Tribes of modern Ireland: None of us are just Irish
None of us are just Irish any more. Instead, we have split off into several tribes, from the Squeezed Middle Class, who resent carrying the burden for the likes of the Piss-Poor Artists, to the Yoofees who are bleeding their parents dry, and the New Irish, who we embrace so long as they don't start showing us up at hurling.
Ireland's biggest tribe, the Squeezed Middle. The official definition of SqueeMid is a 30- to 50-year-old property-owning Irish couple, who wished they had moved to Australia when they had the chance, rather than stay here and bankroll their kids, their parents and various other layabouts.
Latest CSO figures show that 98 per cent of Irish adults describe themselves as part of the SqueeMids. And why not? Claiming membership of our most put-upon tribe gives you carte blanche to complain about everything. It's like being a teacher without having to stand in front of 32 teenagers goofed off their heads on energy drinks.
Here's a simple test to see if you are a SqueeMid. Have you recently discussed the difficulties of making ends meet with a nice couple from Athlone while eating al fresco on the Costa Del Sol? Yes? Then you are not a SqueeMid. We hear they are taking on people over at the Quite-Well-Off Complaining Class – try them. If you think this doesn't apply to you because you were indoors in the Algarve, with an annoying couple from Mullingar, then you are missing the point. Deliberately. So stop acting the maggot.
The SqueeMids have a dilemma. They will remain mortgage slaves for the next 20 years, unless a political party can set them free. There is only one party that looks willing to take the fight to the banks. That's Sinn Fein. In fairness, the Shinners have a history of walking into banks and making people do what they are told. The SqueeMids are of a mind to vote for them because they have nothing left to lose.
OUR VERDICT: A Sinn Fein Taoiseach should fix things. Then Ireland will really be full of couples who wished they had moved to Australia when they had the chance.
There is a simple test to establish if you are a member of the Possibly Poor Professionals. If you ever charged someone €250 for five minutes work and they paid without question, then you are a PoPoPro. Or a prostitute, but that's not what we're talking about here.
We are not implying that lawyers overcharge people for their services. That is because they are litigious and have a lot of time on their hands. So leave the lawyers out of this. That leaves the doctors and dentists. It's not a great time for you dentists. A lot of people simply don't have money for cosmetic dental work.
They are spending it on the essentials, such as tummy tucks and boob jobs.
Don't worry, there is a new phenomenon in Ireland that will save your careers. Puritanism. Everyone's drinking less in recent years because we're trying to punish ourselves for wrecking everything.
We get our sugar kick these days from eating a cut-price chocolate bunny while watching EastEnders. And then another one during Corrie. There will be fillings ahead. So hang on in there.
It's not so good for you doctors. Your waiting rooms will soon be full of people with their perfectly healthy five-year-olds. "Why did you bring him to see me?" "Because it's free, doctor." "You do realise that it costs me money." "Yes. You do realise that if I'm sick myself it costs me €50 every time I need you to write the name of an antibiotic on a piece of paper?" "Point taken."
OUR VERDICT: Dentists should be fine, as long as Aldi don't put up the price of their chocolate bunnies. Doctors are in for some revenge. And lawyers are sound out.
It's a tricky time for you Piss-Poor Artists. You probably still haven't recovered after the boom. Remember the time you'd draw three dots on a canvas to represent the madness of money? And then sell it for 400 grand to a culchie builder, who thought Leonardo da Vinci was a type of pizza? Or the 20 grand you got from the Arts Council to write a poem on how the Celtic Tiger had robbed us of our soul? ("They say money is good for the Irish soul, I've two words for that, My Hole.")
Still, things are looking up. It's only a matter of time before a PiPoArs gets a massive grant to do a portrait of President Michael D.
You will feel the urge to show him posing in the time-honoured fashion, next to an Irish Wolfhound. Maybe pick a smaller dog.
There is more good news – 2016. Official Ireland will be lashing out the cash to make sure we never forget the men of 1916. It doesn't matter what you propose, as long as your pitch includes the term Re-Imagining.
Re-Imagining is vital for 1916 because the reality is that a small bunch of hotheads took over Dublin and then they surrendered.
We recommend a giant statue of Patrick Pearse dressed as Jedward, mad hair and all. The beauty of this is that it looks profound at first glance, but doesn't actually mean anything on further inspection. There's only one word for that. Art.
There will also be calls for the events of 1916 to be represented in the form of modern dance. If you are thinking of four people in green capes standing still for 90 minutes while humming Sean South from Garryowen, then you've got the gig.
OUR VERDICT: You are the one group in Ireland who will enjoy the goings on in 2016. Just don't forget to Re-Imagine.
Greetings foreigners. You Nirish (New Irish) never cease to amaze us. We were astonished that you flocked here during the Celtic Tiger years because we have a shockingly low opinion of ourselves. More astonishing still is that the money ran out and loads of you actually stayed put. Even world-class self-loathers like ourselves are beginning to suspect you like the place. We are also beginning to suspect that your home countries must be right kips, but we'd never say that to your face. Not when you're always saying how friendly we are. We love it when you say that.
We realise you have faced many challenges during your time here. The Africans among you will have been targeted by large gangs of right-on people. These people will stop at nothing to respect your culture and insist that it is a million times better than ours. You have probably seen them at a World Music event having what looks like a mild fit. That's them trying to do an African dance.
They would love nothing better than to be accepted into the Nirish. Unfortunately, they are already paid-up members of one of our largest local tribes, The Gobshites.
The key to your successful integration lies in an organisation we call the GAA. The GAA's main role is to occupy children during the summer evenings so their parents can get smashed on cheap rose in the back garden. It also runs a number of popular sporting championships. One of those is hurling. It's the one where guys look like they are trying to get revenge on other guys for sleeping with their girlfriends.
Here's the problem: if Polish and Nigerian kids start to outshine our lads at hurling we'll never forgive you. We're world champions at hurling. This is borne out when we romp home in hurling-shinty internationals against Scotland, who, in fairness, are crap at everything. Hurling is our thing, a noble pursuit, ideally suited to the temperament and guile of the Gael. The last thing we need is Nirish kids proving otherwise.
OUR VERDICT: It's a great time to be Nirish – as long as Pawel Kowalczyk doesn't captain Clare to a minor All-Ireland. Mind you, we'd pay good money to hear the RTE commentator pronounce his name in Irish.
The Irish middle class is split in two. You have Real Middle Class and Hopeless Social Climbers – the ReMics and HoSoCli to you and me. Wondering where you belong? Then take this quick quiz. 1: Have you ever spied on parents picking up their kids at a school gate to see if that school is suitable for your child? 2: Do you have a strong opinion on hake? If you answered yes to both, then you are pure ReMic. If you replied, "What is hake?" you are Lower HoSoCli. That's low. Our guess is you watch Catchphrase and know someone with a tattoo.
As a bona fide ReMic, your biggest challenge has always been to show off your wealth without appearing vulgar. That's a bit easier these days, now that Michael Noonan has taken all your money. (You still wince at the thought of those leopard-skin panties you bought for 250 quid back in 2007. Look, we all partied.)
Mindfulness brings you great consolation. Your motto is Live in the Now. Particularly since you took a look at your pension statement and resigned yourself to flipping burgers at the age of 83.
Thanks to TripAdvisor, you can still enjoy the classis ReMic holiday on the cheap. That's the one where you manage to avoid other Irish people. Who cares that you end up spending a week in some obscure Croatian mountain-top village with a busload of Belgian bird-watchers? At least there was no one in a Celtic jersey talking about their second-hand Hyundai.
OUR VERDICT: The Government is talking about middle-class tax cuts in the next budget. The last time they went down that road, you ended up in leopard-skin knickers. So be careful how you go.
You could be mistaken for thinking that Ireland is full of hipsters. Particularly if you live near a cycle lane. But the truth is that a large group of Irish people wouldn't touch the hipster look with a rare 1970s Belgian racing bike. They are the UnHips. Here is a simple test to see where you stand. Did you spend a lot of money on vintage clothes and still end up looking like Olly Murs? Yes? Then you are a hipster. If not, well done.
The UnHips are largely invisible around our cities and larger towns. That's the way they like it. They are more prominent in the smaller towns and villages, where hipsters are known as Queerhawks and shunned by the local population.
Your average UnHipster has an excellent grasp of history. He knows that, after a good run in the 1960s, hipsters were an international laughing stock well into the Noughties, when news reached Ireland that some guy in Brooklyn had grown a beard. The UnHipster knows this ridicule will come around again. And, this time around, the hipsters' fashion cock-ups will not be recorded on an obscure black and white East German camera. Well, actually, they probably will. But they will also be recorded on smartphones and uploaded to Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and one other multi-billion internet photo-storage app that was invented since I started writing this sentence.
In other words, there is one thing that an UnHipster will never have to hear from his kids. "Jesus, Dad, how did you manage to score with anyone in those clothes? You look like Olly Murs."
OUR VERDICT: Your time will come around again, UnHips. Very, very soon.
AN SLUA NUA
A sub tribe for our second most popular language. (If you exclude Polish, Mandarin Chinese and probably Spanish.) The gaeilgeoir tribe is now split in two. There is the old hard-core crowd, who still scour the trad music scene in west Clare. They are cultural purists, who find something deeply erotic in a black-haired beauty working her magic on the squeezebox.
The new gaeilgeoir tribe, An Slua Nua, is made up of subtle snobs and rugby fans. (There is a crossover here, as you can well imagine.) The snobs (Na Snobi) are those who reckon that sending their kids to a gaelscoil is the only politically correct way to keep their kids away from the lower classes. (They are not wrong.) Na Snobi are usually members of the Quite-Well-Off Complaining Class who can't afford to send their kids to a fee-paying school.
Of course, sending your kids to a school where the parents must speak Irish could be seen by some as a form of racial segregation. Na Snobi are at pains to point out they are not racists.
They usually point this out in English. Na Snobi tend not to use Irish unless they are talking about a nice summer day at the beach with Maura and her dog, Rustai. "Feach ar Rustai," say Na Snobi.
The second pillar of An Slua Nua is rugby fans who are forced to watch Heineken Cup and Pro 12 matches on TG4. They are fluent in Irish at this stage. Seriously, ask them anything. As long as it is, "Would you agree that Hugo needs to front-up more in the lineouts going forward?"
OUR VERDICT: There are only two things that could possibly stop the march of An Slua Nua. The working classes might decide to reclaim Irish. And TG4 might decide to focus on traditional Irish sports. We have our doubts on both fronts.
As in Get Off Me, Two's Enough. It's the catchphrase of modern Irish parents. It is now widely accepted that anything more than two children is a bit common. It also means a couple with two young kids managed to have sex, which means one or both of you is a nymphomaniac.
It's been a bad decade for you Gomtes. You put off having kids until you could build a career and get together a decent deposit for a house. The upside is you went on four city breaks a year until you were 35.
The downside is your own parents are now too old to provide the only thing they are good for – free childcare. Was it really worth that wet weekend in Brussels? No.
Childcare costs are ruining your life. The only upside is it's easy enough to get your kids up in the morning for the drive to creche. That's because you have been forced to live in your car. A third child at this stage could push you over the edge. (Or into a station wagon.) The result is sex once a month, with condoms, the coil and the pill in case the vasectomy didn't work.
Gomtes are facing a huge dilemma. On the one hand, you want to advise your kids not to waste away their 30s traipsing around European cities in the rain.
On the other hand, you don't want them to start their own families too early or you will get stuck minding their babies. Our guess is you'll give them a Lonely Planet European guide for their 30th birthday. And who could blame you?
OUR VERDICT: There is always a chance that the Government will do something about the cost of childcare. It's slightly slimmer than your chances of getting pregnant with number three. Sorry about that.
The Yoof stands for young people. The Fees stands for what they cost. Which is a lot. Here's a quick Yoofee test. If you start welling up while watching Reeling in the Years, you are not a Yoofee. The problem isn't so much that you watch Reeling in the Years – it's more that you watch television. Young people don't do that any more. Welcome to middle age.
This isn't a great time to be a Yoofee. There's no easy way to put this. Your parents can't afford you. Neither can they afford for you to be seen in last year's runners. That's social hara-kiri.
So your parents are wearing some old thing from Penneys while you are in that brand new pair of orange Adidas. If you think your parents won't hold a permanent grudge for that sacrifice, then it's true what they say. Young people have a lot to learn.
Here's an economic update. It looks like most American multinationals have the same business plan – move all our jobs to Ireland and hope for the best. The upshot is you won't have to leave Ireland to find a job. Sorry about that.
Lack of jobs has been a great excuse to get off this dump of a damp rock in the North Atlantic. Now you'll have to come up with something else. It will need to be good or Mammy won't let you go. (She might seem like a cool older friend now in her skinny jeans and Converse. But, trust us, when you're 22 and ready to leave home, she'll be wearing an apron and saying things like, "I hope it always stays fine for you." It happens to the best of them.)
Your parents are complaining about you spending all your time on social media. They haven't said it to your face, but you've seen them mention it on Facebook. Don't worry, they will never take away your mobile phone or iPad. Not when the alternative is to spend time discussing your concerns and anxieties. To be honest, they find all that stuff really tedious. You might have seen them admit it on Twitter.
OUR VERDICT: You face a rainy life in full-employment Ireland unless your elders blow the future on another crazy game of property roulette. We fancy your chances there. Australia here you come.
It's not an easy time to be an Ordinary Catholic in Ireland these days. All around you are angry, divisive people who seem hellbent on dragging your faith through the mud. And that's just senior figures in Catholic think-tanks.
Gay weddings are obviously a complete disaster for your average Orcat. It's hard enough to find money for presents when all your straight friends get married – it could be close to impossible once homosexuals get in on the act.
Another problem is the couple sitting next to you at mass. There's a good chance they have been dragged along by their snotty little seven-year-old because he has to go to mass once a month to make his communion. It's hard to say your "I believe in one God" when the hipster dad next to you keeps muttering about crazy people who never read anything by Richard Dawkins. With any luck, he'll go to hell.
But there are some real positives for Irish Orcats. The main thing is you can look forward to life after death. It used to be that heaven was a place you went at the end of your life to meet God. Now it's the one place where you can draw a line under your past and finally get away from your creditors.
And then there is Pope Francis. A papal visit would be a great boost for Orcat morale. Even Hipster Atheist Dad would probably feel an urge to go and see him. Let's face it, as benevolent father figures go, Francis is almost up there Johnny Giles.
OUR VERDICT: Looking good as long as you can take the financial strain of gay weddings.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine