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Michael Cullen: Hear the one about the Irishman who laughed his way through dark times?

"When Brian Cowen became Taoiseach the country was on the edge of an economic precipice. Since then the country has taken a giant step forward." Yes, the darkest and most troubled times will always see us turning on our institutions with the one thing we have left -- our razor-sharp Irish wit.

With so much doom and gloom around, we Irish people could do with a pick-me-up, something which prompts even a smile, while at the same time, pokes a sharp stick at the people who have got into this mess -- especially our banks, politicians and developers.

What makes us laugh when the very world seems to be falling to pieces? Well, Tweets like: "They discovered oil off Dalkey Island." Scroll down: "It drifted there from the Gulf of Mexico."

And who could forget the viral gag: "Cheryl Cole was told at the British Airways check-in that she couldn't fly because of ash. So she says, "What's the little sh** done now?"

But it's politics we Irish like to deliver a good beating to with a bloodied funny bone and nothing is sacred when it comes to our political leaders.

"Enda Kenny is extremely modest," goes a popular one liner, "and he he has every reason to be ... "Mary Coughlan does the work of two men," goes another -- "Ant & Dec".

Yes, groan away, but the simple ones are best. And why not? People are being bamboozled with all sorts of double-speak and jargon about our troubled economy.

As for religion... yet another of Ireland's bastions of power that has crumbled in recent years.

What with repeated reports on child abuse and the Vatican ignoring calls to bring the chief perpetrators to justice, the public has wakened up to the reality of 'pulpit power'.

One gag reads: "The Catholic Church has a tough new policy on child molesters; three strikes and you're a cardinal." Ouch! Perhaps a little less harsh is: "St Peter's Square -- but sure everyone knows that."

Our dark Irish sense of humour is a lifeline from the current destruction.

People are downbeat and angered by what has happened in the last few years.

They have become increasingly disillusioned by the country's traditional powers and annoyed at the way the economy has been brought to its knees through no great fault of our own.

If we're not reading headlines about some new tax on the way, it's the rising cost to the taxpayer from the Anglo farce, or the latest defence of Nama. So "NAMA is totally Harpic," comes the taxi-cab quip: "Clean around the bend."


Apart from the put-downs of the pillars of Irish society, there are gags about celebrities and political figures from overseas. Everyone from Ryan Tubridy to Paris Hilton and Wayne Rooney are fair game right now.

On Ryan? Well, it's said he enjoys using self-deprecation, even though he insists he's not very good at it.

Hilton? Seems she's yearning for a meaningful over-night relationship".

As for the beleaguered Manchester United striker: "The last time Wayne Rooney met the Queen at Buckingham Palace, he told her Kipling was "exceedingly good".

As we approach the dark winter months and look forward to the national debt going through the stratosphere, let's sign off with a moment of cheer.

For anyone out there who thinks puns are no fun, let's hope you never find yourself driving on an icy, abandoned road in the dark of night only to notice a road sign with half of it torn clean off -- because that would be a bad sign.