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How to sort the real Paddies from the pretenders. . .
Irish Independent / June 23 2010
So the Government plans to introduce a certificate of Irish heritage for the Diaspora, eh? Well, that's just dandy. Over 70 million people around the world claim some sort of Irish connection; the Exchequer will be hoping at least 69 million of them stump up a fee for the privilege of calling themselves part-Irish.
Should we just hand out bona fide documentation of Irishness willy-nilly, though, or should some sort of test be involved? In the US, for instance, you have to prove you know your hotdogs from your Hershey bars.
So, we've put together a simple questionnaire to separate the wannabe Paddies from the real Celtic heroes -- and those who prove their all-round Gaelic-ness will be welcomed into Mother Eireann's bosom with open arms.
To spice things up a little, candidates could be strapped down in a holding cell, juiced up with sodium pentathol and blinking into a harsh, Colditz-style searchlight, as they are asked the following questions:
1 Are your parents Irish? Maybe also your grandparents? Even better, can you claim Irish lineage through every ancestor back to Strongbow? (Although he may have actually been French, but we won't worry about that here.)
2 How many pints of Guinness can you horse down without A) falling over, B) vomiting, or C) singing miserable, interminable songs about tragic cases of infanticide in the Kerry mountains, long, long ago?
3 How pink is your skin? Does it bear the distinctive raw salmon colouring of the true Celt? How easily do you burn in summertime? Anybody who doesn't need suncream at factor 900 or higher is automatically disqualified.
4 Have you ever A) read Finnegans Wake, and B) understood any of it? If you answered yes to one or both parts, you're lying, because nobody has ever done either one.
5 When you are describing, 'as Gaeilge', a woman somersaulting through a flaming hoop, which of the following belongs to the genitive case: the woman, the flames, the hoop, or you?
6 How fluent is your Hiberno-English? More specifically, how often do you use terms such as "sure, I might", "grand so", "arrah", "toora-loora-laddie" etc, etc?
7 Do you mutter "I have a little bit of news" when you're about to impart an absolute bombshell to your nearest and dearest? For the purposes of this test, we sincerely hope so.
8 Do you use the brand-name Tayto in a generic way, like so: "Get me a pack of Taytos in the shop." "Okay, what kind?" "Oh I don't mind, anything but Tayto."
9 Is Shane MacGowan a veritable god among men? Please answer yes or yes.
10 Do you know who David Norris is? When he shrieks excitedly, can your ears register this high-frequency noise with clarity?
11 Do you find our oddball place names -- like Newtwopothouse, Ballydehob, Cappataggle, Horse and Jockey, Stoneybatter, Hackballscross, Ovens, Nobber, Ahascragh, Ballinspittle, Borris in Ossory, Watergrasshill -- to be endearing or just stupid-sounding?
12 Are you inexplicably attracted to the immense bore-fest that is horse-racing? If you answered yes, you're almost certainly Irish. But it's still a bore-fest.
13 When at a wedding in some far-flung corner of the world, do you ever feel a strange urge to start mumbling "Beef or salmon? Beef or salmon? Beef or salmon?", like a mantra devised by the world's hungriest but most indecisive Buddhist?
14 Do you agree with Brendan Behan when he said the Irish have a psychosis where other races have a national character? And are you only agreeing because you are undergoing a psychotic episode right now?
15 Work out what proportion of the national genetic code the following comprise: maudlin sentimentality; annoyance at the weather; mindless craic; enmity towards the British; pronunciation of "British" as "Burritteesh"; pure double-blended whiskey; tendency towards writing of epic poetry; proteins and trace elements.
16 Does your own DNA reject the typical double helix formation for an approximation of the contours of a stout glass?
17 Have you ever suffered any of the following Irish-specific ailments: Sport Obsession Disease; Gargle-itis; Begrudger's Scowl; Post-Colonial Identity Self-Annihilation Syndrome?
18 In ancient history, the Tuatha De Dannan smashed the Fir Bolg to smithereens, driving them underground where they have lived ever since, surfacing sporadically to stock up on milk, tinned goods and essential medicines. Who the hell were any of these people? Please tell us, we genuinely don't know.
19 Have you ever seen The Book of Kells? It's right nice, isn't it? Lovely drawings in it.
20 How many times could you bear to hear the term "Celtic Tiger" before an inescapable urge descended on you to murder the man responsible for coining it? Four or five, maybe?
21 What is the best thing about the St Patrick's Festival? A) The nice shamrock. B) The booze-sodden violent anarchy. C) The crappy papier maché things that cost about a trillion euro and only float for a short while before sinking into the murky depths of the Liffey. D) The annoying fact that it used to be just called plain old St Patrick's Day and then they changed it for no reason.
22 What happened to the word "Day", anyway? Was it destroyed by Army word-disposal experts in a controlled explosion sometime around 2001?
23 Are you prone to a spot of hop-leppin' or buck-leppin' from time to time?
24 Have you ever actually heard the pipes, the pipes a-callin', either from glen to glen, or alternatively, down the mountainside?
25 Do you consider a rasher sandwich to be the pinnacle of culinary excellence?