Friday, March 17, 2017

So Your Character is From Ireland ... Featuring Alex (AI) @ Mouthful of Ink

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's time for this month's So Your Character is From Another Country! This is a monthly or bimonthly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's So Your Character is From Papua New Guinea ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Ireland is one of the many countries I wish to travel to one day. I've known several people who have been and it sounds like a beautiful place. I've also seen Ireland fairly frequently on TV or movies whether it be the Secret of Roan Inish or on BBC. I know a fair amount this country already, but I've always wanted to talk to someone who's lived in the country their whole life. Let's welcome Alex!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

Alex (AI) is 19 and from Ireland, and feels really weird talking about herself in the third-person so she’s going to stop that. I’m a book blogger, voracious reader, and sporadic writer. I live in the south-east of Ireland in a country town that’s so small I’m not naming it for fear of someone stalking me. I live with a dog, my best friend and my mother. You can find me at my blog, Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Would it be cheesy to say the literature? I think it’s well-known that for its population, Ireland and Irish writers take up quite a bit more than their fair share of literary renown. And then of course apart from that, we have tonnes of landmarks, some gorgeous one like the memorial to Daniel O'Connell, and some not-so gorgeous (*ahem* the Spire *ahem*). And then just the architecture, in Dublin especially, while not particularly unique, is still absolutely beautiful in my opinion!

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
The question here is, what do you mean by environment? If you mean nature-wise, I love it, and it’s gorgeous. We might not have exciting animals like Australia, or frozen tundras and deserts, but I’ll always take my home’s lush green grass and garden sparrows over that.

The social environment really depends on your age and where you live. I’ve always complained and advocated that in small towns like my home-town there needs to be more to do for kids and teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. Because once you’re “too old” to play games on the road with your friends, but still too young to travel on your own to different towns or go drinking, there’s nothing to do outside the cities. I’ll share a quick photo of what I got up to at age 15 because of this.

There’s me, age 15 at 5am camping out in the field behind a friend’s house. What can you do apart from get into trouble at that age if there’s nothing else?

My favourite places have always been the cities. Dublin, Galway and Waterford especially.


Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
You can’t go wrong with your meat, two veg, and potatoes. Well, yes you can, considering I don’t know anyone under the age of 50 that actually enjoys eating that. If you want to know how to make Irish food, you’re pretty safe with just boiling the life out of every ingredient and adding nothing for seasoning except salt, pepper, and butter. So much butter.

But then again, there is the Spice Bag.

Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
Oh, there are way too many to list in one post! And also almost all of them are rude, or curse words. I think instead I’ll link a video. Actually, this whole YouTube Account is a great reference for Irish culture in general (I can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic or not).

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who is 19 years old and unemployed.

Wake up and complain how cold it is >> make tea and complain how cold it is >> head out to buy milk and bread and complain how cold it is >> run into at least 13 people you know because this is a tiny country and listen to them complain about how cold it is >> buy the milk >> exit shop into a downpour of rain that seemed to be waiting for you specifically to come out of the shop >> get wet >> walk halfway home >> realise you forgot the bread >> have the rain stop while you’re back in the shop and then mysteriously start again on your way out >> get more wet >> get home and make more tea >> complain that it’s now cold AND wet.

It’s always cold and wet here.

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
It is definitely very different. Considering how widespread coverage of the US has been since the presidential campaign started, I learned plenty of things that baffled me. Again, that YouTube Account that made the earlier video I linked does plenty of videos about Irish people watching/trying American things. 

Your country is so much larger than ours and so obviously it’s quite different, but still, some things just confuse me. I remember visiting my Granddad in Alabama and realising that You Can’t Walk Anywhere? You have to be able to drive? There’s almost no public transport, at least where he lives. Everyone has at least one car and a driver’s license. I get buses and trains EVERYWHERE. Admittedly I can get from the east coast of Ireland to the west coast within 4 or 5 hours by train travel so that should show you how small this place really is.

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
Ireland has such a rich history. I think it’s something that we tend to be really proud of. This article describes some of the pivotal moments much better than I’ll ever be able to, but I’ll still talk about a few.

There were of course the Plantations in the 16th and 17th Centuries when Britain slowly took over Irish land. Then the famine came in 1845, ending in 1849, when a potato blight decimated the country’s population by around 2 million people, 1 million dying of starvation and disease, and another million emigrating to Britain, Australia, and the US! Guess why people in Boston and New York kinda still sound like us? And then in more recent history you have the 1916 Rising which started off the fight to establish ourselves as an Independent Republic instead of being part of the British Commonwealth, and the Troubles that went on in Northern Ireland in the 1960’s, 70’s.

Can you tell I did History in my Leaving Cert (Ireland’s final school exams)?

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Oh the worst thing has to be people trying to imitate our accents. It never works. Never ever. And the stereotypes that we’re all drunks isn’t fair either, although my English teacher once said we have a “culture of drinking” which is true. We don’t all walk around blind drunk all the time, but alcohol has a central part in our culture. Where do you go after a Christening? The pub. Birthday’s? The pub. Funerals? The pub.

(Can I quickly mention that I once saw a train-station worker pour vodka into his orange juice at around 9am? Well, you’ve gotta get your five-a-day somehow)

I think another video is in order! This one is Irish people rating “Irish” accents in Hollywood.

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
The media you want to watch when it concerns Ireland, is Irish media! And often British media, the BBC especially, does really well too, but they are our neighbours after all. Also, watch anything with Brendan Gleeson in it. Always good.

Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
For books, it would have to be Darren Shan in The Darren Shan Saga by, em, Darren Shan. Artemis from Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is also brilliant.

For TV? Dustin the Turkey, no doubt about it.

We sent him to Eurovision for God’s sake! If that’s not a definitive statement about our country then I don’t know what would be.

Thank you, Alex, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back on the 21st for So Your Character is From the Midwest United ... Featuring Eliana Reickard!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Slots for Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, New Zealand, the Philippines, Liberia, Algeria, Thailand, Peru, China, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Papua New Guinea, and Ireland have been filled, but if you are from any other country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com.

Do you have any Irish characters? Did this inspire you to write a Irish character or set a book in Ireland? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Alex? Be sure to thank them!

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