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Thread: Ask Me About Ireland

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Default Ask Me About Ireland

    Since Spitz' thread was popular I thought I'd start this thread in homage. I had threads about Ireland before but if anyone has any questions about anything in on or around this island don't hesitate to post.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    It seems like an awfully small population for the big piece of land the Republic of Ireland covers. Are there huge swathes of countryside where no one lives? Considering all of the growth the country has seen lately from high birth rates and immigration, has there been a noticable difference in culture over your lifetime?

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Yes parts of Ireland are thinly populated, especially parts of our western seaboard. The stark beauty that tourists come to see in parts of the country is partially the result of underpopulation due to the lasting effects of mass emigration down the decades and centuries. Even County Dublin, which has a density similar to New Jersey's yet contains a substantial amount of rural land still. Here's a population density map to give you an idea. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi...reland_map.png

    I think Irish culture has definitely changed since I was born. When I was born, people of non-Irish ethnicity in this country were so rare as to be essentially curios, indeed into the 1990's probably even into this century, people of obvious non-Irish descent were treated in a way that might seem quaint in other more diverse societies. Ireland, but Dublin in particular, is now much more ethnically diverse than pretty much ever before. Dublin is now a typical big city with a significant and visible non-Irish population. Since 2004 and the accession of new states to the EU there has been a relatively huge influx of people from the former Eastern Bloc states. However as the economic tide has turned here many of these people have since returned to their native lands or moved on to greener economic pastures.

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    How many leprechauns would you eat on an average day?

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    I'm a vegetarian but the national average is 6.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    What vestiges of the bigotry the Irish suffered under are still around, if any?

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    It still exists in Northern Ireland but because of government accord and new laws visible discrimination based on sectarian grounds is for the most part no longer extant. There is still animosity amongst the communities in Northern Ireland and to some extent it might take centuries more for it to go away. Having said that, NI is a more liberal place than it used to be, many of its younger citizens have lived abroad. There has also been an influx of people to NI from all over the world which changes the game a little.

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    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Do you really have shamrocks?

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    Yes, and they have real rocks too, especially on the Atlantic seaboard.

    aside: What is that "Vagina Borg" business all about? I vaguely remember asking and never finding out...

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    Oliphaunt jali's avatar
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    Do you speak any Gaeilge at all? How appreciated are people who do "Riverdance" type dancing or compete in traditional music festivals? (I recently saw a movie that featured a 1960s music competition - The Boys and Girls of County Clare). Is this still popular?
    They weren't singing....they were just honking.
    Glee 2009

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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    Do you really have shamrocks?
    Yes. We wear fresh Shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day.

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    Quote Originally posted by Sir Richard ffoulkes View post
    Yes, and they have real rocks too, especially on the Atlantic seaboard.

    aside: What is that "Vagina Borg" business all about? I vaguely remember asking and never finding out...
    Dunno what you're talking about. Is that a joke or something you heard? Was it an Irish term?

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    Quote Originally posted by jali View post
    Do you speak any Gaeilge at all? How appreciated are people who do "Riverdance" type dancing or compete in traditional music festivals? (I recently saw a movie that featured a 1960s music competition - The Boys and Girls of County Clare). Is this still popular?
    Yeah I'm conversational in Irish (Gaeilge) although always trying to improve mine. Irish dancing is popular here,. but I don't know if it is as popular as it would be amongst the Irish communities in other countries. My mother and her sisters did Irish dancing as a kid and several of my cousins did too. I am not sure if it varies by region but yeah it is reasonably popular. With regard to trad music festivals/competitions yes there's this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleadh_Cheoil

    Traditional music and its prevalence seems to be a regional thing too. In some parts of the country it is much more prevalent than others. You can attend pub sessions in Dublin, but only in a handful of bars, whereas a lot of bars and pubs on the West Coast would have regular informal sessions. The centre of what is now considered Irish trad would probably be Co. Clare.

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    For the benefit of those who don't know: What's the difference between crack and craic?

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    Oliphaunt jali's avatar
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    How close are Gaeilge and Welsh? I'm learning Welsh on my Ipod right now and I love it, although some of the pronunciations are really tough for me. I'm imagining them as related - similar to Portuguese and Spanish and Italian. True?
    They weren't singing....they were just honking.
    Glee 2009

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    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Quote Originally posted by Sir Richard ffoulkes View post
    Yes, and they have real rocks too, especially on the Atlantic seaboard.

    aside: What is that "Vagina Borg" business all about? I vaguely remember asking and never finding out...
    Dunno what you're talking about. Is that a joke or something you heard? Was it an Irish term?
    It's not you, it's Hatshepsut's title -- she was the poster immediately before me. Please excuse the hijack.

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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    For the benefit of those who don't know: What's the difference between crack and craic?
    The word "craic" is a relative neologism which is a retrofitted Irish-ified version of the English dialectal word crack. "We had great crack" and "the crack was mighty" are/were common sayings in Ireland. Having the crack is roughly the same as "having fun"/"shooting the breeze" etc. The street drug crack is largely non-existent in Ireland, heroin always having been much more popular and whilst coke has made inroads, there's not much sign as yet of a US-style crack epidemic.

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    Quote Originally posted by jali View post
    How close are Gaeilge and Welsh? I'm learning Welsh on my Ipod right now and I love it, although some of the pronunciations are really tough for me. I'm imagining them as related - similar to Portuguese and Spanish and Italian. True?
    Not very. Whilst Gaeilge, Manx and Scots Gaelic are somewhat mutually intelligible and much more akin to the Spanish/Italian relationship, Welsh, Cornish and Breton are a separate group. I have a Welsh language station and it sounds utterly alien to me. Some words have seemingly obvious common roots, such as the Welsh word melys for sweet, and the Irish word milis. To be honest I'm not sure how much help a grounding in Gaeilge is for learning Welsh. Contrast with Scots Gaelic and even with my somewhat remedial Gaeilge if I watch a show in Scots Gaelic I can pick up the jist of it.

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    How is it that the Irish manage to do their fada correctly, while the Scots seem to find some perverse pleasure in doing them backwards?

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    Well according to Wikipedia "The most obvious orthographical difference is that the accent, or síneadh fada, is written as a grave accent in Scottish Gaelic, as opposed to the acute accent of Irish; hence the word for "welcome" is written as fàilte in Scottish Gaelic and in Irish as fáilte. Irish has no grave accent, only acute accents, while until recently Scottish Gaelic had both grave and acute accents. The recent spelling reform has meant that there are now only grave accents in Scottish Gaelic, the opposite of Irish."

    As to WHY Scottish Gaelic had both graves and acutes, I'm just guessing but I think perhaps the Scots never used the Gaelic type that was popular in Ireland until the mid-20th century.

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    How much of your yard is used to grow potatoes?

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    We don't grow potatoes nor barley nor wheat.

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    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sir Richard ffoulkes View post

    aside: What is that "Vagina Borg" business all about? I vaguely remember asking and never finding out...
    You know, I myself am a little hazy on the exact origin. IIRC, the term "vagina borg" comes from a thread started by Sarafeena about SAHM. In the resulting discussion, someone, I think either Sarafeena or Zuul, made a reference to "the vagina borg" while describing feminist group-think. I was quite taken by it.

    Meanwhile, back at the Dope, there had recently been a few threads obsessing about charter membership status, as happens over there from time to time. I put the two concepts together, and thus was "charter member of the vagina borg" born.

    It fits me well, since I am something of an old-school feminist. I have forced myself to act more tolerant and accepting of different views, but in my heart of hearts I secretly believe that everyone should follow a rigid definition of feminism that is precisely identical to my own.

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    What is the most offensive word in the Irish language? Pronounciation guide and tanslation too, please.

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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    Quote Originally posted by Sir Richard ffoulkes View post

    aside: What is that "Vagina Borg" business all about? I vaguely remember asking and never finding out...
    You know, I myself am a little hazy on the exact origin. IIRC, the term "vagina borg" comes from a thread started by Sarafeena about SAHM. In the resulting discussion, someone, I think either Sarafeena or Zuul, made a reference to "the vagina borg" while describing feminist group-think. I was quite taken by it.

    Meanwhile, back at the Dope, there had recently been a few threads obsessing about charter membership status, as happens over there from time to time. I put the two concepts together, and thus was "charter member of the vagina borg" born.

    It fits me well, since I am something of an old-school feminist. I have forced myself to act more tolerant and accepting of different views, but in my heart of hearts I secretly believe that everyone should follow a rigid definition of feminism that is precisely identical to my own.
    Much obliged. Google did a poor job of answering the question since it includes all of your posts on account of the custom title (less than helpfully...). A board search of this site threw up this although the phrase was used by pepperlandgirl apparently as a taunt against another poster with whom I'm not familiar. Well, curiosity satisfied and hijack over.

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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    What is the most offensive word in the Irish language? Pronounciation guide and tanslation too, please.
    I don't know tbh. My friend had a very unsavoury saying that might be up there but I'm not really willing to repeat it.

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    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    What is the most offensive word in the Irish language? Pronounciation guide and tanslation too, please.
    I don't know tbh. My friend had a very unsavoury saying that might be up there but I'm not really willing to repeat it.
    Could you PM it to me, please?

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    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Is it true that the prevailing culture of Ireland is really uptight about sex? The stereotype I have (left over from a few decades ago) is that sex was something shameful and dirty - a necessary evil for the purposes of procreation and male physical release, but something best done in the dark and not discussed. I assume that is a gross overstatement at best, but was that true in the past?

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    Quote Originally posted by Hatshepsut View post
    Is it true that the prevailing culture of Ireland is really uptight about sex? The stereotype I have (left over from a few decades ago) is that sex was something shameful and dirty - a necessary evil for the purposes of procreation and male physical release, but something best done in the dark and not discussed. I assume that is a gross overstatement at best, but was that true in the past?
    I'd say it was quite true in the past, although it may well have been true of other anglophone cultures too. The sexualisation of mainstream culture both here and abroad in recent years has led to people being more open about sex etc. The Roman Catholic church had numerous warped ideas about sex and particularly about controlling women's bodies (see the Magdalen Laundries) which prevailed in one way shape or form until probably the 1980s. There is definitely a conservative streak in Irish society, hence we have no abortion, divorce is a relatively new phenomenon etc. but I think overall, for the most part as a society we've got over sexual related taboos.

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    Do you think you'll see a united Ireland in our lifetime?

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    I could probably write an essay on that particular topic spitz.

    The ultimate correct answer is "I don't know". Apart from anything else I don't know how long either of us is going to live but say we live until we're 80 so gives 50 years for it to happen.

    I really don't think, barring some major changes that are unforeseen, that Ireland will be an independent 32 County Republic by the end of my lifetime. Although demographics are changing in Northern Ireland to a point where there might well be a Republican/Catholic majority there within our lifetimes that still might not automatically bring about a united Ireland, for a number of reasons.

    1) From both an economic and security perspective the Republic could not now nor in the foreseeable future afford to take on the six counties. With regard to economics, a huge percentage of employment in Northern Ireland is in UK-wide state sector jobs. If NI joined the Republic, automatically a significant percentage of these jobs would become both unfeasible and totally unnecessary, as the Republic has a much smaller population base than Britain, the Republic having roughly 1/12th of the population of the island of Britain. With regard to security, although Northern Ireland is largely at peace now, the British state spends billions on security in the region. The Irish state could not afford to spend anything approaching the current amounts. Obviously there would be significantly less risk of IRA/Republican terrorist activities in a united state however see point 2). The NHS in Northern Ireland could not be matched in efficiency by any replacement in a united Ireland so healthcare costs for NIers would skyrocket. The case of German reunification would be the obvious precedent to note, except that West Germany at the time of reunification was much richer than Ireland is now and percentage wise much bigger than the DDR.

    2) Even with a Republican/Catholic majority, you might still have 1 million or more citizens from a Unionist/Protestant background who do not want to be part of a United Ireland. To a significant extent they could make any move towards unity unworkable using any number of methods, including a return to armed insurrection.

    3) The framework of the EU in a sense will perhaps eventually override that of nation states, enough perhaps to make Irish unity a political irrelevance. If the UK ever adopts the Euro then commerce between North and South, which is huge already would have no real barriers.

    Having said that there are a number of imaginable scenarios where a United Ireland becomes more likely in our lifetimes, off the top of my head, the wider breakup of the UK might be one, although in some of those scenarios I think that an independent Northern Ireland might be a more likely configeration than a 32 county Republic.

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    What's your take on kitschy Irish (themed) pubs worldwide? I had lunch in one a few days ago, and it felt a tad strange...

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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    Quote Originally posted by The Original An Gadaí View post
    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    What is the most offensive word in the Irish language? Pronounciation guide and tanslation too, please.
    I don't know tbh. My friend had a very unsavoury saying that might be up there but I'm not really willing to repeat it.
    Could you PM it to me, please?
    OK, you seem reluctant to share this juicy word/phrase with me.






    Is Léim Thart a fairly literal Irish version of Jump Around, or is it thematically different? From my 20 or so listens, and reading the lyrics, I'd guess it's fairly faithful to the original...?

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Thanks for starting the thread, TOAG. If I may ask:

    Are you ever irritated by stereotypes of the Irish?

    Any good stories about clueless foreign tourists in Ireland?

    What or who do you like best about Irish literature?

    How honest and effective are the police in Ireland?

    Have you ever had to go to court, and what was your experience like?

    Do you have any particular loyalties among the main Irish political parties, and why?

    What do you generally think about the British, and would you say yours is a majority view among all Irish?

    All kidding aside, are potatoes still a major part of the Irish diet?

    As for Irish unification, of course it's going to happen, and just 13 years from now - Star Trek tells us so!: http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Irish_Unification_of_2024

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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    What's your take on kitschy Irish (themed) pubs worldwide? I had lunch in one a few days ago, and it felt a tad strange...
    They used to annoy me. They don't really anymore. I think a pub that is like that can be excellent, or not. All depends on staff, service, the entertainment and the clientele. It's pretty much the default place to go if you're in a city or country where nightlife isn't self-evident. I think it's sad how a lot of genuine Irish pubs kinda upgraded to the kitsch cartoon version. However a lot of genuine Irish pubs were also pissed stained hovels which could do with any improvement.

    I look at the menu in these places, even in Dublin and sometimes think "what the fuck sort of food is this stuff?" It doesn't reflect anything most people I know would eat.

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    For simplicity's sake my answers are in red.

    Are you ever irritated by stereotypes of the Irish?
    I am when the stereotype is used to belittle a serious point an Irish person is making to a foreigner. I think whoever is doing the belittling is an issue too. Sometimes reportage in say a British paper can border on racist stereotyping, but it's not a common occurance in this day and age. I get asked sometimes to say stuff like "Whar's me lucky charms?" by Americans but that doesn't bother me.

    Any good stories about clueless foreign tourists in Ireland?
    I've never encountered people like that but there are plenty of apocryphal tales of tourists wanting to take photos of leprechauns in their natural habitat and stuff. The worst ignorance I've heard is stuff like people wanting to know what train to take from Edinburgh to Dublin or London to Dublin etc. I think there's a naivety about what Ireland is going to be like in some quarters. The idea of it being a modern, industrialised, suburbanised nation doesn't chime with the tourist brochures or Hollywood mythos.

    What or who do you like best about Irish literature?
    I absolutely love the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh and some of the novels of Patrick McCabe.

    How honest and effective are the police in Ireland?
    They can be effective sometimes. I think there is dishonesty in the ranks. Unfortunately there's a problem with the police culture in this country. They forget they're serving the public. They have tough jobs but many don't make their lives easier by being quick prickly with the public. I could tell you 10 stories of family and friends who have had bad experiences with the police where procedure wasn't followed, courtesy wasn't shown, and in one or two instances all-but illegal actions were taken by the police.

    Have you ever had to go to court, and what was your experience like?
    No.

    Do you have any particular loyalties among the main Irish political parties, and why?
    No, I hate most of them equally, although Fianna Fáil are the worst of the lot. Corrupt, anti-intellectual, slick but insubstantial, blind, ignorant pigs the lot of them. I am not ashamed to say I voted Socialist Party at the last election but this was essentially a protest vote and related to the fact I feel their representatives have the most integrity of any pols I've encountered.

    What do you generally think about the British, and would you say yours is a majority view among all Irish?
    Northern Ireland is a whole kettle of worms I probably shouldn't get into here. Most British people (from Great Britain) I've met I've got on well with. I have some good British friends. I think our history has tainted my view of their probably great nation but I don't generally hold history against anyway, except maybe for cheap laughs.

    All kidding aside, are potatoes still a major part of the Irish diet?
    Most definitely. You can have potatoes prepared in 5 or more different ways in restaurants. They're standard issue in Irish households and in most restaurants.

    As for Irish unification, of course it's going to happen, and just 13 years from now - Star Trek tells us so!: http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Irish_Unification_of_2024[/QUOTE]
    I remember there being a hullabaloo about that episode at the time.

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Thanks for your very interesting answers! Hope to see you back here in ObamaLand sometime soon.

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    How do you view Ireland - Australia ties generally? Green among the gold and all that.
    Last edited by Trojan Man; 10 Mar 2011 at 12:19 AM. Reason: I was all smartypants putting that gif in there, but made a typo :smack

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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    How do you view Ireland - Australia ties generally? Green among the gold and all that.
    Well I think Australia has now largely taken the place of America in the Irish cultural mindset as Eden, Utopia, or whatever. It's where people now dream of and plan to move whereas in generations past it was usually America that inhabited that part of the national culture.

    I think for the most part Irish and Aussies get on very well. There aren't many cultural barriers by comparison with other countries.

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    Do the McDonalds' in Ireland sell Shamrock Shakes?

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    Quote Originally posted by Orual View post
    Do the McDonalds' in Ireland sell Shamrock Shakes?
    I know they used to. I've not been in a Mickey Dees in Ireland in years so dunno if they still do.

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    Quote Originally posted by Orual View post
    Do the McDonalds' in Ireland sell Shamrock Shakes?
    I know they used to. I've not been in a Mickey Dees in Ireland in years so dunno if they still do.

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    Any thoughts on this article, on the best five pubs in Dublin?: http://www.gadling.com/2011/03/07/to...ec1_lnk3|49723

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    Brazen Head is an overpriced tourist trap, otherwise it's a decent list. I would have selected Grogan's though in there, as it's my "local".

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    Obama and the Irish PM met today: http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/03/17/obama.ireland/

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    I look forward to meeting him in May, not that that is in the least bit likely.

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    Better stake a claim to your curbside seat now!

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    What would be the Irish (language) equivalent of 'bloody rain!'?

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    To the devil with the rain or something like that would be most likely but I don't think I've ever heard the specific term in Irish so dunno if it's authentic.
    Ha, googling it I get your question on SDMB, what Michael of Lucan says sounds like what I was going for.

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