When I tell most of my friends where I’m interning this summer, they simply don’t get it. As If the thought of me: a pre-med, science student-turned writing fanatic, working at a news publication instead of in a hospital for the summer wasn’t enough, then it must be the fact that I have absolutely zero Irish blood in my ancestry that confuses them. I’m a 21-year-old Jewish girl with Polish, Russian, and German descent- and this summer, I’ve been writing for IrishCentral.com.
My knowledge up until 52 days ago about Ireland consisted of a mixture between leprechauns, the color green, sheep in the middle of a road and some jumbled scenes from the movie “P.S. I Love You.” If you said the word “taoiseach” to me I’d have thought you sneezed. I also knew that Ireland had great scenery.
So, after nearly two months here at IrishCentral, I can now proudly say that my knowledge of Ireland has thankfully expanded to one that’s not based off of a Lucky Charms box. Below is a list of what I believe are the top ten things I learned about Ireland from working at IrishCentral.com
1. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of Guinness
It was only when I started working at IrishCentral that I realized the true depth of how a brew could affect a country. I saw articles on: Obama with Guinness, how to cook with Guinness, top ten facts about Guinness, foods that taste good when paired with Guinness, how Guinness can cut your cholesterol, how Singapore (of all places!) cooks with with Guinness, and, my personal favorite: Queen Elizabeth with a Guinness. After working here, I may have to cheat on my gluten-free diet just to experience that true symbol of Irish culture.
2. Potato farl is not served with a vegetable roll
For my first “Top Ten” article for Irish Central, I picked one that I believed I could screw up the least. Since this was early on in my internship and I still didn’t know too much about Ireland, I thought that I could look up potato recipes, provide a little blurb, and essentially not cause too much harm. I even sent the list to my editors to make sure that they had actually heard of the dishes that I was about to call “popular.”
After spending nearly a week researching my potatoes, the article was finally posted and soon after, I received this comment: “Where did you get the idea that traditional Irish corned beef comes in a tin....and traditionally served at breakfast, also potato farl served with a vegetable roll at breakfast..gees.”
My first emotions after reading that was serious concern that I had offended someone with my elementary knowledge on spuds. People MUST know that I’m not Irish now if I had thought potato farl was served with a vegetable roll of all things. But after reading that comment, I also learned that many viewers approved of my list. So I did learn an important lesson about Irish culture from my potato article: There can be many ways to serve a potato, and Irish people can debate endlessly about which one is the best.
On the other hand, there are certain rules that I just shouldn’t tamper with, and better to just leave it to the experts to the more inexperienced potato eaters which is truly the best.
3. Irish priests aren’t always so holy
I’ve been aware of the sexual scandals involving Catholic priests for a while; having only been inside church a few times across Italy, my knowledge of Christianity is limited at best. But I did know - and double-confirmed it with my editor - that Catholic priests are not married, and thus should not be sexually active.
In my mind, the church is a holy and sacred place, so to me, it’s extra confusing that priests, the ones that have taken a vow of abstinence, break it in such abusive ways. Knowing now that, due to my exposure in just the past few weeks, that scandals like this aren't all that uncommon, what was also surprising to me is how some of the priests aren't kicked out right way.
I wrote an article about sexual abuser Fr Donncha Mac Cárthaigh, who, as Senator Mark Daly pointed out, continues to travel around Europe, wear his priest's collar, and was even given a different job that gave him more access to children after complaints had been made against him.