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When I was at school in the Republic of Ireland, I had to learn Gaelic. I was forced to spend 30 per cent of my time, not learning something useful like maths or science, that would serve me in life. I was a victim of a nostalgic, misguided and retrograde Irish nationalism that the politicians of the day decided to inflict upon us school kids to make themselves feel better
(Holliday, Hyde & Kullman 2004: 192)
This term paper will deal with the culture of Ireland referring to the idiosyncratic cultural norms of it.
Since the relationship between the big topic and the space at my disposal can best be described as unproportional (to say the least), it will, in the end, remain but a very concise (and perforce, somewhat superficial) overlook rather than an in-depth study. One reason for the inadequacy lies in the fact that there are notable divides between the rural people and city dwellers, Catholics and Protestants, Norne Irons (Northern Irelanders) and Irelanders from the Republic, and the Irish-speaking people inside and outside the Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking regions) and the English-speaking majority population. The culture of the Irish is, thus, far from being homogeneous. In order to meet the conditions of a description of the manifestations of Ireland’s culture at different levels nonetheless, I used Geert Hofstede’s ‘onion diagram’ (hence the title) as a guideline and worked through the layers from the outside to the core (cf. Hofstede 1991: 9). Thus, I will deal with Ireland’s symbols first, move on to its heroes, describe some of the rituals, eventually shed some light at the cultural values and close with displaying some of the more common stereotypes.
I cannot begin to thank adequately those who helped me in the preparation of this term paper. The overwhelming majority of information disclosed here is the result of interviews I had with Irish women and men. I am deeply and variously indebted to Siobhán Prendergast from Connemara, County Galway (living in Wetzlar), Bríd Prendergast from Connemara, Michael Sullivan from Thurles, County Tipperary (living in Pohlheim), Jimi Slevin from Dublin (living in Bamberg) and Brian O’Connor also from Dublin (living in Marburg).