Irish Citizenship Test (for fun)


In December of 2019 about 2000 people from 100 countries became citizens of Ireland. Here’s a link to a news article. This is a huge number of people considering that the total population of the Republic of Ireland is a little over 4.6 million people (this includes non-citizen “permanent residents”, children, etc.). This mix emphasizes how diverse Ireland has become in the last couple of decades from EU immigration as well as political and economic refugees from around the world. Ireland in general is open to immigration given their history of being welcomed in other countries all over the world. This year some of the immigration is due to Brexit, although some of the UK citizens applying do not attend a “swearing in” ceremony as they acquire citizenship by birth relation to an Irish citizen or a citizen of Northern Ireland. (per the Good Friday Agreement)

This event was a big deal in Ireland and was discussed extensively in social media. One of the lighter threads was a series of questions for a citizenship test (there is currently is no Irish citizenship test). I’ve written this blog around these questions as they are actually a very good glimpse into the corners of the Irish culture. I’’ll give you my answer with a little background info.

Q1: Please explain why the national news is broadcast at exactly one minute after 6pm?

Ireland is a historically a Catholic country and is still very culturally Catholic. The public TV and Radio stations go by the acronym RTE. At 6:00 pm each night the stations have an “Angelus minute” with a ringing bell and reflective video for one minute. The news starts immediately after this minute. If you didn’t go to Catholic school, here is a description of the Angelus.

Q2: Sean: "You wouldn't put the kettle on would you?"

Mary: "I will yeah"

Is Mary going to put the kettle on for Sean?

Seán is not going to get any hot water for his tea unless he does it himself.

Q3: “Mammy is after going to get the messages.” Explain.

Mammy (Mom, mother, …) just left to buy the groceries

Q4: "Give 2 or 3 examples of where/when you can apply the word ‘yoke’"

Example 1: Y’er mans a yoke - Y’er man is very hard to deal with …

Example 2: “Yoke” can equal “thing-a-ma-bob”.

Q5: The immersion. Discuss.

The Immersion is an electrical Hot water heater. Most are “dual fuel”: Gas via the central boiler or heater and electric. During the summer the electric mode is used. During the winter hot water is a “free” bi-product of the heating system.

Q6: In the event that you lose your passport, should you

(a) report it lost and apply for a new one

(b) apply for a temporary passport or

(c) pray to St Anthony?

(c) of course … give St. Anthony a chance first… especially since it’s easier.

Q7: A local man becomes successful. Discuss the reactions that this may illicit among his neighbors (300 pages or less 😉)

Think small town jealousy in the US

Q8: Where were Miley and Fidelma caught?

This is a reference to a very popular Irish TV show that ran 1983-2001, Glenroe. The short answer is “the Cow Shed” … The whole “affair” was handled quite puritanically on Irish TV, but was still considered quite scandalous. Here’s a link to Glenroe.

Q9: Give 6 examples of how to use 'grand' and ‘bollix'

Grand is a multi use word.

How’s your granny? Grand (even if she is sick with cancer)

How’s your breakfast? Grand (even if the roll is stale, …)

Do you want more tee? No I’m grand.

Are you sure you’re grand? I can put on the kettle for more tea if you want.

I’ll be grand when I win the lotto.

That’s grand so.

The tone of voice can also affect the meaning. Think of a US teenager saying "I'm Fiiiine" with a passive aggressive tone to the voice.

Bollix generally can be used anywhere you would use BS in the US.

Did Mary put on the kettle for Seán? Se did in her bollix.

Did Seán get up and put on the kettle for himself? No, He didn’t, the lazy bollix.

Did the tradesman call at the arranged time? No, he’s another useless bollix.

Q10: Bye bye bye bye bye bye bye’ is an appropriate way to end a phone conversation, yes or no?

Absolutely appropriate, even for business calls. There seems to be a contest to see who can have the last bye.

Q11: What does 'put the delph in the press' mean?

Put the crockery in the cabinet. Crockery is dishes. Delph is a relatively upscale “china” that was popular in Ireland. Press means cabinet.

A Sign pointing to the Delph

Q12: How well should you have known someone to attend their funeral?

Not at all. You are almost obligated if you ever talked to them or were an acquaintance of their siblings or children or if you were a neighbor once or worked with the deceased or just worked in the same company as the deceased.

Q13: Fill in the blank..."roll it there...

This line comes from a very popular TV show, the Late Late Show, when it was previously hosted by Gay Byrne (who died recently). If he wanted a video clip to be started he would say “roll it there,Colette” (in later years it was Róisín instead of Colette) and that was used throughout Irish society when one wanted to get something started.

Q14: If you are living in one part of the country, having grown up in another part of the country - which is 'home' and which is 'home, home' Supplemental question - What is the difference between going 'out' and going 'out, out’?

home home - Home Town in the US, the place you grew up.

home - Where I live now

“out” for a pint or to the shop

“out out” means going out for a session. For the day or the evening. Don’t look for me many anytime soon.

Q15: Can you explain where yer man from up above lives ?

“Yer man” translates to "your man”. Up the street or on the first floor (2nd floor in US). Yer man could also be up the other end of the bar or the supermarket or anywhere else.

Q16: Aoifes leaving cert is next week. What concrete steps can Aoifes grandmother take to ensure her success?

The “leaving Cert” is the SAT and High School “final exams” put together. It is taken by the equivalent of High School Seniors. The score will determine the Universities where Aoife will be accepted.

The concrete steps might include:

1. Lighting a candle at the Church

2. Stuffing her with lots of food …. some even nutritious.

3. Saying a prayer to St. Anthony or St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

Q17: Bridie: Are you going to take the dog for a walk at all? Dónal: I'll do that now in a minute. When will Dónal take the dog for a walk: -Now -In a minute -Other - please specify

Other: When I get around to it or never.

If you knew the answer to most of these questions, you have lived most of your life in Ireland and could be writing this blog. Even some of the Irish have a hard time with these questions. The questions are a reminder that although the Irish culture is similar in many ways to the American or English culture, it is still very different.

See You in the Pub!

Jet Lag Jack

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