1.What are members of the Irish parliament called (besides "wankers")?
The answer is: T.D.s, with stands for Teachtai Daile, which more or less means M.P. All the Irish people got this right (thank God, I'd be a bit worried otherwise). I don't think any non-Irish people got it, though! Special points to socmot, who answered "sex machines". All too inaccurate, but amusing. The "too clever by half" award goes to morag_gunn, who answered "Before 1829? Protestants. Now? Members of the Dail". Sadly, the Irish parliament was disolved by the Act of Union in 1801, and there wasn't another one until 1919. So although Catholic emancipation did indeed happen in 1829 (in which case the same thing could be said of the British parliament), there hadn't actually been an Irish parliament for Catholics to be members of for nearly 30 years, and there wouldn't be for another 90 years. And even that one wasn't acknowledged by the powers that be in Britain, as it was one of the events which kicked off the War of Independence.
2. Name the four Irish provinces.
Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connaught/Connacht (I'll accept both spellings). Many non-Irish people seemed to be amazed that we have provinces at all, but we do! More points to socmot for telling us that they were " The Pale, The Bog, The Warzone, and The Wesht". Heh.
3. When did divorce become legal in Ireland?
1996, although the referendum was in '95. And here is my shameful confession: I went to the polling station too late to vote because I'd called in to P's band's rehearsal studio to say hello on the way home! I think I thought it was open until nine and it wasn't. Anyway, if it hadn't got in I think I would have blamed myself to this day.
4. When did (most of) Ireland become a Republic?
Now, this was shameful. The answer was 1949 - the Treaty which set up the independent Irish state was 1921. We were part of the Commonwealth from 1921 until we finally became a republic in the '40s. I am horrified by the amount of my compatriots who thought we became a republic straight away - including SOMEONE WHO HAS A HISTORY DEGREE!!
5. Do you know what any of these things and people are?
Most of you didn't, but that's okay, because they're very local. The fact that virtually no British people knew anything but the most obvious touristy things is another reminder that the British-Irish cultural exchange is a one-way system!
Ah, Bosco. What can you say? Bosco was a wooden-headed glove puppet who was the, um, star of a hugely popular children's programme in the late '70s and early '80s. One of the presenters was the uncle of kids on our road, which seemed very glamorous at the time. All together now - "knock, knock, any more, come with me through the magic door".... to the bottle factory! God, it was always the bottle factory. Or the zoo, if you were lucky. Not half as cool as the different shaped windows in Playschool. And Bosco was no Little Ted or Hamble.
The Gaelic Athletic Assocation. Created back in the heyday of the Gaelic League, this horrible and all-powerful organisation is devoted to indigenous Irish sports, most of which are played outside evil urban Dublin. Nevertheless, its main and vast stadium is the heart of our Gaa-indifferent city, and for weeks on end the streets of my native region of Drumcondra are filled with stupid fans who don't seem to realise that they're not in their fucking village now and can't actually walk down the middle of one of the busiest roads in a large city. Am I bitter? Am I bigoted against those nice well-meaning fans? Yes. But then, I spent 27 years not being able to get home because half the population of Monaghan were swarming all over Drumcondra Road.
Podge and Rodge
Two evil-minded puppets who appear on an intermittently amusing programme on RTE. Podge started off on a kids' show before turning evil. Now he and his equally vile sibling, Rodge, have their own show (with their cat, Pox) in which they tell gruesome stories. It's sometimes merely noxious, sometimes highly amusing. The last episode I saw (last week) featured a reference to a (fictional) porn film called "Langer-Mania II", which is so incredibly Irish it made me laugh quite a lot.
Area of the West of Ireland in which Irish is widely spoken. Also, a rite of passage for middle class teenagers, who go off to three-week long "Irish colleges" in the summer. Basically, it's like a summer camp except you have to go to Irish classes, there's a ceili every night and you're not allowed to speak English at all (and in some places, like the one I went to, are sent home if you're caught speaking English more than twice). I first went to the Gaeltacht (in West Cork, which pretends to be a Gaeltacht but which isn't really - unlike, say, Spiddle, no one actually speaks Irish in the area, even if you try and buy a copy of Smash Hits as Gaeilge) in 1990, and again in 1991. It was great because the colaiste didn't really care if you spoke Irish or not so we just used to sit around talking about the Doors and the Stone Roses. Then in 1992 my chums and I decided to branch out and went as cinnires (camp counsellors, basically) to a hardcore Gaeltacht in Galway. We had to go on a cinnire course at Easter and, if we got chosen, we went back again in the summer. It was fun in one way and fucking horrendous in another, because if you were a cinnire you were put without your friends in a house of younger kids and had to boss them around. I didn't care if they spoke English or Irish or Latin so I was a bad cinnire. I had absolutely flawless spoken Irish for a while, though, but it's kind of faded away now. And anyway, the real reason we wanted to go to the Gaeltacht was because, in a country of single sex schools, it was the only chance any of us got to hang around with the opposite gender.
Our houses of parliament, upper and lower.
Irish theatrical legend, who died last year. Was a queen of panto back in the days before pantos were performed entirely by boy band members and TV has-beens.
The Floozy in the Jacuzzi
Fountain/statue combo of 'Anna Livia' (aka the Liffey) which was situated in the middle of O'Connell Street and quickly aquired the above nick-name. It was removed a year or two ago (AND WHERE IS IT NOW, EH?!?!) because it was getting clogged up with litter, which casts a shameful light on our city. I actually liked it quite a lot, but I think I was in a minority.
Dublin chain of large rambling Victorian cafes which closed down recently. Until about eight years ago, Bewley's was absolutely wonderful - there were three big branches in the city centre and they looked like they hadn't changed in about eighty years. There were roaring fires and old Chinese wallpaper and gorgeous big Harry Clarke stained glass windows. You could lurk in a corner of the vast Grafton Stret one for ten hours over a single cup of hot chocolate. I had many intense teenage conversations in there, and have very, very fond memories of the place. And then they decided to fancy them up and destroyed the decor and the atmosphere. I wasn't even sad when the cafes closed down for good because as far as I was concerned, they were lost forever as soon as they were done up.
The Walls of Limerick
A traditional Irish dance, which everyone learns in the Gaeltacht. Two opposite two, cross over, dance out, dance back again, under the arms and face the next pair - it's great fun. No, seriously, it actually is!
Evil old bag from the Blasket Islands whose memoirs were forced on innocent Leaving Cert Irish students for decades (and presumably still are). Our irish teacher actually didn't make us do Peig properly (thank God), because the syllabus had changed, allowing us to choose between Peig and the Toraiocht (see below). So we just did a quick run through of the vile woman with "one foot in the grave and another one on the edge".
Toraiocht Diarmuid agust Grainne
Ancient Irish myth about star-crossed lovers which is part of the Leaving cert Irish course. Much more entertaining than Peig, not least because there's a bit about a man who swallows an apple with a worm in it and then a bump appears on his head and it gets bigger and bigger until a giant PEIST (worm) bursts out of it. Vile, but more interesting than Peig and her poxy island. There's also sex in it. Well, we're told that Diarmuid "makes a woman" of Grainne, if you know what they mean, and I think you do.
Technically the Angelus is a Catholic practice of saying certain prayers at twelve noon and six in the evening. But in Ireland, it's just "bong! bong! bong!" One of the big hangovers of the days in which there was no division between church and state is the fact that to this day at six o'clock (and possibly 12, actually, although I haven't watched RTE at noon, um, ever) RTE plays a minute-long film of people looking pensive with bells tolling over it so all us nice Catholics can start Hail Marying away. It's unintentionally pretty hilarious, if preposterous in this day and age. We are the only country in the world whose early evening news is called the "Six-One" news.
So, how did you do?