Cameron Smyth: Top of the Morning, Leprechaun

Image by Catherine Faulkner

HOW MANY potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman? None. Now, at first I found this funny – yep, ha ha ha, I’m Irish! However, after the fifth or sixth time I hear an Irish joke in a day, it does start to get a wee bit old. That’s the thing that really gets on my nerves sometimes; do the people telling these jokes not think I’ve noticed that I’ve got an Irish accent? Yes, I do know where I’m from and about the famine that killed many of my ancestors, thank you very much for reminding me. Everyone from Ireland is a leprechaun? That’s a fact, apparently. Now, I do like to have a good laugh, but I would really love to hear some new and original material, please. As soon as I say ‘I’m from Northern Ireland’, try not to respond by saying ‘leprechaun’ or ‘potato’ because now the official response will be a punch in the face.

I do understand that over here there may not be such an extent of knowledge about Ireland apart from its obsession with potatoes, stews, leprechauns, Guinness and drunken states. I’m going to admit that four out of five of those are true. However, there are some things that people really need to start to understand. For example, when I say I’m from Belfast, some people think that it’s in Scotland. Others don’t realise that Northern Ireland is a part of the UK whereas Ireland is a separate country. It’s not hard to know; I know your capital cities and which countries they’re in.

And that’s not all. People also need to understand where jokes should stop when it comes to Northern Ireland. When you start to talk about the IRA, or separation of the North and South, it’s not exactly a conversation booster. I completely accept people’s views and have no problem with anyone expressing them. However, if you don’t understand it, then you shouldn’t talk about it. Someone once even joked to me that ‘all the Protestants in Northern Ireland should die’. In essence, they were jokingly rooting for genocide, and this is considered funny? I’m sure the Tutsi’s in Rwanda would feel much the same way.

Now, of course, much of this will be classed as ‘banter’, and I’m cool with a wee bit of banter. I am often referred to as a Bantersaurus-Rex myself. However, some people really do need to learn a few things about which lines shouldn’t be crossed, as well as the simple fact that these jokes are not original. Please don’t go ‘ahh, you’re Irish!’ I know I’m Irish. I know I have the accent (although, technically, it’s an Ulster accent). You don’t need to help remind me. In Ireland, we do have the capacity to remember our own nationality. So, just cut it down a wee bit, although I do say this with the realisation that I may have just performed a spectacular act of reverse psychology.