Is it just me or has anyone noticed how many Irish things come in threes? I reckon it all started 5200 years ago in an underground stone passage at Newgrange with this carving on a rock:
It may be easy, as a foreigner, to miss the importance of the number three here. I will probably need to explain a bit as, firstly, your ear would not be used to the subtleties of the accent. The first time I noticed this was in 2004, the year we arrived, and the supermarket P.A. system declared that ‘If you buy two, you get a turd free’. I nearly missed that one! I’d been living in South Africa and my ear wasn’t tuned in yet. Back there I was used to humour but it fell more under the laugh and death category, not so much the dirty jokes. For example, in SA You could fly on a local airline and be asked to put on a ‘laugh’ jacket in the event of an emergency.
South Africans deal with so much death and other hateful things, they are definitely good at looking on the bright side of life. ‘Laugh’ is too short to take yourself too seriously.
After all this time though, I’ve become so used to the Irish accent and expressions that when we go back to SA to visit, I think my nieces and nephews talk funny. And I get some odd looks when I snort with laughter through the airline safety demonstration.
However, that beautiful and mysterious three spiralled symbol, the origins of which nobody seems to know the meaning, got me thinking about all the things that come in threes in this country, and there are many:
- The flag has three bands: green, white and orange.
- The Trinity
- The shamrock (national symbol for good luck) has three leaves.
- Three most important institutions: Church, state and the pub.
- Three times your parents bring you to church: your baptism, communion and confirmation.
- Most typical Irish dinner would consist of: bacon, cabbage and potatoes.
- Any self-respecting Irish Mammy should be able to bake these: scones, apple pie and tea brack.
- Most popular three ‘minerals’ (not ‘a solid, naturally occurring inorganic substance’, more like the opposite): coke, club orange and 7-up.
- Likewise three fruit juice flavours you will always find: apple, orange and blackcurrant
- Three drinks consumed in greatest quantities? Guinness, tea or blackcurrant juice.
- Sauce for your chips? Ketchup, mayonnaise or curry sauce.
You may be able to think of many more, and please note, this list is not based on any surveys or research, it’s just a wee bit of craic.