Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Do Southies Think of Northies?

When I first visited the Republic of Ireland back in 2005, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was exactly the way you would imagine Ireland to be, green, lots of sheep, castles, fiddle-dee-dee music, and very friendly people. Really good craic! People so friendly that once you step in the pub, within 5 seconds locals would come up to you, buy you a pint, and automatically welcome you as an honorary member of their family.

Ever since I returned to the States, I 've had sporadic communication with my friend who I met on that Ireland trip. She is a Dubliner and damn proud of it. When I first got here, I called her and told her the news that I am in the UK. She asked where, and I said, "Belfast!". I could have sworn she fell to the floor in disbelief because I heard a very loud thump. "Belfast?!? Why on earth would anyone want to go there??!?". Of course, she was joking. Er...maybe not?

In a recent email exchange with her, I asked what people in the South think of people in the North. Her reply was:

We think of them just as much as Americans think of Canadians. We don't, really. Imagine that Ireland is one big house. The Northies are the rambunctious children whose room is always a mess. As long as they keep their door closed and don't spread their mess to other parts of the house, we don't care what they do. They also seem to think that our roads don't have speed limits!

In-ter-es-ting analogy! Although, it is untrue about the American vs. Canadian bit. We thought about Canada all the time for 8 years when the idiot was in office.


Jennifer said...

Ha! Nice analogy! Although I would argue that Canadians think of Americans as their rambunctious cousins who love a good time, while we're the boring aunts and uncles, who like peace and quiet. Not that Canada is boring!

Interestingly, I was speaking to someone from R. of Ireland the other day and he said that he didn't recognise the North?! He called it the six counties or something!?

Anyway, I am coming over to Belfast tomorrow and cannot wait!

Unknown said...

Yes, an apt analogy of the rambunctious children in the upstairs bedroom. Reminds me of the time, while living in the South, hearing on the radio, "The North. Ah, the North. Like the poor... (always with us)."

On a more serious note, Northern Nationalists, of course, resent this attitude. The SDLP worked hard to get Southerners to bind themselves with Northern Nationalists (think of New Ireland Forum, 1983). And Sinn Fein, of course, has always maintained one island, one nation theory. (Yet the Shinners are still on a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding Southerners, who mainly hate their guts.)

BTW, if you're knowingly talking to an Irishman, safer to say "the North" or "Northern Ireland", than "United Kingdom" (which could be construed as a Unionist statement, unless, of course, that's your intention!). "Six counties" is the reciprocal Irish republican statement. You can't really go wrong with "Northern Ireland", which I still use on international letters, etc.

Jennifer said...

MR Ulster - Who are "Shinners" and why do people in the South hate them?

Coming over to Belfast tomorrow to meet family and I need a tuturial on current politics! Ha!

Flippin' Yank said...


I've known a few Canadians who knew how to party! They can certainly handle their drinks better than I can. We're weak in that department.

Hope you have a blast in Belfast! You'll either love it or hate it. No in between. I'll be curious to hear your perspective when you come back.:)

Flippin' Yank said...

@Mr. Ulster

I'm not even going to comment on your second paragraph because I would probably write volumes and volumen of questions. I'm currently during research and I am finding the more I read to gain an understanding about the political infrastructure, the more find myself confused. It's like a tangled ball of yarn, I can't unravel. LOL!

As for Northern Ireland, The North, 6 Counties, etc. I notice you have to walk around eggshells when it comes to semantics. Some people are passionately sensitive about it. Another example would be Derry, Londonderry, Stroke City. As an outsider it's out of hand and ridiculous. But that's just the way it is.

I wonder how people in Donegal feel. I mean logistically they are located in the North of Ireland yet they are part of the Republic.

Unknown said...


You could do worse than the standard Wikipedia page:

"Shinners" is a shorthand nickname for Sinn Fein.

You'll need to learn more Irish history to comprehend the Southern attitude to Sinn Fein and the IRA.

For Northern Ireland, I recommend a small book by Marc Mulholland, "Northern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction":

Jennifer said...

Mr Ulster: Thanks, I've done my fair share of Wikipedia surfing. I also started reading this book: (

I just had no idea what people in the South hated Sinn Fein? Surely I would have thought folks in the Republic liked Sinn Fein for trying to unite all of Ireland?? Or am I being a naive Canadian??!

Flippin' Yank said...


I thought people in the South had a soft spot for Sinn Fein too until my fiance set me straight. For example, read about Robert McCartney

Their history is really complex and confusing to me, the more I read about the more I'm confused. Maybe it's just me, but gosh it's messy.

So many questions and I can't really probe anyone for answers(hence my blog) because politics is a taboo subject here and I wouldn't ask anyone I don't know very well because an outsider they think it's not your place even if you think you have a good grasp of the situation here. It's a topic to be best avoided in casual conversation in my experience. Even my fiance gets annoyed because of my relentless questions. I don't blame him it seems like most people are sick of living in the past and want to move on.

It's frustrating because you want to understand. Anyways, I digress...

ILoveUlster said...


Good see you're surviving Norn Iron. Just one comment you seem to like using the word craic. It should be crack! Crack is the Norn Iron word for fun and was borrowed into pseudo Gaelic as craic fairly recently. See

Anonymous said...

As far as the whole craic/crack things goes. Most people north or south use 'craic'. I have never once seen anyone, protestant or catholic write 'crack'.
The only reason i can imagine someone going out of their way to point out this difference, and with a name like 'iloveulster' would be for anti-catholic or anti-southern Irish reasons.