A few random observations about Ireland

I decided to use my 10 Euros for 24 hours internet access to do some websurfing and pretty much the first thing I see is that Joanna Russ has died aged 74. I’m very shocked, because like many others I admired her writing, both fiction and non-fiction, enormously. If I’d have to name a favourite, I’d probably go with How to Suppress Women’s Writing, which is a real eye-opener. If I ever find myself in the position to teach a women’s writing or gender and writing class, that book will go on the reading list.

And now for some random observations about Ireland. More detailed reports will follow, once I’m back home:

  • Every official sign as well as many memorial plaques are bilingual in English and Irish. There also is one TV channel entirely in Irish and occasional Irish programming on another. However, posters and non-official signage is usually in English only. I saw one academic focused bookstore with a section of books in Irish, but the more commercial bookshops were almost entirely in English.
  • I really can’t make heads or tails of Irish, even less so than Welsh. At least I have some vague idea how to pronounce Welsh. I cannot pronounce Irish at all.
  • There are almost more hairdressers in Dublin than there are pubs. In some areas, it seems as if every second shop is a hairdresser.
  • Irish highstreets looks very much like British highstreets. You have pretty much the same stores and brands, e.g. Boots, Tesco, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Marks and Spencer’s, Debenham’s, Argos, all the old standbys. Only Primark is called Penney here and the ubiquitous greeting card shops are missing.
  • Oddly enough, the largely defunct German supermarket chain Spar is very much alive and kicking here. They even have the same logo.
  • Clothing prices are similar to British prices and more expensive than German prices. Only that it’s even more notable here than in the UK, because Ireland is an Euro country.
  • Families are definitely bigger. We saw a whole lot of visibly pregnant women, babies in strollers and older children. Very often, the mothers look extremely young, too. Looks like the contraception ban is having an effect. Though I did see condoms for sale at Boots.
  • People here are just as mad about the royal wedding as elsewhere.
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