I’ll be the first to say I have heard of Irish stereotypes for as long as I can remember. I guess what mostly entered my consciousness was that Irish people were shorter, red-haired and friendly. So far, this is not offensive but, it does give a generalization or a stereotype of what people might think of the Irish and their culture.
See the video below where Conan O’Brien gives a talk on banning offensive, Irish stereotypes.
I’m not sure where these ideas even came from. It could have been from literature or movies. I will state that the notions that presented themselves were pretty much false. I do not know why we ever associated red-headed people with Ireland? Perhaps it is a link to mythical things or people who represent a certain part in Irish history. Surely, red-headed people exist everywhere.
Also, I assumed that people who are Irish tended to be of the fairer complexion. However, I have a good friend who is dark-skinned and is part Irish. This person does not look or sound Irish based on preconceived ideas. But where did this stereotype come from where most Irish people were light-complected, red-haired and small in stature? I have a guess which I believe relates to leprechauns. Since they are so small and many of them are depicted as red-headed, I think many outsiders started to think that this was a standard representation of Irish society.
Another stereotype, which Mr.O’Brien touches on in the video clip, is that the Irish tend to be careless, temperamental and alcoholics. I am shaking my head on this one. I wonder where on earth we as a world got this idea? I do realize that Ireland does have a fair share of pubs and little places to go and get a drink. I also realize that Ireland is a country where there are many ties to celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day. I step back here and must accept that nearly every place in the world has watering holes, bars and pubs.(and even celebratory events) Ireland is no different there. And these places have people just like all countries do who enjoy these establishments more than others. Ireland is no different there. And yes, when people get out of hand when they have been throwing back a few, they can be a bit rash or moody. But, again, Ireland is no different there either. Wherever some of these stereotypes developed, I think it is about time that they were laid to rest. It might be funny to joke like Conan does because I know we have all held such beliefs about Ireland. However, the real question is whether or not they were ever justified.