If you grew up in a big Irish family, there are probably countless traditions and funny little quirks that your family has passed down to you whether you like it or not. Growing up you may have thought that these things were normal, but after learning what other people’s families were like you soon realized that was not the case. No matter how Irish you are you will understand and definitely relate to pretty much all of these signs that you, in fact, grew up in a big Irish family.
1. Your family is much bigger and much closer than everyone else’s…literally
When you come from an Irish family, it is extremely likely that you have a brother or sister… or two…or three… maybe even 4. In addition, to this large brood, you’re bound to have at least 5-10 cousins…emphasis on the at least.
2. You’re bound to have at least one Uncle John and Aunt Mary and at least one cousin named Patrick, Michael, Molly, Kevin, or Clare.
The likelihood of getting at least someone’s attention when calling out one of these names is extremely high and the odds of getting more than one person’s attention is almost as likely. You always acknowledge you have the same name, yet it will never not be annoying to have the same name as five other people.
3. Your mom probably forced you into Irish dance at some point.
You went through the stress of wearing the excessive dresses and absolutely hated wearing those uncomfortable curly wigs. You either loved Irish dance and were one of those kids who did it through college or fell off the wagon somewhere around the age of 8. Either way, your grandmother loved to watch because it reminded her of one of her great Irish heroes Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance.
4. …and if you were forced into Irish dance, you were probably forced into altar serving at your local parish and maybe even going to Catholic School.
There is an extremely high likelihood that your family was Catholic and if your family was Catholic, that meant going to Church. Every. Single. Sunday. You really found it hard to figure out what to wear as you got older as you really never wore anything other than your school uniform skirt.
5. Not only has your grandmother probably lit a candle for every single person she knows, but she has also probably prayed to St. Anthony on multiple occasions as well.
If you were sick or were making an important decision, you knew you could count on grandma to light a candle because of course that would cure you. If you lost something, grandma was also pretty tight with St. Anthony.
6. Every wedding, party, and even funeral has an open bar that becomes the place people belly up to by the end of the night.
After any event, there are always the stories of who got the drunkest or who did something to embarrass the family. Once the open bar starts serving, things get dialed up about 15 notches.
7. …and by this time of the night everyone THINKS they can drink like a champ.
Nights like these separate the real drinkers from those lousy lightweights, but by the end, everyone thinks they’re the top dog. Although being pros when it comes to liquor is something we definitely pride ourselves on.
8. Your childhood dinners consisted of meat and potatoes… and occasionally some greens for good luck.
You never complained that your dinners consisted of the same things all the time because there was some variation in the way the potato was served… mashed, baked, or boiled, you didn’t care. It was always a hardy, home-cooked meal no matter what.
9. St. Patrick’s Day is an event bigger than any birthday or Christmas.
Let’s face it; St Patrick’s Day is basically a formal excuse for Irish people to get extremely happy with the alcohol and not get judged for it. It’s the equivalent of a Christmas gift.
10. Family gatherings are long. They’re loud. And they’re extremely frequent.
You know that when your family got together, there would be no chance of you getting a word in edgewise. You had better not schedule anything on that Saturday because family gatherings were an all-day commitment.
11. When you hear your grandmother say “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” you know someone is in some serious trouble.
Saying “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” was like your grandmother’s way of swearing…in a nice way. It could be said over the biggest issues or for things like you forgot to make your bed before leaving the house. Either way, it scared the living you know what out of you.
12. Somehow your mother, aunts, and grandmother call you everyone else’s name in the family when trying to get your attention, except yours.
On the rare occasion that they actually called you by your real name, you were shocked. This disrupted the usual order of first calling you your mother’s name, then calling you your sister’s name, and then finally calling you by your dog’s name before actually getting your name right.
13. …but at the same time they did know seemingly everyone’s name in the surrounding area, maybe even the planet by some odd relation
It wasn’t strange to hear your aunt say, “Oh, aren’t you Peter’s, nephew’s, Godfather’s, cousin’s wedding photographer?” You couldn’t help but wonder: How does someone even go about putting that together?
14. You know that the second you walk into a relatives home, you will be offered a plethora food.
Even if you’re not hungry, you will be fed by your family because the family that eats together stays together. Somehow there was always something for you that ‘just came out of the oven.’
15. Similar to your lack of ability to tell a short story. No one in your family can say a quick goodbye.
Just as its hard for you tell a simple story in under an hour, it takes about the same time to say goodbye at Irish family gatherings. The annoyance is very real when an hour passes and your mother is still trying to say goodbye to her sister.