The couth truth. A popular perception of the Irish is that they're all fiery, freckle-faced red-heads who'll start a fight at the slightest offence (e.g., being called British). The bit about the freckles is accurate eugh, but the typical Irish person has brown hair and blue eyes. And while they may be descended from the Celts, a fearless people whose warriors were kwn to run naked into battle, most modern-day Irish people would think twice before running naked into the bathroom. Avoid the void. There's use denying it, Irish people talk a lot. They don't kw why. It just seems to pour out of them. Maybe it's something to do with living on a lonely mist-covered island on the western fringe of Europe. Whatever the reason, they just can't abide silence. It's a vacuum that must be filled. The write stuff. The Irish devotion to literature is almost a character weakness. It is said that every Irish person has a book inside him or her. Very few of them can be persuaded to leave it there. From gags to riches. The myth of the thick Paddy-once especially popular in Britain-has waned in recent years. But the stereotype of the Irish as a charming-yet-feckless people lingers. They are seen as being ruled by their emotions, incapable of organization, and uninterested in material things. This has become very useful in business negotiations. The ability to pose as hopeless romantics with concern for money has been a big factor in making Ireland one of the richest countries in the world.
Frank McNally was born close to the border between Ireland's two political jurisdictions, a fact that puts him in the unique position of being equally distrusted by people on both sides. He grew up on a farm, but as with many young men, there came a time when he could no longer resist the lure of the big city. Unable to find one in Ireland, however, he moved to Dublin. Shrewdly, he spent much of the depressed 1980s working for the unemployment section of the Department of Social Welfare. It was an exciting time for welfare in Ireland, with record growth in all the main schemes. But it couldn't last. By the end of the decade, it was clear the glory days were over. He left the civil service and spent some time travelling, hoping to find himself. Sure enough, while on a visit to Thailand, he found himself short of money and needing to go home and get a proper job. He turned to journalism, where he learned to cut a long story short. He now works for The Irish Times, for which he writes on subjects including parliament, the peace process, and the annual invasion of his kitchen by ants.