Pre­serv­ing our cul­tural her­itage

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - City Final -

FI­NALLY, the UN has clas­si­fied hurl­ing and camo­gie as global pro­tected cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, part of our in­tan­gi­ble her­itage. So fi­nally now we are up there with the Ja­maicans and their reg­gae, the Bel­gians and their beer-mak­ing and the peo­ple of Naples and their piz­zadough mak­ing.

While the UN is at it, there are a few more unique parts of Ire­land’s in­tan­gi­ble her­itage that they should con­sider recog­nis­ing — en­dan­gered cor­ner­stones of our cul­ture that need pro­tec­tion. In the sphere of hurl­ing and camo­gie alone there are many things that need pro­tect­ing — milk in a Lu­cozade bot­tle to go with the flask of tea and sand­wiches on All-Ire­land Fi­nal Day; stop­ping off for one pint on the way to Croke Park and miss­ing the match.

But be­yond that there is a rich cul­tural her­itage that is dy­ing out in Ire­land and some peo­ple cer­tainly think we will be poorer with­out it. What about the Sta­tions of the Cross in peo­ple’s houses? This was an early Irish form of the din­ner party, but where peo­ple did a bit of penance first so it didn’t seem as if they were en­joy­ing them­selves too much. Noth­ing bet­ter than re-liv­ing the pas­sion and cru­ci­fix­ion of Christ to keep peo­ple from los­ing the run of them­selves on a night out. In­deed, there are a whole load of unique tra­di­tions con­nect­ing to our past as a re­li­gious coun­try that should get a her­itage des­ig­na­tion. The phrase “Who said Mass?” and the feel­ing it evokes in a Mass­dodg­ing teen, for ex­am­ple. Or the great Irish tra­di­tion of call­ing peo­ple out from the al­tar for ev­ery­thing from not pay­ing their dues to for­ni­ca­tion.

This time of year is rich with in­tan­gi­ble her­itage. Like go­ing for a pint with ev­ery ran­domer you bump into be­cause it’s Christ­mas, or leav­ing all the presents in the pub when you stopped off for a swifty on the way home, but not re­mem­ber­ing which of the half-dozen pubs you visited that you left the presents in. Choco­late Kim­ber­ley should be up there too, along with the tra­di­tion of buy­ing the Cel­e­bra­tions in Novem­ber be­cause they were on a deal, and hav­ing them eaten be­fore it’s even De­cem­ber. That mild dis­ap­point­ment that the bags of Tay­tos in the Christ­mas box of 20 are small-sized is a uniquely Irish feel­ing. As is the feel­ing of re­lief you get when you re­alise you can just eat an­other bag of them.

Say­ing sorry all the time should also be recog­nised as part of our her­itage. Not say­ing sorry by way of apol­o­gis­ing, but say­ing sorry as a way of try­ing to get the at­ten­tion of a waiter or bar­man. And say­ing sorry when some­one bumps into us, even though it was their fault.

Men bulging out of cy­cling shorts eat­ing scones at road­side cafes should be in­cluded; bitch­ing about the Toy Show; hav­ing a Bono story. I could go on.

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