Northern Ireland Culture

Northern Ireland Tourism

Living in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Culture

An Introduction

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only dates from 1922 and from 1801 to 1921 was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Although "united", it is still obvious through the various dialects that it was originally four separate kingdoms and that England itself was settled by a number of different groups with accents varying widely from Georgie (around Newcastle), through Yorkshire, Cockney (in parts of London) to Cornish in the south-west of England. These variations in dialect are reflected in the variety of local culture too.

For instance in London you get a 'party culture'. Also, because of the Tube (the underground railway system there) it's much more common for people to rely on public transport to get around which essentially confines them to the city with consequent knock-on effects on aspects of the local culture. The pay is a good deal higher there too than elsewhere in the country which obviously affects things, sometimes in rather peculiar ways. Because of the much higher cost of housing you get the situation where streets of terrace housing are populated by people driving BMW's and Mercedes which is something that would never happen in Northern Ireland: if you can afford a BMW here you just don't live in a terrace house! Generally speaking pubs (bars, it's short for 'public house') are mostly filled by I suppose what we'd call the 'working class' drinking beer and the like (I don't go to pubs so don't rely entirely on this!) as opposed to the 'wine bars' which is where you'd find the 'middle class' drinking, yes, wine (and fancy drinks too). Probably because it's a big city, people aren't as friendly on the street as they are in less populated areas although they generally aren't as rude as in places like New York. They're OK when you get to know them (remember I work quite closely with our London office and have several relations living there) but they tend to 'keep to themselves'. For instance, when we went to Newbury (outside London) one time to look up a relation the people living next door to him didn't even know his name. As it's something of an international city too you get people either from, or descended from, just about every nationality you could imagine and that affects the culture a good deal too. If you check your map you'll see that it's towards the south of England which affects the climate a whole lot more than I would have thought myself so that the summers are much warmer. Warm enough to allow the cafes and bars to have tables out on the street. It's also quite close to France and, in general, it has a more continental feel to it than cities elsewhere in the country. Oh, and because it takes so long for people to travel to and from work they tend to do some work along the way (so there are lots of mobile phones around) and eat their evening meal much later (anything from 7pm).

So why did I say so much about the culture in London? Well, it's the UK capital and that combined with the large proportion of the total population living there (about 20%) mean that it has a significant influence on culture in the rest of the country. So, almost all examples of a British accent you (and we) hear are actually London accents. If something happens in London it appears on the news everywhere else in the country but if the same thing had happened in, say, Edinburgh you might never hear about it.

So what's it like here? Northern Ireland is largely agricultural with just two big cities and they're not that large either. There's Belfast with about 500,000 people in it and Londonderry (or Derry) with less. Belfast is pretty compact and, if you miss the rush hours, it would take less than 30 minutes to get into the country from anywhere in it. We can get to our house in the country in 20 minutes if there aren't any traffic jams. We don't have an underground system or trolleys or anything like that so public transport basically means the bus (or train, but not within the city). In practice though I think most people get around by car: certainly almost everyone seems to have a car these days. For some reason, that I can't understand, when married people go out in the car it is ALWAYS the husband who does the driving but. It gets really silly at times like when the wife keeps the car during the day and drops her husband off to work first... the husband drives to work with the wife then they both get out so she can drive off which is a really stupid thing to do in rush hour traffic, but it's always what happens!




Northern Ireland Themes was designed by Crystal Consultancy. Copyright 1998-2008 Arnold Stewart.