PIQ Interview: Seamus Mullarkey aka “Rashers Tierney” Author of F*ck You I’m Irish
Seamus Mullarkey is an Irishman living in New York who like many transplants loves the city but found himself missing and talking constantly about home. Luckily for us Seamus is writer with a deep sense of history and the skill to make everything entertaining. Under the pseudonym Rashers Tierney, he wrote the history and social impact of the Irish people in a short book F*ck You I’m Irish that will leave anyone laughing.
Seamus will join us at PIQ Grand Central Terminal on St. Patrick’s Day Friday March 17 from 3pm-7pm.
A shocking fact from your book is that a traditional Irish St Patrick’s Day does not include rivers of green beer, “sexy” leprechaun costumes, or face paint. You describe a somber religious and family holiday that seems sadly bereft of drunken mid-day hookups. How do real Irishmen view what we have done with their holiday?
Yes, you’re right; a traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day WAS more like an American Thanksgiving, with a family dinner and sedate parade. However, in recent years, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland has become more like the American version, with leprechaun costumes, millions of plastic shamrocks, not to mention face paint galore. I suppose it’s a sign of cultural blending as the world grows together. Plus, let’s not forget that the new “American-style” St. Patrick’s Day is a great boost to the Irish economy. People realized that giving American visitors what they expect makes them come back for more. I guess it’s a question of the pot of gold winning out over tradition.
Speaking of St Pat’s Day hookups, can you give us a couple of quick Irish facts that can be incorporated into pickup lines?
You could ask if your potential date has kissed the Blarney Stone. If not, maybe you should claim you’ve kissed it, and that you’re the next best thing? Also, a rousing bar or two of “When Irish eyes are smiling,” is pretty sure to get someone’s attention—and that’s always a good start. If all else fails, ask if they’d like to count your freckles—who knows where that might lead?
You book is quite a vocabulary building tool. I will now be describing happy wasted people as being “ flutheredly banjaxed”. Can you teach us any other Irish terms that can be used to describe drunk revelers?
There are so many! One of my favorites is “jarred” (jar meaning a beer glass in this case). “Polluted” is a great one for a drinker who is so obviously drunk—it looks as sobriety might never reoccur. To explain away embarrassing incidents or convey disapproval, the prim “I believe drink was taken,” is an all-time classic.
In F*ck You I’m Irish you show that if they didn’t invent the backhanded compliment, the Irish have an innate ability to insult you while smiling. Can you give us a few useful barbs that have more subtlety than the direct style of New York insults?
Said with the right inflection, anything as innocent as “to each his own,” “isn’t it fine the way it is,” or “I think it’s lovely,” can sting. It’s all in how you say it…
The stereotype of Irishmen as drinkers has a bit of truth within the horrible caricature. Every culture has its firewater. The US has moonshine, but Ireland has a rotgut with a much longer history. Have you tasted Poitin? Tell us about what this is made of and how? Does it really involve dairy products?
I have tried poitin—and I have never wanted to repeat the experience. Just bear in mind that apart from drinking it, one of its traditional uses is to rub it on arthritic joints. I don’t remember it having much of a flavor at all, but it did instantly bring sharp, stinging tears to my eyes. I won’t say how old I was at the time, but it probably did stunt my growth. It was usually made with potatoes or barley—but also from dairy products or treacle. There’s probably a way to make it out of many more substances. I suppose it’s a case of “where there’s a will there’s a way…” There now are legal, connoisseurs’’ versions available—and I think they’re probably far more flavorable—not to mention safer.
Your credentials naturally make you the ultimate judge of Irish beers McSorley’s is the oldest Irish pub in NYC and only serve their own brews. How do theirs stack up to Guinness?
The diplomatic answer—just in case somebody might be buying me pints of either one—is that every kind has its individual charms.
How did you come up with the nom de plume and personality Rashers Tierney?
Rashers Tierney was a character from the novel “Strumpet City” by James Plunkett, which was mainly about poverty in early 20th century Dublin. Rashers was a lovable, roguish beggar who had a host of facts and anecdotes to persuade generous souls to part with their money. I hoped some of that might rub off on me!
Let’s end where we started. If you could make American’s stop doing one embarrassing thing on St. Patrick’s Day what would it be?
Look, every opportunity to celebrate and let your hair down is to be savored—so if you’re having a good time, God bless you! However, personally I have to draw the line at green dye in drinks—alcohol doesn’t need any additional coloring—it’s fine just the way it is…
"I grew up in Ireland, hearing all about its rich culture, complex history and troubled past from schoolbooks and my family. I thought I knew everything Irish--until I started researching this book."
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