When I say Irish, the first thing that comes to my mind is a leprechaun: a short little man with a red beard in knickerbockers and buckled shoes with a tailored green suit and a pot of gold standing next to him.
But what are Irish people really like? For some reason, I doubt that they all really have red hair and freckles, wear leprechaun-y style outfits, riverdance on St. Patrick's Day and have Hagrid-style accents.
The only Irish holiday/feast I know is St. Patrick's day, and that's only because St. Patrick got captured by pirates and sailed to Ireland.
Does anyone know some other holidays, feasts and/or traditions that the Irish people have?
Knickerbockers originated in America.
Props to you for wanting to know more about our culture. It's difficult to answer your questions without generalising, just as the stereotypes you have mentioned do.
Irish people celebrate pretty much every major holiday in America (except for things like Thanksgiving, 4th of July, etc.) that you can think of. Irish people have bank holidays where nobody has work or school. Also, instead of getting one or two days off at, let's say, Halloween, they get one or two weeks. Irish people are definitely NOT how people picture us: short, red hair + freckles, always in green, thick accents. I lived in Ireland for most of my life, and I can tell you that they are not like that at all. An average, everyday person in Ireland would have brown or blonde (occasionally red) hair, average height, blue/green eyes, fair skin and some freckles. I, on the other hand, stand out from all of my fellow Irish friends. I am very tall with white skin, blonde hair, bright green eyes, and no freckles. I hope my post helped!
The same non-descript mousey brown hair that most other people around seem to have (at least the men - women are more likely to take control of such things!)
That's super interesting, I really appreciate it! And getting two weeks off on Halloween -- Can I just say, sweet! And, yes, this helped extremely. :) :) :) I always thought the way people thought people from Ireland looked was quite ridiculous. Are there holidays in Ireland that people in America don't have?
The gene for red hair is recessive, so both parents need to have a copy of it, to produce a red haired child. It is not really that common, although it would be relative to other places.
The week long Halloween holiday is a relatively recent thing. In 1977, the October Bank Holiday on the last Monday of October was introduced, because Ireland didn't have as many public holidays as most other countries in the EU. The last Monday in October is always just a few days before the 31st of October, so it made sense for schools to use that week for a mid-term break.
While many features of Christmas in Ireland are similar to Christmas in the US, the schedule is quite different. Christmas Eve isn't really that big a deal, but St Stephen's Day (December 26th) is key part of Christmas in Ireland.
And Nollaig na mBan/Women's Christmas/Little Christmas is observed on January 6th (It is the 12th day of Christmas). It's not a public holiday, but it does mark the end of Christmas - many people keep their Christmas Tree and decorations up until then.
Accents are tricky. They're like languages. You need to learn to recognise them, which is difficult. We are normally only accustomed to hearing our own region's accent and what the TV says.
As an Irishman abroad, I've been told variously that I have a Canadian, US, Australian, English, Scottish, and South African accent. My conclusion is that people are generally poor at accent recognition.
In England, Irish accents are widely recognised, but it is only within Ireland that they can be accurately distinguished into their respective regions.
If you don't believe me, Hagrid's accent is in fact English rather than Irish, more specifically it's a West Country accent.
One other somewhat subtle difference between holidays in Ireland and both the US and the UK is that Ireland doesn't have an "end of summer" holiday. In the UK, the last Monday of August, and in the US the first Monday of September both mark the end of summer, and the start of autumn/fall, but Ireland has a holiday on the first Monday of August, and doesn't have this "end of summer" marker. Families with kids obviously have a major shift in gears when they go back to school, but if the weather stays fine in September, then it's still summer.