The Making of The A to Z of Being Irish

The dynamic author duo, Sarah Cassidy and Kunak McGann, answered my quick fire questions this week on the making of the hilarious and unbelievably accurate The A to Z of Being Irish.

What inspired you to write this book?

The idea for the A–Z came from a conversation about what makes us uniquely Irish. We wanted a book to reflect both the Ireland we grew up in and the Ireland of today: everything from the Angelus to Zig and Zag, really! We thought a dictionary style would work really well, and so The A to Z of Being Irish was born. That’s when the real problems began! For some letters we had no trouble coming up with subjects (B, C and T were full to the brim), but there’s no denying that X, V and Z caused us a few sleepless nights!

How did you decide what to include?

There was A LOT of discussion about which entries made the grade. We aimed to cover a range of topics from all areas of Irish life, everything from what we like to eat (anyone for a black pudding sandwich washed down with a glass of red lemonade?), to how we speak and what we wear.

What are your favourite entries?

Our favourites are the ones that make people stop and say ‘I didn’t even realise we did that!’ Unnecessarily pluralising everything is such an example:

Another is adding food colouring to cheese:

Although neither of us is religious, the Catholic Church is still such a huge part of Irish society that it pops up in all sorts of guises throughout the book, from rites of passage like baptism, communion and confirmation, to other less obvious things that are nearly more superstition than religion – like putting out the Child of Prague, or your granny sticking a picture of Padre Pio in your new Nissan Micra to keep you safe. And of course the honourable Father Ted had to get a mention!

Is there anything you regret not including?

Predictably enough, as soon as we had finished the book and sent it to print, we immediately thought of all the entries we should have included – such as porridge, Tidy Towns and the legend that is Ian Dempsey. But that just means we’ll have to start working on a follow-up. Watch this space!

Sarah Cassidy and Kunak McGann , November 2018

The A to Z of Being Irish – From the Angelus to Zig and Zag is available to buy here and in all good bookshops