What's The Craic Barack!
You can't put it in a pipe and smoke it, but your addiction will be so great that you'll keep coming back nightly, finding yourself meandering down the narrow cobbled alleys singing 'Diddily Diddely Dee'. "Where can I find this craic?", "How do I know if it is the pure stuff?", "What makes a good craic?" you may be asking. Well, to truly find if the craic is ninety you should know a little history about it first.
The craic has two different yet related meanings. The first and most common has craic being a joke. "Did you hear that craic?", meaning "Did you hear that joke?". Craic can also be defined as gossip or news. Most commonly this would be heard in "Any good craic?" or "What's the craic?", meaning "Any good news?" or "How are you?". This is the context you will usually hear in casual conversation between Irish. The former meaning is used in the context of "going out to have a good craic" more frequently.
Craic (Gaelic spelling) first entered the Irish language via Northern Ireland, borrowed form the English expression Crack during the mid 19th century. It was here that it derived its association with news or gossip from its use in Hiberno-English. Since around the 1970s it has been reintroduced into English with the Gaelic spelling of craic.
The most famous use of the term is arguably from the song "The Crack Was Ninety in the Isle of Man" by Barney Rush. The influence of this song has an Irish person returning a "How's the craic?" with "The craic is Ninety."
Finding Pure Uncut Irish Craic
In its many forms that the craic can take, you will always find in it a social context. The most authentic craic celebrates and embraces the fun and socializing spirit of the Irish people. (Not the same as socialism, Mr. Beck, so please don't go telling everyone there are communists over here.) I have personally found the greatest chances to run into some good ole craic is by treading the slightly less-beaten bath. I guess Robert Frost would say the road less travelled.
As you are exploring the sites of a fabulous new Irish city take the time to chat with the locals as they congregate on street corners as they so often do. You might be taken aback at how personable and delighted they will be to converse with you and have a few laughs. I have witnessed on many occasions authentic Irish craic take place in the middle of the day between two people, growing from nothing more than stopping to say 'hello'.
A different kind of craic
Couchsurfing! While staying in a new city or country this is undeniably one of the best ways to meet local people and break down those social barriers we so often put up. You can experience things that you never had exposuere to and have a great time in the process. From bunking up with artistis in Galway to an unscheduled last minute late night bar hopping in Limerick I have experienced Ireland through different perspectives.
Pubs! Small (family owned is better) pubs in Ireland. Opt out of the large meat factories or trendy new bars that seem to be creeping into the Irish culture. Of the few exports left of my home country, This is one of the worst. Right behind crippling economic policy.
Almost as if a logical proof: If (dank) ^ (drunken Irishman singing) --> (authentic craic); the combination of the right bar conditions and intoxicated Irish singing brings authentic craic. Do not take dank in the wrong context. It arises naturally from the smaller, tighter spaces of traditional pubs coupled with its primary construction material of wood. Dank is an element on the stage of the pub, where we play our roles in the craic of the evening.
Hitchhiking! Hitchhiking? But isn't that like going out into the woods filled of bears without so much as a knife... or walking around Harlem after midnight? Yes, I know right. Its a gas! Isn't that your first bit of the craic right there for ya? Well you would be hard-pressed to be let down hitching in Ireland. But that is another time and this is another story. One way or another you'll find the craic or it will find you. You will at the least meet some interesting people, have stimulating conversation and maybe even get a giant kebab for free.
Uncovering pure, authentic Irish craic is as easy as it is to let oneself go. Wrapping yourself in the grand experience of Irish culture opens up your possibilities.
While there is no controlled set of ingredients that make up the formula for authentic Irish craic, there are a few key elements. You can be guaranteed that sitting in your hostel drinking a beer or Face booking the night away will not lead you to the Promised Land where the craic lies. This I can promise you. craic will always have a social context and more often than not a public setting. This means enjoying the experience of your fellow man, be it your best friend, partner, or the bloke on the bar stool next to you.
Although not a requirement, usually a good craic will involve having a pint or two... err maybe even three. This helps shed those pesky inhibitions and prepares the palette of the mind for an array of flavorful interactions. Providing that you maintain an attitude that is welcoming and open to new experiences, people and you have a bit of lightheartedness you'll have enough craic to satisfy any addictions for fun that you crave.
Have you found any good craic in Ireland? Would you like to share where you found it?