Closer to Barack than Berlin

Yes We Can

Yes We Can!

Several weeks ago, after I had got back from spending the end of the summer in Ireland, I blogged about native Irish wit and the ability of our Hibernian cousins to take something that has become commonplace and squeeze it with a fresh twist of something subtle, unexpected, and intelligent. There is something of the same spirit in the slogan that Obama (I’m going to say he did it, likely as not it was one of ‘his people’ but I’m just going to pretend) coined or rather gave new life to through translation into Irish last year on his state visit to trace his family’s Irish roots to Moneygall in County Offaly.

Not to be outdone by HR the Q in her visit four days earlier – the first by an English monarch to The Republic of Ireland, when King George visited in 1911, it was still part of the UK – when she opened her speech in Dublin with “A Uachtaráin agus a chairde (President and friends)”, Potus closed his speech “as gaeilge” with the now famous “Is Feider Linn” (Colloquially, “Yes we can!” Say it with me, IS-Fayder-lin).

Like the French, the Irish like it when foreigners at least make an effort to speak the language that has been so neglected for so long by its own people and the Irish certainly like a president who is willing to come back home to find his roots. A cynic might say that he knows how to pay homage to the old Kennedy Irish American lobby, which there may be a bit of, but I think he did genuinely really enjoy himself and he certainly endeared himself to the people of Ireland by going one better than Dubya and sipping some of the black stuff in Moneygall local Ollie Hayes Pub.

Obama tall dark had some

The President sipping ‘the black stuff’ (Taken from post-gazette.com)

There’s a perpetual debate in Ireland about whether the nation’s policies and politics in general should be closer to Europe or the North Atlantic, succinctly put as “Are we closer to Boston or Berlin?” I think it’s clear how the Irish felt on this occasion.

What I didn’t realise until my recent visit is that the above image is now doing the rounds on postcards all over Ireland, commemorating the occasion with the phrase, “Tall, Dark and Had Some”. Irish wit.

Especially with the Romney campaign starting to look desperate, I think it’s worth popularizing the Celtic version of Obama’s tagline and chanting it at rallies as it is so indelibly associated with hope and possibility. Like some secret victory code. You start. Go ahead. Is Feider Linn. Is Feider Linn. Is Feider Linn…

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4 responses

  1. Snoring Dog Studio | Reply

    What a delightful post! And instructive – Is Feider Linn. A beautiful language and a beautiful sentiment. That is some dark beer! Wow! Molasses!

  2. Guiness is great and somewhat predictably, the president said what everyone says, that it’s so much better from an Irish beer tap than it is in the US, but it is still true. It’s the pouring and the waiting that’s key.

    And Irish, yes a great language. Alas, I didn’t make it very far in teaching myself but I’d love to learn more and be able to converse. Well done to Obama and the queen for giving it the ole college try!

  3. I love it. One of the things I find so endearing about Obama is how much he seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with the public. It just makes him seem a like a decent guy. And man does that phrase roll off the tongue in Irish (whether I’m pronouncing it correctly or not). Great post, as usual.

    1. I’m sure you’re pronouncing it perfectly and yes, Obama’s general nice guy image vs. Romney’s near caricature of the heartless Republican party of the rich really makes me wonder why polls are still running so close, so I guess I better send in my vote tomorrow morning. Thanks, Marina.

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