KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — March is the month to embrace being Irish.
St Patrick’s Day brings Europe to the Caribbean to Africa to South America and Asia, Malaysia included — no other national day is celebrated on such a worldwide scale.
It doesn’t matter if you have Irish blood, mingled with the cheerful chaps from the Emerald Isle or have even met a man from Ireland; pull on a green hat and grab a pint of Guinness — everyone’s Irish on March 17.
But maybe all that we love about Ireland is more than just its national day. Maybe Malaysians and Irish aren’t so different after all.
Maybe, just maybe, there are more intrinsic familiarities shared between these two great nations than we truly give credit for.
Here’s a few things we’ve learned.
1. Distinctive, often bizarre, language
For each country, there is a handful of their own expressions unique to its people.
No better word can sum up a feeling of frustration like aiyo! in Malaysia. Irish folk meanwhile will cheerfully pour scorn on a foolish eejit, an alternative pronunciation of idiot.
See also walao meaning “what the heck” (Malaysia) and craic meaning the crack, a source of fun (Ireland).
2. Both countries have many names for Guinness
In keeping with lingo — Ireland and Malaysia have a number of terms for Guinness.
Don’t be surprised to hear the men and women of Dublin ordering a “pint of Gat” when they approach the bar in Guinness heartland. It can also be ordered by asking for a “pint of plain” or famously “the black stuff.”
Malaysia is less ambiguous — it’s simply a pint of stout, although in Hokkien it can also be Or Gao, meaning black dog.
3. Mythical creatures
Ireland doesn’t quite indulge in superstition like certain parts of Asia, but the ginger-haired leprechaun is something of a national icon, often spotted at the end of rainbow’s sitting atop of a pot of gold.
The toyol is kind of similar but not as benevolent. The creature can be purchased from a bomoh and used for mischievous purposes.
4. Neighbourly banter
We’re all friends here. But that doesn’t mean some light-hearted ribbing goes amiss.
In this case it’s Malaysia who’ll scoff at the achievements of its relatives in the south — Singapore and Indonesia.
The Irish likewise like to engage in some verbal jousting with the British who sit just off the coast.
5. Laid back lovelies
Funny, generous, kind, warming — whose people does this describe best?
It could be either Malaysia or Ireland. Both countries having a reputation for being welcoming to others, in general.
Even this Irishman, who relocated to Langkawi a few years back, listed Malaysia’s greatest asset as the people who “take life as it comes.”
This year, there’s more reason than ever to get involved with St Patrick’s Day — 10,000 more.
Until March 31, Guinness will bring Malaysians together the Irish way by giving away 10,000 free bottles/glasses as part of its St Patrick’s Hat-Trick campaign.
To get involved, follow the simple steps:
1. Buy a set of Guinness.
2. Get your free St Patrick’s Hat.
3. Share unique and creative photos wearing your hat using #StPatricksHatTrick #GuinnessMY.
4. Winners receive one set of five Guinness bottles/glasses.
Now there’s reason to cheer!
* Brought to you by Guinness.
Note: An earlier version of the article contained an error which has since been corrected.