“So my family’s Irish and so my dad knows a bunch of Irish shit that he brushed up on when we went to Ireland. So he told this joke to a lot of people in Ireland. And it’s:
An American walks into a bar in somewhere in Ireland and sits next to a really old guy drinking a beer. And the old guy’s like, “Did you see that wall on your way into town?” And the guy’s like, “Yeah.” And the old man’s like, “I built that wall with my own two hands. But do they call me O’Grady the Mason? Noooo.” Then he’s like, “Did you see those cabinets on your way into the bar?” And the guy’s like, “Yeah.” And the old man’s like, “I build those cabinets with me own two hands. But do they call me O’Grady the Carpenter? Noooo.” Then he says, “Did you see the iron gates on the way into town?” And the guy’s like, “Yeah.” And the old man’s like, “I built those gates with me own two hands. But do they call me O’Grady the Smith? Noooo. But you fuck one goat…”
The informant told me this joke in an Irish accent. He was excited when he remembered the joke, because it’s one of his favorites. I think he likes being part Irish (he said that his great-grandfather came here from Ireland), so this joke reminds him of his heritage. It also reminds him of his trip to Ireland last year, of which he has fond memories. Furthermore, the joke is a little dirty, so as a 23 year old, the informant understands and appreciates the more mature humor. I quote, “It’s fucking hilarious”. The informant learned the joke from his father, who learned it in an attempt to reconnect with his Irish heritage. Folklore can form powerful ties when it comes to heritage, ethnicity, and nationalism. Learning and understanding the jokes of a culture can make someone feel a closer connection with that culture, because humor is often culture-specific. Thus, both the informant and his father use this joke to feel more Irish.
I have met many people who are proud of their “Irish heritage”, even though they weren’t born in Ireland and may never have even been there. I think it’s more common when those people’s parents have also been proud of the link to Ireland, so they grew up hearing about their Irish heritage. So it makes sense that both the informant and his father feel this connection to Ireland and therefore love the joke. I found the joke funny, although I didn’t get it right away. I’m not Irish at all, so that could have something to do with it. The joke mentions various jobs that the Irish hold, including mason, carpenter, and smith. There jobs all involve manual labor and skilled hands. It reflects a big part of the economy in Ireland, as least before industrialization. The Irish would mainly work with their hands for money, because that’s what the culture and geographical constraints pushed them to. The joke also mentions a goat, because goats are common on Irish farms, and the people there interact with more often than here in LA for example. It’s funny that the old man had sex with a goat because it’s weird, which is half of why the joke is successful. The other half is because of the repetition of the pattern three times, a magic number in western culture. Overall, I think the joke is amusing.