"I think that Irish people speak a very special language. It's not that they are being insincere, but that they like to play with words and often sound as if they don't mean what they say, or say what they mean. But there is a wealth of difference between this phenomenon and actual insincerity. You could compare it to the difference between diplomacy and a certain kind of licking!

The reason for this game of words is that Irish people tend to see conversation as a kind of poker game, the Irish know between themselves what each one means. It's just that it makes conversation more stimulating.

Everyone in Ireland must have a completely original way of saying the most obvious thing. If an Irish person were to tell their friends that the world was ending tomorrow, nobody would be even vaguely interested unless they gave the news in an interesting way. They would just say, `Who's that bore?' and go on with their conversation. Six people in a row will walk into a pub in England and say, `It's pouring with rain out there', whereas six Irish people will describe the weather in six completely different ways.

I once got into serious trouble at a national level in Ireland when I wrote a sketch about an Irishman who had been living for 46 years in Cricklewood, and, when asked what he most missed about Ireland he replied `Ah, the bit of insincerity'. So, if you want to be Irish - you must know the language." Aoife O'Riordain

Frank Kelly plays Father Jack in the Channel 4 series `Father Ted' and has just written `Twelve Days of Chaos' (The O'Brien Press)

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