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What makes Belfast special: The craic

21/08/2018

Staff writer

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Add this catch-all phrase for fun, entertainment, gossip, news and good banter to your vocab, stat.

Belfast is a unique place for lots of reasons – great bars, fab restaurants, more arts and culture than you can shake a stick at… But what really sets us apart from other cities is our lively sense of humour and our cool, friendly vibe. It’s something we like to call, ‘the craic’.

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From Discover Northern Ireland/YouTube

Here, what’s the craic?

The term ‘craic’ (pronounced crack) is something you’ll hear bandied about in Belfast. But what is it? For years, people have tried to define the craic. Everyone knows, but no one really knows.

At its simplest ‘the craic’ typifies the fun and welcoming atmosphere of Northern Ireland. We don’t take life or ourselves too seriously here. We’ll find the fun in every situation and we greet everyone with a sunny smile. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been named the happiest place in the UK (ONS 2016).

Belfast Music GIF

From Discover Northern Ireland/YouTube

 

Visit Belfast Queen'S University Belfast GIF  

From Visit Belfast/YouTube

How do you use it?

There are countless ways to talk about and generate ‘the craic’. Here is just a snapshot:

Belfast Discovernorthernireland GIF

From Discover Northern Ireland/YouTube

1. Ask: ‘What’s the craic?’ or ‘Any craic?’

This is a friendly phrase you’ll hear used every day in Northern Ireland. Meet someone in the street and after oh, a micro-second, they’ll probably ask: “so what’s the craic?

In Belfast, being asked ‘any craic’ is a good thing. In general, it means: what’s happening with ya? / What’s been goin’ on? or anything happenin’?

2. As a pre-fix to any question.

It can be used as a catch-all question. For example: ‘Here, what’s the craic ? You goin’ to class this morning?’

3. As a term to positively describe an event.

For example: ‘I’m wrecked this morning, but it was some craic last night!’

4. To make plans.

For example, ‘What’s the craic tonight?’ is just another way of asking ‘What are your plans for tonight?’

5. Ask an excuse to do something.

'Just for the craic' is the best reason to do anything. 

Where can you find the craic?

You don’t have to look far in Belfast to find the craic. It’s on the street, in the bars and clubs – it’s everywhere. Here in Belfast we love a chat, almost as much as we love a good belly laugh, and the craic encompasses both. It’s a culture of sociability that sets us apart from other cities.

Belfast GIF

From Discover Northern Ireland/YouTube

#ownthecraic

You too can own the craic. One day, you’ll walk down the street and the words ‘what’s the craic?’ will fall out of your mouth. See it as a sign you’ve truly assimilated with the local culture.

Queen'S University Belfast GIF 

From Queen’s University/YouTube

The craic: A footnote

People have argued for years where the term the craic came from. Some say, craic is a Gaelic word, with no exact translation – the closest is ‘fun’. 'Crack' is also found in Scotland and northern England, apparently. In truth, it doesn’t really matter, only to say it’s as ubiquitous here as the green fields.

More reasons Belfast is unlike anywhere else.

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