The coming days are filled with possibilities for putting my foot in it.
Sitting at a dinner in Dublin last year, there were jokes flying around about various Irish counties.
“Back in the 1980s, ” I said, “there was a lack of psychiatric accommodation in Ireland and there were two options: the first was to extend the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, the second was to put a roof over Manorhamilton.”
A softly spoken gentleman in a plain grey suit, who sat opposite me, smiled and said, “My wife is from Manorhamilton.”
It got worse though.
As the after dinner speeches began, the chairman went to the microphone and said, “I’d like to welcome a very special guest this evening, the former chief of staff of the defence forces. Lieutenant General, perhaps you would like to say a few words”.
The softly spoken gentleman in the plain grey suit stood up.
Two lessons were learned:
(i) It’s better to keep quiet and let people think you a fool than to speak and to let them know you are;
(ii) Never, ever make fun of Co Leitrim.