Correct me if I'm wrong
You are :) As Roz pointed out Fitz simply means 'son'. It derives from the French 'fils'. And as she says Fitzroy is a name for a royal bastard son, the 'roy' deriving from the French 'roi' meaning king. Irish names are quite complicated really, especially the feminine forms.
For unmarried women, the Irish patronym Mc (Irish word for son is 'mac') also has a feminine form 'Nic' (daughter)which is rarely used nowadays but you do come across it from time to time. Most women simply use the Mc form though some Irish speakers prefer to use the traditional feminine form. Then there's Ní also meaning daughter of. It's a corruption of Iníon Uí meaning daughter of.
It was the custom in the Irish education system to use the Irish forms of names and we always addressed our unmarried teachers as Iníon Uí......... for example Miss Ryan would be addressed as Iníon Uí Rian. Married women are Bean (pronounced ban) literally meaning 'woman of '. Some of the older teaches still like to use the Irish forms, especially the ones who are very keen Irish speakers.
The childrens' names also are written in their Irish form in the school registers and the roll is called in the mornings using the Irish forms. Although I have a very old Saxon surname (there's not many of us in Ireland despite what Sussexguy thinks!) it was ruthlessly Gaelicized, a Ní was stuck in front of it and the actual name was altered to try to make it sound more Irish! I remember the dilemma we had when the 'new Irish' as we now call them began arriving from Poland amongst other places as there was simply no way to give an Irish form to the surnames so they went into the register in their original forms.
it is convenient for some authorities to keep English language where it is in Ireland.
Succesive governments have tried very hard to promote the Irish language and it is the official language of the country. However at this stage Irish will never be our first language again and to be honest it was a good thing for us that we adopted English.It was having English as our first language that allowed Irish emigrants to prosper to the extent that they did in places like America and Australia. It's what allows us to operate globally in business and so on.
The problem lies with they way Irish is taught within the education system. You know how hard it is to become fluent in a second language and that's basically what Irish is for Irish people. If the teaching methods are bad, then people don't learn effectively. At primary school level the Irish teaching is very good and the children really love Irish but once they reach secondary, it falls into the trap of way too much written work, formal grammar, boring texts to read etc. The kids simply lose interest and as the language becomes more advanced, it's more difficult, they're not making progress, they stop trying, you know what I mean. The summer colleges run in the Gaeltacht (native Irish speaking parts of Ireland)do a brilliant job of total immersion and the kids love it. Did you watch that clip of Coláiste Lurgan? It helps of course that the Irish are musical people so they can learn to sing this way in two weeks. I think it's great the way they take dance music or whatever, translate the lyrics to Irish and incorporate the Irish instruments like the fiddle and 'box' the melodeon. The video of 'Wake Me Up' sung in Irish is great stuff.
I know that Poland has much more culture than just 'folk' culture but to me there's two problems, one is that Polish folk culture is very regional. It belongs to the people of those regions but I don't think the nation as a whole really 'feel's that culture. It's something separate, to be observed or watched as a spectacle. For example Polish folk dancing is beautiful and so colourful with the magnificent costumes and you know you're watching living history, but, these dances are 'performed' if you get my meaning and you're not going to walk into a pub or a house and see people in their t-shirt and jeans get up and do those dances. Whereas in many parts of Ireland (where my own sister lives for example) this kind of thing still goes on regularly in people's homes. And it's cross generational. A child of seven will be playing the fiddle alongside a neighbour who's in his seventies. Now I'm sure that's how it was in Poland a hundred years ago, or perhaps not? Did people only dance and sing at festival times, dressed in their special costumes? Or did they dance every Saturday night as they did in Ireland? Could someone answer that question maybe?
I have never heard anything about Irish food or meat being any good
Irish cuisine as such isn't the most exciting although it has improved greatly in the last twenty or thirty years. Certain traditional Irish dishes are delicious but the range is limited, nothing like the variety of Poland. The main reason for this again is historical. As a small island, we didn't have the influence of the bordering countries to east and west that formed Polish cuisine, as an English colonly our cuisine was influenced greatly by England but for the majority of people it was influenced more by extreme poverty. To give you an example Jonathan Swift wrote in 1720 about 'the miserable dress and diet and dwelling of the people' and how they were charged such enormous rents by their English landlords, that they were reduced to 'living in filth and nastiness, on a diet of buttermilk and potatoes without a shoe or stocking to their feet or a house so convenient as an English hog-sty to receive them'. Jonathan was of course an Anglo-Irish man and one of many such who saw the evils done by his own people and sought to draw attention to them and to right those wrongs. Indeed, after the departure of the last great Gaelic chieftains into exile, it was ironically, the Anglo-Irish middle classes who championed the cause of the poorest native Irish and led the fight for Irish freedom.
Anyway having said that, Ireland despite being so tiny, is one of the main producers of beef in the world, ranks in the top five. As for quality, as I said the cattle are fed entirely on natural pastures. They are hardly ever brought indoors because the climate is so mild and for the few weeks of the year that they are brought in, they're fed on natural silage harvested by the farmer from his own pastures. They are not given hormones in their feed or antibiotics. Every piece of beef you buy in Ireland is traceable (it's written on the pack you buy) back to the farm and the herd that it came from. Ireland has one of the best food safety records in the world. Our dairy products too are exported worldwide, even to China, because the quality is so high.
I've actually lived on a sheep farm (was renting a cottage there) so I've seen how the animals are kept and how well they're treated. I've seen the lambs in spring, I've seen the sheep being shorn outdoors in the fields in the summer. Three generations of the farmer's family would be there, really lovely to watch. Also there were cows in pasture across the road. They basically have a stress-free existence, fresh air, green grass, lots of space. Totally organic lifestyle, not crowded into sheds and pens.
But our public transport system is abysmal. That'll bring you some comfort I'm sure!