It is March 17, 2016, and Stef and I are in the smoking area of 'The Blarney Stone', a pub in Vancouver that is Irish in the same way that Domino's Pizza is Italian.
There are over a dozen eight-seater tables in the smoking area, all overflowing with Paddy's Day revellers.
Irish-American rock blasts out of the speakers; the type of faux-Irish songs that have no problem referencing leprechauns or lucky charms.
We arrive alone but as the smoking area becomes something of a melting pot, we are soon taken in by a larger group.
Our adopted family are actually related by blood and not just alcohol-induced friendliness; there are brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, all dressed head-to-toe in green with fake red beards and Paddy caps.
The focal point of the group is a musclebound man who looks like he'd just stepped off the set of.
We inform the group that we are Irish and they tell us something similar. As the conversation progresses, Braveheart asks if we'd ever been there.
They look at us with awe and ask questions that make it seem like we had achieved something at birth.
Braveheart feels a little phoney in our presence, I can tell.
When North Americans discover your Irishness, there are one of two routes you can take: You can be dismissive and tell them that Ireland is much more modern and refined now, or, you can Paddy it up, inferring that you know everyone by name and that you're a distant relative of Mr Tayto.
Most of us, if we are honest, take the latter route. Even the most sophisticated Irish person has been known, upon being unmasked as the token Paddy of the group, to start speaking with a Michael Flatley twang and become a bit too overzealous with the word "yera".
We just can’t help ourselves; it’s part of the condition of coming from a tiny, mad place.
There was a time when I believed the 'Ireland is now cosmopolitan' yarn, but my eyes were opened when I brought Stef home for the first time.
Stef is a city girl and although I told her that I was from the country, I assured her that it wasn't really the country.
The farmland was much more vast than I remembered. So much so that I was tempted to use the opposite of the cliché and declare that 'there used to be less fields'.
Every time Stef pointed out a house, pub, or landmark, I gave her some little story or scandal that occurred there.
Each tale was peppered with nicknames that demanded a backstory of their own. I stopped talking when I started sounding like Darby O'Gill.
Over the years I've come to realise that we are all country bumpkins, the city folk are just less so.
The entire country is just one overgrown parish; this tiny, mad place.
The nicknames, the inability to take ourselves too seriously, the chaotic mixture that exists within us which combines unmerciful begrudgery with immense pride in our own.
I'm constantly on the lookout for examples that prove my hypothesis. There are macro examples — like that time Thierry Henry knocked Ireland out of the World Cup and legions enacted their revenge on their poor little 'Henry' vacuum cleaners.
There are micro examples too — I remember a family gathering we had in South Kerry. I ordered two whiskeys and while I was chatting to my brother, the bartender accidentally drank both of them, claiming that he'd confused our drinks for his own.
Then there was a postcard I sent my friend Donncha in May that took off in the most Irish of ways. It started with a harmless text. Donncha mentioned that a letter had arrived from America to his home in Waterville with only his name, a street name and 'Ireland' on it.
I was baffled by this and decided to raise the stakes. Unbeknownst to him I sent a card with only his name and 'South Ireland' on it. I also added a message that was more like a riddle than an address.
An Post, the renowned masters of hide and seek, delivered the scantily clad letter without fuss. But that was only the beginning. It then snowballed in a way that's only possible in our overgrown parish.
On the Friday Donncha posted a photo of the postcard on Twitter, which promptly went viral. The image was shared across Ireland, the UK, Australia and America.
Dozens came out of the woodwork to share their magical stories of our national postal service. One woman shared a photo of an envelope that had made it from one end of the country to the other with only the words 'Ann + Jimmy' on it.
There were countless other similar stories all shared with a massive sense of pride in our national postal service.
Upon hearing the news that Waterville had a statue erected to Charlie Chaplin, one American asked a valid question; "So, let me get this straight. Charlie Chaplin went on holiday there and now there's a statue dedicated to him?". If he only knew about Barack Obama Plaza.
By Monday morning Donncha had been contacted by a handful of media outlets all vying for his story. By the afternoon, he had been contacted by one primetime national radio show. One journalist even landed at his door in Waterville.
He shied away, knowing that whatever story he told couldn't compete with people's imagination. Many had decided that this mysterious letter had a much more romantic backstory — a modern Cinderella tale.
"My idiot friend sent it to me" didn't have the same mystique.
The most Irish of turns came when a member of the local tourist board arrived at his door. They claimed that the letter was the best thing to happen to the village in years.
They had already concocted a miniature media tour where Donncha became a local ambassador, sharing his story nationwide. Again, revealing that "my idiot friend sent it to me" would have put an end to the media frenzy.
On Friday, we watched the TV in confusion as Billy Keane dedicated his segment onon RTÉ to the mysterious letter.
Rather predictably, the low-level fame led to some hate, begrudgery, and conspiracy theorising. Many took to Twitter to tell us that it wasn't a big deal (it wasn't).
Others questioned the timing — Donncha's triumphant good news story had emerged in the same week that An Post had raised the price of stamps.
Some decided that Donncha was actually an undercover An Post operative, masquerading as a simple letter recipient.
I'm sure others even questioned his existence full stop. We braced ourselves for the backlash and the inevitable true crime podcast.
The following week, it all subsided. The whirlwind had lasted approximately 140 hours.
To close out the whole episode, Donncha sent me a card of his own. It wasn't a follow-up test for An Post.
The envelope had the full address, free from ambiguities. It was just a simple card with a simple message, thanking me for the post he received.
That letter didn't arrive for over two weeks. And even then it was delivered to a public building nearby. That's another thing about the Irish.
We're nothing if not utterly inconsistent.
- Ben Dillon is a content marketing consultant and personal essay writer from Kerry