This is something I've been wondering about since I was a kid. In Looney Tunes and other older cartoons (and some silent shorts I've seen) Irish men are usually depicted holding long white pipes that they smoke while holding them upside down. That is, the part with the hole where the tobacco sits is pointing down towards the ground.
What's the deal with that? According to my mom, this odd habit was real. Her theory is that back when matches were expensive, you couldn't waste them on relighting a pipe. So, in a rainstorm, you turned the pipe upside down. And, since it's generally always raining in Ireland, they just kept doing it that way.
Now I know Ireland is wet and all, but wouldn't the high likelihood of having burning tobacco falling out onto your lower extremities justify the purchase of a couple of extra matches? Is the upside-down pipe a symbol for something? Some kind of leftover "those Irish are so dumb" racist reference? Or is mom (eek) right?