As long as you don’t greet them with “top of the morning” (for those who don’t know, this phrase is Hollywood Irish; no real Irish person uses it), the Irish are generally laid-back, and visitors will get along just fine by adhering to general standards of etiquette and using common sense. But if you want your trip to Ireland to go as smoothly as possible, there are a few things you should avoid doing.
Specify that it is part of the British Isles.
This is arguably the biggest faux pas you can make when speaking with an Irish individual. Although 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties officially became a republic nearly 70 years ago – and had been designated an independent state for nearly 30 years prior to that – the entire country is still sometimes erroneously referred to as a part of the United Kingdom, which its citizens find extremely offensive. (Only Northern Ireland’s six counties remain united with the United Kingdom.) The government of the Republic of Ireland does not recognize the term ‘the British Isles’ as valid. You should instead say “Britain and Ireland.”
Be generally insensitive to the nation’s troubled past.
In a similar vein, many travel guides for Ireland advise visitors to avoid discussing religion and politics. In the south of the United States, however, if you strike up a conversation with a local and want to ask about either of these topics, most people will be happy to do so as long as you are sensitive and polite. In Northern Ireland, where the shadow of the Troubles still looms and the issue is much more divisive and raw, it is best to ask your questions about the conflict to a dedicated tour guide.
In the mid-2000s, Ireland became the first nation in the world to prohibit smoking in enclosed workplaces. This law prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, clubs, public buildings, taxis, and any other location considered an enclosed workplace. In addition to being impolite, smoking in one of these locations could result in a fine of up to €3,000. In January 2016, it became illegal to smoke in vehicles with children present.
Degrading the Irish language
Aside from a few rural Gaeltacht communities, Irish is not spoken daily in Ireland, and there are many people who, despite having studied the language throughout their schooling, cannot hold a conversation in Irish (in Irish). However, it is still the country’s national and first official language, and a significant part of its cultural heritage. If you decide to use some Irish on your trip, it won’t be held against you if you butcher the pronunciation, but it will be a pleasant surprise if you don’t, as in President Obama’s 2011 “yes we can” (is féidir linn) speech in Dublin. Notable also is that locals refer to the language as “Irish” and not “Gaelic.”
Fail to get a round in
As in Britain and some of its other former colonies, Irish people tend to drink in “rounds” when out with a group, and the custom has its own rules. For those unfamiliar, this means that one person goes to the bar and purchases drinks for the entire group. When this round is nearly finished, the next person purchases another, and this continues throughout the evening in the same order. Each member of the group must purchase a round of drinks for the entire group; otherwise, it is considered rude. An additional note on drinking in Ireland: it’s not customary to tip the person behind the bar.
Comment on the weather.
People within the country frequently complain about Ireland’s infamously wet and unpredictable climate, but this is one of those situations, like with family, where the Irish can complain but outsiders should not. Like most countries, the Irish, in general, have a strong sense of national pride. Even if they do it first, complaining to a local about any aspect of the culture is unlikely to be well received.
Obsess over leprechauns.
The modern conception of the leprechaun has more negative than positive connotations, most of which are derived from offensive 19th-century stereotypes of the Irish. The leprechaun has no connection to pre-Christian Irish mythology and has become little more than a souvenir-selling gimmick. Tourists who wear leprechaun hats and visit the inexplicably still-functioning National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin will not be bothered, but they will be suspected of lacking a genuine appreciation for Irish culture.
Call it “Saint Patrick’s Day.”
Again, this is not the end of the world, but many Irish find it extremely annoying when St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s national holiday, is abbreviated to ‘St. Patty’s Day’ Paddy is the correct diminutive form of the name Patrick; therefore, “Paddy’s Day” is the correct abbreviation for this holiday.
Inappropriate use of the word’sorry’
The Irish are renowned for being quick to apologize, and the majority will typically apologize if they accidentally bump into you, get in your way, or otherwise annoy you. However, sometimes the word “sorry” is substituted for “excuse me” in order to get someone’s attention. In this instance, their tone will suggest a question.
Disapprove of swearing
If you are offended by casual profanity, Ireland may not be the best vacation destination for you. It is a generally accepted fact that the Irish use profanity frequently in everyday conversations, even when they are not angry. Tommy Tiernan, an occasionally controversial Irish comedian, attributes this phenomenon to the Irish being forced to adopt the English language against their will, stating, “The English language doesn’t suit my soul… It’s like there’s a brick wall between us, and “fuck” is my chisel.
Stay on the established path
The Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and Galway city are frequently near the top of the list of world-famous attractions that tourists visiting Ireland wish to see. As a result, despite the undeniable allure of these locations, many individuals miss out on equally alluring but lesser-known (and less crowded) locations. The Irish will appreciate those who are familiar with lesser-known sites such as Donegal’s Slieve League Cliffs, the Beara Peninsula, and County Antrim’s Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
Eat only in pubs
Although Irish pubs are excellent places to sample traditional dishes such as Irish stew, you shouldn’t limit your dining options to bars. The country produces some of the best meat and dairy products in the world, and it’s worth splurging on at least one expensive meal to understand why Irish cuisine shouldn’t be underrated. Check out this list of the finest restaurants in Ireland for inspiration.
Disregard manners on the road.
If you choose to tour Ireland by car, you must be aware that driving in rural areas is morally hazardous. In some instances, Irish country roads can be so narrow that a driver must pull into a gateway or ditch to allow an oncoming vehicle to safely pass. It’s also common for drivers in rural areas to salute each other with one index finger, sometimes even if they don’t know each other, and Irish drivers will frequently turn on their hazard lights and wave in the rearview mirror to express gratitude if you pull over to let them pass.
Topic: 13 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Ireland
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