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Cultural Dos and Donts in Ireland

Are you a foreigner living in Ireland? Are you planning your holiday or business trip to one of the friendliest countries in the world? Here is a compilation of useful tips on how to behave in order not to insult the Irish who will probably be the loveliest people you have ever met.

  1. Greeting: handshake

When meeting new people, a firm handshake with eye contact is expected. Sometimes a friendly greeting is enough. Save kisses for closer friends and relatives.

  1. Meeting people: conversation

Irish people happily chat with strangers while waiting for a bus, queuing or travelling. One of the safest topic is certainly the weather. However, try to avoid criticising Ireland and Irish culture; the locals do not appreciate it from the outsiders. People willingly smile or nod when passing a stranger on the street; they can also say “hello” or “nice day”. This is not an attempt to start a conversation, you should just return the greeting.

  1. Pub culture

The pub is more than just a place to have a drink in Ireland, it is a very important meeting place and very much engrained in the culture along with the idea of the “craic”. The most important thing to know is the system of rounds. It is recommended to offer to buy drinks to everyone else in your company as soon as possible so that you do not miss your turn. One of the most insulting comment from an Irish person is that somebody never stands his or her round. You should also be careful when turning down a drink as it can also be considered insulting by some.

  1. Time

The Irish tend to be more relaxed as far as time is concerned. They may not be punctual for business or social meetings. Even though they are a very hard-working nation, they do not like to rush and value their personal life and spending time with family and friends.

  1. Your behaviour

Do not display too much affection publicly – the Irish are not very comfortable with that. They may be very warm and welcoming but they expect polite behaviour from you at the same time. Keep the initial meetings low-key.

  1. Tipping

It is not as common in Ireland as in many other Western countries. Many restaurants apply a service charge so there is no need to tip there. If the service is good, a 10-15% tip will be acceptable. However, waiters in Ireland do not depend on tips for their income. Tipping in pubs is even less common, if you leave a tip on the counter, the bartender will assume you forgot your change and will try to return it to you. If you really feel like giving a tip to the bar staff, you should hand over a few euros and say i.e. “Have one for yourself later”. As a result, you are not giving a tip but buying a drink in advance, which is acceptable.

  1. Give up the stereotypes

Do not ask Irish people if they have ever seen leprechauns. Unless you really want to make your new friends annoyed from the very start.

Good luck!

Author: Magdalena Piskor

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