Handshakes are important: A guide to Irish etiquette. Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Top ten differences to be aware of before you travel to Ireland


Handshakes are important: A guide to Irish etiquette. Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

First time travelers to Ireland may be apprehensive towards blending in with Irish culture, but fear not, as the Irish are very similar to Americans.

eDiplomat, a site for traveling US diplomats, has provided a breakdown of the most notable cultural differences to be aware of before heading for Ireland. Here, we’ve picked our top ten from that list.

The site describes the Irish as, “interested in people and place great value on the individual. They are naturally courteous, quick-witted and will go out of their way to welcome visitors to their country.”

It continues, “Don't rush the Irish. Although they work very hard, the Irish are dedicated to a less stressful lifestyle that allows time for friends and family, a visit to the pub, a cup of tea, or just a bit of a chat on the corner. Families are closely-knit and very important to the Irish.”

1. Handshakes are important

Handshakes are an important factor upon meeting new people - be it businesspeople, family or friends. A firm handshake with eye contact is expected.

2. ‘Irish Time’

The Irish tend to not be very time-conscious and may not be punctual for business and social meetings. They have a relaxed sense of time and may be a little late for meetings. However, a foreigner should be on time for business meetings.

3. Drinks etiquette

One of the most touchy subjects in Irish culture is the notion of “rounds” while out at a pub or bar drinking. Everyone is expected to buy a round of drinks for everyone else, and turning down a drink can sometimes be understood as insulting.

4. Your best behavior

The Irish respect and expect polite and reserved behavior, and find pretentious behavior to be very off-putting.

5. Leave the lovey-dovey at home

The Irish aren’t too comfortable with public displays of affection and aren’t too physically demonstrative.

6. Dress the part

Traditional Irish garb isn’t flashy and gravitates toward tweed and wool. And - surprise! - it rains a lot in Ireland, so bring a raincoat.

7. Gift-giving

If invited to someone’s home for a meal, bring a small gift as a token of your appreciation. Flowers, a bottle of wine or chocolates usually do the trick.

8. Mind the spuds

Small plates are sometimes offered alongside meal plates as a spot to discard potato peels. It’s considered polite to finish all the food you’re offered at a meal.

9. If on business in Ireland...

Planning and strategy usually come in the short term for the Irish, who aren’t keen on long term planning. Socially, the Irish may be perceived as easy going and amiable, but in business, they are astute and tenacious. Business propositions are often worked out in social settings, such as restaurants or golf courses.

10. In the event of trouble...

Irish people tend to remain calm and get creative in the face of crises.

Do you think these tips are correct? Is there anything else you'd advise? Let us know in the comment section. 

*Originally published in 2014


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