10 Irish customs you should know before visiting Ireland

All countries have customs but Ireland has quite the number, many of which you should know before visiting.

Ireland is an island country located in Europe. With a population of only 6.6 million, it is small in size but packs quite a punch.

The country is synonymous with traditional Irish music, pub culture, rolling green pastures, and creamy cold pints of Guinness. But what is also inherently Irish, are its common customs.

All places have customs. They are inextricably interconnected with aspects of society, imposed onto its residents from a young age.

For all of you planning a trip to the Emerald Isle soon, here are 10 Irish customs you should know before visiting Ireland.

10. Not taking a compliment – as humble as steak and Guinness pie

One of our top 10 Irish customs you should know before visiting Ireland is that us Irish cannot take a compliment.

The Irish are a modest bunch. What this translates into is a hell of a lot of people who can’t take a compliment!

Give it a try and you’re likely to hear every awkward statement under the sun, somehow redirecting the compliment in any direction other than onto themself.

9. The superstition surrounding magpies – nobody wants bad luck

Magpies and the mis/fortune they bring all come from superstitions us Irish hold, a definite Irish custom you need to know before visiting Ireland.

The Irish are wildly superstitious. A childhood rhyme sang upon seeing a magpie(s), goes “one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told”.

The concept is that by saluting a magpie, you can “undo” the fortune you were facing upon seeing whatever amount of magpies.

8. Getting seriously dressed up at Halloween – we really commit

Halloween started in Ireland which makes sense why we love dressing up so much for it, it's one of the top 10 Irish customs you need to know before visiting Ireland.

The Irish love Halloween; like seriously love Halloween! Expect for people to be out en masse on the spookiest night of the year. Costumes are considered compulsory by your comrades.

7. The itchy-nose effect – we’ve got a sixth sense for conflict

Getting an itchy nose to us Irish means that an argument is imminent, one of the stranger 10 Irish customs you need to know before visiting Ireland.

Another Irish superstition you should know before visiting Ireland is that many Irish people think an itchy nose is the sign of an impending argument.

Most of the time, this looming fight is prevented by being slapped on the back of the hand. By doing this, it is believed that the potential fight can be avoided.

6. The Late Late Toy Show at Christmas – it’s a Christmas tradition

We're all kids again when watching the Late Late Toy Show every Christmas, an Irish custom you need to know before visiting Ireland.

Every Christmas, an average of 1.3 million people tune in to watch the Late Late Toy Show Christmas special on RTÉ live. That’s not even counting those who watch it on re-run, stream, or record it!

This Christmas TV special has been running since 1975 and has become synonymous with Christmas spirit.

It showcases the most coveted and coolest toys for kids that year. It hosts tonnes of child participants, entertainment, and performances, so it doesn’t matter if you’re eight or 80 – watching this is a real Irish custom.

5. Rounds of pints – sharing is caring

We all share the duty if drinks-provider, buying drinks in rounds, a polite Irish custom you need to know before visiting Ireland.

One aspect of Irish culture is how we consume pints of alcohol: the Irish drink pints by rounds.

It’s is a system of consuming alcohol imposed in groups of friends. One person starts by purchasing a pint for everyone in the group; after they have finished that “round”, another person buys everyone in the group a drink. This process continues until everyone has purchased one round. 

4. Saying “sorry” – our mammies taught us well

Us Irish are polite folk and we always say "sorry" in lieu of saying "excuse me".

In Ireland, people use the word “sorry” instead of “excuse me”.

For example, if you’re walking on a busy city street and are bumping into other people passing by, you use “sorry”. The Irish are pretty polite, so you’ll hear it a lot.

3. Selection boxes at Christmas – who doesn’t want boxes of chocolate?

At Christmas time it's guaranteed that you'll receive a selection box of chocolates from one of your relatives.

A popular Irish custom is to give a selection box (a term for a box of assorted chocolate bars) to a loved one at Christmas.

Kids, in particular, receive a tonne of these around the festive seasons, but truthfully, this Irish custom has no age limit.

2. Saying “thanks” to the bus driver – they deserve it!

Us Irish are well-mannered and say thank you to the bus driver when getting off the bus.

As mentioned earlier, the Irish are polite people and one proper Irish custom is always to greet and, more so, thank the bus driver.

It’s nice to be friendly and kindness is generally responded to well; so, hop on board!

1. ALWAYS offering a cup of tea – it’d be rude not to

We may have tea-addictions but we can't help but offer visitors to our homes a cup of tea. It's only polite.

If there’s one Irish custom you should know before visiting Ireland, it is that Irish people always offer guests visiting their home a cup of tea (or even a few).

It’s seen as a sign of welcome. And it’s pretty safe to say, if you’re not a tea fan pre-visit to Ireland, you’re sure going to be once you leave. 

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Paris Donnatella is an avid writer and traveller. From a young age, nomadic parents placed a strong emphasis on education in real experience and the outdoors - a trait which has carried through her life and into her career. She has travelled Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Australia and still claims that wanderlust tempts her daily. Saying that she believes Ireland - her homeland - is the most enchanting place she has ever been and is passionate about documenting the Emerald Isle. Chances are, you can find her drinking coffee in some hidden gem cafe in Dublin, planning her next big trip.