6 Irish references on Friends

From Guinness to Claddagh, here are 6 Irish references on Friends that we find amusing.

Friends is one of the most popular sitcoms in the history of television. Airing from 1994 to 2004 with a total of 10 series, Friends depicts the hilarious adventures of six pals—Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe—who spend quite a lot of time hanging out in a coffee shop called Central Perk in New York City.

While Friends is an American series with an American cast and setting, it was (and still is) a hit in Ireland. Its Irish fan base is so large, in fact, that Friends! The Musical Parody is coming to Dublin in May 2020 (get tickets here), and Cineworld in Dublin will be showing episodes starting in late 2019 to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary (get tickets here).

And if you’ve shopped at Penney’s (in the Republic) or Primark (in the North) in the past year or so, you’ve no doubt seen (and even bought some of) their Central Perk merchandise.

Because the show has so many Irish fans, we thought it would be fun to round up the show’s top nods to Ireland and the Irish. Here are six Irish references on Friends—a couple of which even die-hard fans might not have noticed before.

6. A very Irish symbol in “The One with Rachel’s Book”

The Claddagh symbol is one of 6 Irish references on Friends (the TV series)

Those who’ve watched a lot of Friends will have noticed the Magna Doodle hanging on Joey’s apartment door in many episodes. It bears random (and sometimes not so random) scribbles and drawings to be glimpsed in the background of scenes. The second episode in the seventh series displays a particularly Irish one.

In the final scene of this episode, while Joey is making fun of Rachel for reading a certain book, you will see on the Magna Doodle the image of a heart, a crown, and two hands. Indeed, it’s an image of a Claddagh ring.

Why is it there? We have no clue, but as this Celtic symbol represents love, loyalty, and friendship, it does seem fitting for a show about friends. 

5. A vintage poster in “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”

A vintage Guinness poster is one of 6 Irish references on Friends (the TV series)

Though this reference appears in more than one episode, it is especially visible in series five, episode 14—and it gives you a fun excuse to re-watch the moment when everyone finds out about Monica and Chandler’s relationship.

During the scenes taking place in Chandler and Joey’s apartment, if you take a look at the bathroom door, you’ll see hanging from it a vintage “My Goodness My Guinness” poster. We’re not sure which friend enjoys a pint of Guinness the most, but the presence of the poster suggests that at least someone does!

4. Chandler’s thoughts on Michael Flatley in “The One with the Embryos”

A reference to Michael Flatley is one of 6 Irish references on Friends (the TV series)

Arguably one of the best Irish references on Friends comes in series four, episode 12, when Rachel and Monica play a trivia game against Chandler and Joey, in order to find out who knows more about whom. Ross makes up the questions, the best of which might be: “According to Chandler, what phenomenon scares the bejesus out of him?”

Monica responds without hesitation: “Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance.” Yes, that’s right: Chandler is afraid of watching the man credited with basically reinventing traditional Irish dance in shows like Riverdance.

Joey, who was not aware of Chandler’s fear, expresses his bafflement: “The Irish jig guy?” And Chandler’s response is… Well, if you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll know it. And if not, you had better watch this episode ASAP!

3. Clichéd accents in “The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance”  

Monica fakes an Irish accent on the TV sitcom Friends

In series six, episode four, you may recall Ross faking an English accent during his lectures as a new professor. When Monica and Rachel stop by the university and discover his lecturing strategy, they decide to join in on the fun and speak to Ross’s colleagues in accents of their own.

Rachel mimics a sort of Indian accent, while Monica does an Irish one, mimicking a jig dance while uttering possibly the most stereotypically Irish line: “Top o’ the mornin’ to you, laddies.” Too bad no one in Ireland actually says that!

Later in the episode, we hear a fake Irish accent again, this time from Rachel as she prank-calls Ross to say: “This is Dr. McNeeley from the Fake Accent University. We’d like you to come on board with us full time.”

Though Ross doesn’t find this funny and it may not be the most authentic Irish accent, it certainly provokes a good chuckle from us.

2. Ross’s failed joke in “The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad”

Ross attempts to make an Irish joke to Paul, played by Bruce Willis

You may recall Ross’s controversial relationship with his much younger student, Elizabeth, during series six. You may also recall his hilariously tense interactions with Elizabeth’s protective father, Paul (played by Bruce Willis).

In episode 21, when Ross meets Paul, things don’t start off well and he is desperate to impress, so he turns to humour: “All right, a joke — lighten the mood. Two guys walk into a bar, and one of them is Irish.” Paul interrupts: “I’m Irish.” Ross responds: “And the Irish guy wins the joke!” He can’t be taking any chances.

1. Ross’s refreshing drink in “The One with Joey’s New Girlfriend”

A bottle of Harp Lager appears in "The One with Joey's New Girlfriend"

This nod to the Irish is one that even the most hardcore fans may not have noticed before. Don’t be too hard on yourself, though; it’s easy to miss. In series four, episode five, Ross can be seen sitting in Monica and Rachel’s kitchen with a bottle of Harp Lager on the table in front of him. Harp is an Irish lager originating in Dundalk in 1960.

And there you have them—the top six Irish references on Friends. There’s also that moment in season seven, episode 20, when we find out that Joey’s parents hate the Irish (as well as the post office), but we love the Irish here, so it didn’t quite make our list!

Now it may be time for another re-watch of the series. (Could we be any more obsessed?)

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