An Irish Goodbye: the REAL meaning explained

Ever wondered what is meant by an Irish goodbye? Well here is everything you didn’t know and what you need to know.

The term ‘an Irish Goodbye’ may be something you are or are not familiar with. Still, it Is something that will most likely make sense to you by the time you finish reading this article.

An Irish goodbye is something so unique to Ireland, and the Irish people, that you may even be privy to it yourself, or have witnessed it, without noticing.

The Irish have always been known for their hospitality, especially their welcomes, which can last for hours and involve a person or family really going out of their way to make you feel comfortable on arrival.

We love our pub life, but don't want to be hassled with the malarkey of goodbyes.

We’ve all probably experienced this whether we’ve grown up in Ireland, have family in Ireland, or have visited Ireland as a tourist, because no matter the situation, an Irish welcome is almost always guaranteed.

When it comes to goodbyes, however, you may be surprised to learn that the Irish way of saying goodbye, is quite the opposite, non-existent in fact. We are about to get to the bottom of this, and open your eyes to the whole meaning behind this ritual, or lack of.

Here is everything you didn’t know about the Irish Goodbye and what you need to know.

Ireland Before You Die’s quickfire facts about the Irish goodbye

  • While there is no certain origin of the saying “Irish Goodbye”, it may have originated due to the stereotype that Irish people prefer a quiet departure. 
  • It isn’t just Ireland that has its version of an “Irish Goodbye”! For example, it is also called the “French Exit” elsewhere. 
  • The reason for going with the “Irish Goodbye” is often because people want to avoid lengthy goodbyes or are socially awkward and want to skip the farewells. 
  • Ultimately, it is a fantastic time-saving tactic! You can slip away without saying goodbye to all there. 
  • It is also important to bear in mind it isn’t always intentional! Some people may not have realised they have left the spot without saying goodbye to people.

So what is an Irish goodbye?

An Irish Goodbye is about the social implications of leaving an event early.

Like many things in this world, it’s hard to know the exact origin of the Irish Goodbye. Still, it’s undeniable that it exists in Ireland and even in some parts of the world to this day.

Ever been to an event and when you arrive you are introduced to everyone or reunited with old friends, a process which seems to go on for ages, in the nicest possible way, only to notice that at the end of the event, some of these people have just up and left without so much as a goodbye or a see you later?

You’ve witnessed an Irish Goodbye! This is the act of leaving a party, or any social gathering, without so much as a goodbye, but rather a quick dart out the door.

An Irish Goodbye consists of leaving without saying goodbye.

It may seem normal to many people, and that’s because it is, for us, but let’s explain it a bit further. You see, in Ireland, because the welcoming process is such a long-winded affair, we can almost imagine that saying goodbye would lead to this same series of events.

In essence, this could involve hours of making your way around each individual and saying farewell, something which is just inevitable. You see, if we choose to do this at the end of a social gathering, and taking into consideration how much Irish like to speak, we may never actually leave the event at all.

So it takes the unnecessary ‘faffing’ about, out of the equation and it means you can just leave. We’ve all probably done it or experienced it and never even realised this was known as an Irish Goodbye, but it makes sense, doesn’t it?

FOR MORE Irish sayings and phrases, you may enjoy Ireland Before You Die’s article on the top 20 IRISH PROVERBS + meanings

It’s not rude, we promise

It's not rude to do an Irish Goodbye, we promise.
Credit: Instagram / @theplusonesglobal

This way of saying goodbye can also be termed ‘ghosting’, because, well, that’s essentially what is happening. Some may see it as poor etiquette and impolite, but we just see it as an easy way out, of what could potentially be a long-winded goodbye montage, and who has time for that?

In retrospect, it might seem unfathomable, that an Irish Goodbye is actually, incredible considerate, but it is, and here’s how.

READ MORE: Here are some more Irish traditions that the rest of the world might find weird

In defense of the Irish goodbye

In defense of an Irish Goodbye, it's actually very polite.

Can you imagine if each person went through the rigmarole of saying goodbye at a party or the pub? It would add hours onto each of their journeys home, or maybe they wouldn’t even make it home.

This way of having a clean cut saves you all of this time and, to be honest, you have had your fair share of mingling, catching up, and enjoying the company of others the entire night anyway, so no one is missing out on anything.

So now you see, an Irish goodbye is a fundamental part of ‘Irishness’, whether you knew it or not, and no it doesn’t always relate to being really drunk and escaping the party before anyone realised you are, it can relate to almost any situation.

So next time you attend an event, enjoy the welcome, enjoy the time with friends, but don’t be afraid to leg it when you feel it’s time to hit the hay, no one will be offended. Just don’t forget to let someone know you’ve made it home safe!

Your questions answered about the Irish goodbye

Here, we have put paid to any further queries you may have about the Irish goodbye with our compilation of the most frequently asked questions about this topic from our readers and online.

What is the story behind the Irish goodbye?

Some say that the Irish Goodbye is a negative stereotype that Irish people are over-imbibing, meaning they to do so avoid showing how drunk they are, for example.

What does the slang term Irish goodbye mean?

However, this is not the case! It simply means slipping away quietly and unnoticed, to save time and avoid having to say goodbye to everyone.

What is the premise of the Irish goodbye?

The movie the Irish Goodbye is premised on Turlough McCaffrey moving back to Ireland with his brother who suffers from Down’s Syndrome following the death of their mother.

What is a Polish exit?

A Polish exit is the same as an Irish Goodbye, as in to leave without saying goodbye to the host. It is known as a Polish exist in Germany.

NEXT: On the contrary, do you know of the famous Irish welcome? Read more with IB4UD’s article on Slainté: meaning, pronunciation and when to say it

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