The Emerald Isle is a place steeped in old-world superstitions. If you have any ties to Ireland, you’re sure to know a few of these superstitions that have stood the test of time.
We have many old wives’ tales in Ireland that we still adhere to without even thinking about it. So many that we often forget that the rest of the world might find some a bit strange.
Whether you’re from Ireland or have Irish heritage, you’re bound to recognise many of these crazy Irish superstitions.
Keep reading to discover some of the Irish superstitions in Irish culture that the world might find weird.
10. No shoes on the table − new shoes, all shoes
While some of us grew up learning that it is bad luck to put a pair of new shoes on the table, others have learned that it is bad luck to put any shoes on the table at all.
We’re not going to take any risks with this one. It may be safer to not put any shoes on the table at all, regardless of their age.
9. Magpies − one for sorrow, two for joy
Three for a girl, four for a boy. The Irish are very superstitious when it comes to magpies, believing that seeing one lone magpie is a bad omen.
There is a trick to stopping this bad omen, however. The trick is to be respectful and greet the magpie with a cheerful, “Hello, Mr Magpie!”.
Some people throw in a small salute. With that, your happiness will be safe for another day.
8. Itchy nose − an impending argument
We’re sorry about this one, considering it’s flu season. This superstition says that if you have an itchy nose, you will have an argument with someone close.
This is one of those Irish superstitions you should try to avoid at all costs.
7. A knife to the floor − a man to the door
If you accidentally drop a knife on the ground, don’t despair! It means you should be expecting a gentleman visitor very soon. Anyone looking for a future husband, take note.
6. Umbrellas − never open them inside
It is practically considered a sin to open an umbrella indoors in Ireland, as it is thought to bring bad weather.
We want to request whoever is constantly causing the rain in Ireland to PLEASE stop opening their umbrella before stepping outside!
5. Ladders − never walk under them
Irish superstitions say you should never walk under a ladder, should you meet one on the path. It is said to bring bad luck.
It’s also common sense, as anything could fall off one as you’re walking under. We’ll take our chances on the other side of the road, thanks.
4. Fairy trees − sacred ground of the fairy folk
Fairy trees are generally found in fields with big stones surrounding them. Farmers prefer to leave these trees where they are so as not to disturb the fairy folk who are said to dwell beneath them.
Anyone who bothers these trees is said to be cursed with terrible misfortune for the rest of their lives.
3. Washing water − don’t throw it out the front door
Many moons ago, Irish people would have said that it was bad luck to throw your dirty laundry water out your front door.
The reason for this was because you might anger the leprechauns, who were thought to stroll around invisible.
As they were not seen to the human eye, it was best to be careful in how you dispose of your wastewater in case you get them wet. Nobody wants an angry wet leprechaun knocking at their door.
2. Cows − can predict the weather
The old Irish traditions say that the rain will soon be along if you see a field of cows sitting down.
Next time you pass many cows sitting down, we’d advise you to go home and get an umbrella.
1. Baking bread − put a cross on your loaf
Superstition advises the baker to mark a cross into the loaf before baking bread in the oven. The cross is to supposedly let the devil out of the bread, making it safe to eat.
This has to be one of the most peculiar Irish superstitions!
How many superstitions do you believe or follow?
Other notable mentions
Forks and spoons on the floor: Much like the gentleman at the door if you drop a knife, the other cutlery in your drawer comes with superstitions too. If you drop a fork, you’ll have a female visitor, a spoon, a child visitor.
Red-haired woman: Another one of these crazy superstitions is that if you meet a red-haired woman at the door, you’re going to have a bad day.
Luck penny: Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck! Everyone in Ireland knows this one. If you pick up your lucky penny and pass it on to a friend, then your luck will never end.
Bird poop: If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being pooped on by a bird, don’t fret! According to Irish superstition, when bird poo lands on people, it’s actually good luck!
FAQs about Irish superstitions
What is considered good luck in Ireland?
Perhaps the most famous Irish good luck charm, the shamrock is known for its St. Patrick connection.
Why do superstitions live on?
Despite evidence proving the contrary, Irish people have it ingrained in them to respect these old-wives tales!
Is the luck of the Irish good or bad luck?
At its roots, the luck of the Irish has an ironic twist in that it may not mean luck at all; rather, it refers to our bad luck! Irish people are typically known to be very unlucky.