10 TRADITIONS and ETIQUETTE of Irish pub culture

Heading out for a pint in Ireland? Avoid sidelong looks and shakes of the head with this handy guide.

10 TRADITIONS and ETIQUETTE of Irish pub culture.

The pub is a keystone of Irish community. It’s a meeting place: a place where people come together in times of celebration and strife.

With such an important institution, there inevitably come some unwritten rules that must be followed.

We have, therefore, outlined ten traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture for you to use and look out for on your next trip to the pub.

10. Dress code – no need to get dressed up

Dress code is one of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

It makes sense to get this out of the way first, doesn’t it? After all, it’s something you need to know BEFORE you get to the pub.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live nearby, of course. The dress code for the Irish pub is pretty loose: you can get away with most outfits.

While some people may like to dress up a little – especially at the weekends – it’s not a necessity. Jeans, a T-shirt, and some casual shoes are perfectly acceptable in most Irish pubs.

9. Ask before taking a seat – be polite

Ask before taking a seat.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Tourism Northern Ireland

This is a situation you’ll inevitably have to face if you go to the pub with a large group. More often than not, members of the group will be left without a seat.

Worry not, though: it’s perfectly normal in the etiquette of Irish pub culture to take a seat from a nearby table or even sit down at an occupied adjacent table.

Just be polite and ask nicely, and most Irish punters will oblige. They might even buy you a pint!

8. Tipping – never expected, always appreciated

Tipping is one of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture.

Unlike other places in the Western world, like the United States, tipping is not expected in Irish pubs. However, bar staff will always greatly appreciate a tip and will tend to look after a generous tipper with quick service.

You’ll hear regulars telling bar staff to “take one” for themselves. When pints were cheaper, this “one for yourself” would have equated to the price of a pint.

Nowadays, the amount lies at the discretion of the bar staff, with many taking half the price.

7. Coaster on the pint – just popped out

The coaster on the pint.

If you see a table unattended or a free space at the bar, keep an eye out for a half-full pint with a coaster on top of it.

In the etiquette of Irish pub culture, this shows that the table is occupied and that the occupant has just nipped to the bathroom or for a smoke.

6. Know your order – don’t waste time

Knowing your order is one of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture.
Credit: pxfuel.com

If you haven’t decided what you want to drink, don’t go to the bar. You should know in advance of any interaction with the bartender what drinks you intend to order.

Hesitation will only irk the bartender and your fellow drinkers, especially on a busy Friday or Saturday night.

5. Practice patience – they don’t call it a virtue for nothing

Patience is a virtue!
Credit: Flickr/ Lee Haywood

On the flip side of the previous point, you yourself should always practice patience in the bar.

When the bar is three-deep, the Guinness keg needs changing, and the ice buckets are empty, the last thing the staff need is to hear how long it has taken for you to be served. They know.

A little bit of patience and understanding goes a long way in this setting.

4. Let the Guinness settle – good things come to those who wait

Letting the Guinness settle is one of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture.
Credit: Instagram / @theguinnessguru

Rounding off the all-important trilogy of patience is letting your Guinness settle. After applying the virtue of patience waiting to receive your pint, we know you probably want to take a sip of that beautiful black elixir.

But don’t do it! Give your pint some time to settle, and make sure it’s a lovely, velvety black before you take a drink.

3. The lock-in – the ultimate Irish pub tradition

The ultimate Irish tradition.
Credit: Flickr / Colm MacCárthaigh

Ah, there’s nothing like a good ol’ lock-in. You know when you’re having such a good time, you can’t bear the thought of going home and sobering up? Well, with the lock-in, you don’t have to!

The lock-in allows customers to continue drinking and enjoying the craic even after the ‘official’ closing time of the pub. Sadly, lock-ins are few and far between these days, but you’ll still find them, especially in more rural Irish pubs.

2. Trad sessions – show some respect

The trad session is one of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Fáilte Ireland

Trad session musicians are among the most revered patrons of the Irish pub, and so you must treat them with the utmost respect and courtesy.

This means don’t sit down on one of their seats even if they’ve taken a quick break and, above all, don’t talk so loudly that others can hear you over the music.

1. Order a round – it just makes sense

Always order a round.
Credit: Instagram/ @bittlesbar

There is little more annoying to a bartender than having to serve individuals from a group in quick succession. It wastes the bartender’s time, it wastes your fellow patrons’ time, and it will elicit a few eye-rolls and tuts from the auld boys.

Entering into a round saves a lot of hassle, especially if everyone is drinking pints.

However, two cardinal rules to the round exist that you should bear in mind. Firstly, everyone must chip in – no ‘getting the last bus’ just before your turn.

Secondly, don’t change your order during the round – it’s not fair that you buy someone a pint and ask for a double vodka in return.

We hope this outline of the traditions and etiquette of Irish pub culture comes in handy the next time you head for a pint. And remember: be nice to each other.

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