10 Unwritten Rules of an Irish Pub

It is a funny thing how unwritten rules of an Irish pub can somehow be engrained into the knowledge of each patron and almost passed down telepathically, from generation to generation.

These are not talked-about practices, nor are widely-discussed as common-law. Those as mentioned are merely understood as the unwritten rules of an Irish pub.

The vast majority of Irish pub-goers adhere to these, and there is truly no excuse to break these simple 10 commandments.

10. Respect The Musicians – they are more than just music-makers

This is common sense and therefore usually adhered to by all. If live musicians are playing a “session” in the pub, respect their space.

Musicians will usually set up in the corner of the bar, where they place their instruments, equipment and jackets et cetera.

Although this may look (to someone with little common sense) as a bit of extra seating space, it is not.

This space – even if it could squeeze in an extra body or two – is indirectly appointed to the musicians.

9. Don’t Block The View – or you will be yelled at!

If a sports match is on TV, do not stand directly in front of it. Not only will you be heckled by the locals who have come to see the game, but you’re unlikely to make any friends at that pub.

8. Don’t Be A Drunken Lout – no one likes a drunken lout

Often there is one drunken lout. They are generally characterized as being loud, crass, vulgar, rude and gross in their drunken stupor.

No one likes a drunken lout. So simply, don’t be one. Frequently these are the ones to be asked to leave, if not heckled into doing so.

7. Ask Before Taking A Seat – it’s nice to be nice

Be polite, you’re more likely to make friends this way. The Irish are generally very friendly and respond well to good manners.

One of the essential unwritten rules of an Irish pub is to always ask before taking a “free” seat. You never know, it may, in fact, be occupied.

6. Be Cool – respect those serving you

Bartenders have a tough job. They’re on their feet all night; they deal with some held-melting customers; they’re generally busy as hell.

So be patient! Waving and finger-clicking will not be tolerated.

In fact, you’re likely to be pushed to the back of the queue with that attitude.

Also, in a busy Irish pub, you should know your order before getting to the bar. Time is of the essence, and if you need a couple of minutes to consider your options, do so seated.

5. Rounds – get ready to splash some cash

This is the standard drinking system amongst friends in Ireland. If someone buys you a drink, you buy them one back.

If you are in a group of friends, one person will buy each member of the group a drink.

Then another person from that group will buy each member a drink. This continues until each person has purchased a “round” for every member of the group. It can then start again. Skipping or missing your round is one of the things you should never do in Ireland.

4. Leave the Oldies Out of It – they’ve been here longer than you!

Often in Irish pubs, you’ll see older locals sitting at the bar, doing their own thing. Leave them alone. They’ve been around a lot longer than you.

3. Never Discuss Irish Politics – take it from us

It is one of the top unwritten rules of an Irish pub never to discuss Irish politics in a pub. Ireland has a troubled past, and the impact of that lives on today.

It remains a very sore spot for the Irish people, and while divided views remain, it is safe to say best avoid political discussions in the pub.

2. Banter is Essential – get stuck in!

Banter or “the craic” is the Irish humour. It is an element of our culture, which somewhat defines us, and the Irish people wouldn’t be the same without it.

Often, banter can be misconstrued as being mocking or mean, but it is actually intended in good spirit and seen as a sign of camaraderie. Banter is essential in an Irish pub.

It is one of the essential unwritten rules of an Irish pub, so remember, it is taken as well as it is dished out; and, no hard feelings!

1. Coaster on a Drink – the cardinal rule

It is a widely accepted that one of the unwritten rules of an Irish Pub is that the placement of a coaster on top of a drink (i.e. covering a glass) means “be right back” or “gone to the toilet!” Whatever you do, don’t steal the seat or take the drink.

And lastly, remember: always leave with an Irish goodbye!

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