Getting Along with the Irish
(Hint: This is not that hard!)
Here's a little advice on Irish etiquette: don't be a jerk. That's pretty much all you need to
The Irish are famously easygoing, and welcome strangers very readily. Best of all, they tend
to be pretty straight shooters - if you do something rude, someone will gently let you know
and set you straight with a smile.
Here, though, are a few missteps to avoid while you're in the country:
1. Respect people's property , especially when it comes to fences and gates.
Walking in the countryside is one of the most glorious experiences Ireland has to offer, and
the locals are well aware of it. (Tell anyone in the western counties you're going for a “hill
walk” and they'll probably pepper you with advice on the best routes and vistas.) But unlike
in the U.S., most of your hiking will be on private property rather than public land, and more
often than not you'll be trekking right through someone's back yard. So be respectful! Be
sure to say hello if you run into the owner, and if you open a gate to pass through, always
ALWAYS close it behind you.
2. Joke around - respectfully .
The Irish are rightly renowned for their sense of humor, which ranges from dry and biting
to bawdy and raucous. Strangers are often welcomed with jokes and maybe a little good-
natured teasing, and you should feel free to crack a few jokes in response. But certain topics
- especially race and religion - are not considered appropriate for humor. The Irish have
suffered truly calamitous violence over the past several centuries, and much of it has been
ethnically or religiously motivated. You could well be talking to someone who lost a friend
or relative in the Troubles. Similarly, many people will be offended if you joke about the
Great Potato Famine or the Catholic Laws that oppressed the Irish people under British rule.
In some cases, the Irish are also sensitive about their reputation as a heavy-drinking culture.
The majority find this stereotype humorous (and perhaps see a little truth in it), but some
people have been hurt by alcoholism and may not appreciate your making light of it. Just be