As every country Ireland has a special culture that developed over the years and is still developing. It´s important that you know the basics about Irish culture and customs if you want to stay here, because otherwise you can get confused if you come across them or you make faux pas by don´t knowing them.
In this post you will find some of these traditions or customs that are usual in Ireland and which you will come across during your stay in Dublin.
This is the celtic language which is spoken besides English. It was the first language of Ireland for a long time, but since the 17th Century it changed to English. Today it´s still the first language of a small minority and in general use as well. You will see it on signs, newspapers, etc. and the language is teached in schools due to the Language Act of 2003.
Its future is uncertain, although there are loads of actions to keep the language “alive”. You maybe know the gaelic word “sláinte” which means “cheers” when you’re having some drinks.
The shamrock is regarded as a symbol of Ireland. Legend says that St. Patrick used it as a metaphor to explain the holy trinity to the celtics tribes of Ireland. It also was the emblem of Irish militias in the 18th Century.
Today you can find it everywhere in Ireland for example as a logo for sport teams or for the Irish troops. Moreover there are a lot of Irish songs about the shamrock.
Another Irish emblem that you can find on Irish Euros, company logos or logos of the government. The harp has it roots 1000 years ago and was brought to Ireland by the Celtics. King Henry VIII choose the harp as a symbol of Ireland and since then it is a symbol of Ireland.
The harp and the shamrock are even trademarked by the Irish government, so they have an official status.
Green as the colour of Ireland
Green is regarded as the colour of Ireland, but it´s actually a light blue, also called St. Patrick´s Blue.
The green maybe comes from the nationalist movement from the 20th Century, as they searched a colour for their movement. Or because Ireland is regarded as the “Emerald Isle”, because the landscapes are so green. It’s most likely a mixture of both theories and due to that we connect Ireland with the colour green.
The Irish flag consists of the colours green, white and orange. The colour green stands for the Catholic population and orange for the Protestants. The colour white in the middle symbolizes the peace that should be there between these two parties.
It got famous during the 1916 Easter Risings, but was actually invented by Thomas Meagher in 1848. Since 1937 it has constitutional status and is the official flag of the Republic of Ireland.
Role of Potatoes in Ireland
You can expect that you will eat loads of potatoes if you stay in a host family in Dublin. The average citizen of Ireland eats 91,5 kg of potatoes per year. To compare, the average of the world is 32,6 kg of potatoes per year per person. As you can see potatoes play an important role here and come in every form or shape.
It has a long history in Ireland and was even regarded as a magic food due to its nutritions. In the 1850s famine in Ireland the potatoes were infested by a fungus and so the principal food of the Irish during this time wasn’t available anymore. About 1 million people died and 2 million emigrated. Nevertheless, the potato is an important food in Ireland.
St. Patrick´s Day
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, because it is told that he brought Christianity to Ireland. The 17th March is anniversary of death and the Irish people celebrate that day and it’s also a bank holiday.
On this day you will see festive parades, parties, festivals and the people will dress up and paint their faces.
The tea culture is very important in Ireland. You usually drink the black tea with milk and it´s kind of a social ritual here. The average Irishman or -woman drinks 4 to 6 cups per day, scattered over the day.
Offering a cup of tea if you have visitors over is even regarded as the backbone of the Irish hospitality.
This is a collection of some Irish customs that you will see in Dublin:
- Greeting people: The Irish always make eye contact while meeting each other and shake hands or hug as a greeting.
- Time Keeping: Irish are very relaxed about the time, so don’t worry if your appointment is later than you agreed on.
- Manners: You will hear a lot of “thank you”, “sorry” and “please” during your stay in Dublin, because most of the Irish people are very friendly and polite. They even say thank you to the bus driver when leaving the bus or apologize if they have to push through a busy place.
- Smiling: Irish people also smile a lot, so be ready to be welcomed with a smile everywhere.
- Easygoing: It’s important for the Irish people to be regarded as an easygoing person, even for politicians, so that they are liked by the public.
I hope you got an insight now on the Irish culture and customs and don’t be afraid to try to adapt yourself to these!!