So you want to learn about Ireland? You may think it’s a tiny island, but from rich culture to gorgeous landscape and everything in between, there’s more to it than meets the eye. This in-depth guide will tell you everything you need to know to fit right in, whether on holiday or business.
Irish people are some of the friendliest in the world. Fact. (I’m not biased). They are always up for the CRAIC and a joke. In the countryside and smaller villages everyone knows everyone, you can’t go for a walk without greeting passers-by. Every parish will have a church, a GAA club and a real sense of community.
Start from the capital and work your way to Cork, Kerry and Clare. If you have time, don’t stop there! Dublin needs to be seen for Trinity College and the Book of Kells, The Spire and O’Connell’s Street, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle and more. All along the west coast is beautiful, with great opportunities for boating, surfing, fishing, kayaking and any other water activity that tickles your fancy. The Cliffs of Moher are unmissable, and a short way from The Burren, a limestone landscape with remarkable features.
English is the spoken and official language in Ireland since late nineteenth century. Before this, and still in some pockets of the country, Gaeltachts, the Irish language predominated. This is known as Gaeilge. It is also the official language and national language, though a minority claim the ability to speak it. It’s a compulsory subject in schools and some schools, called Gaelscoils, are all-Irish-speaking. Road signs are in the two official languages
If meeting someone for the first time, a handshake is standard, especially in professional circumstances. Hugs and kisses are usually reserved for family and friends. Many families have Sunday lunch together with grandparents and relatives at home or in a restaurant.
You already know how much we love the humble spud. The older generation will eat potatoes every day, if not twice a day. They aren’t accustomed to rices or pasta which are becoming more popular with the variety of restaurants around. A typical Irish dish is bacon and cabbage. This comes with a parsley sauce and potato, obviously. It can be served in a carvery, which many hotels and restaurants offer; a roast of the day in a buffet style. Shepherd’s pie and stew are other classic dinners, while a full Irish breakfast is a huge meal of sausages, pudding and more to kick start the day. The famous drink Guinness must be tried and also our milk is very tasty.
The Irish are great for story telling. They will use there hands and facial expressions to describe feelings or situations. Many brush off comments with a simple wave of the hand. A nod is a simple expression of acknowledgment, greeting or agreement. Saluting while driving is a common courtesy by raising the index finger from the wheel. Small gestures such as holding the door open for someone is common courtesy.
As a member of the EU, Ireland uses the Euro since 2002. Traveling from Europe is easy. Conversion rates for the euro at the moment are $1.18 equaling €1, and £0.91 British pounds to the euro.
Ireland has many museums for different topics, from jails to art. Most are situated in Dublin so definitely go here if museums are your priority. The most famous are The National Museum of Ireland and The National Gallery of Ireland, which store much history. Also see the National History Museum and Irish Museum of Modern Art. Around the island there are various location specific visitor centers.
GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) is unique to Ireland and involves two sports: hurling and football. Hurling is the fastest field sport in the world after hockey, which it is not unsimilar to. Every parish in Ireland has a GAA club and most schools have teams. The All Ireland Championships are a huge deal and there can be strong rivalry between counties. Rugby is also very popular as we have a strong national team, ranked third in the world.
Public transport in Ireland is not something we brag about. The buses are irregular and expensive, and can be non-existent in rural areas. The best way to get around is definitely by car if you value your time. If you need to get from Cork to Dublin or vice versa, Air Coach is very economical. There is also a train service, but this is limited between other parts of the country. In Dublin there are good links via the LUAS and Dart.
In Ireland, the best evening is spent in the local pub with a few friends and pints. This is the easiest way to see the people from your village or town. In the cities there are plenty of bars and restaurants. Night clubs aren’t very plentiful in Cork or Galway but Dublin hosts many. Some smaller towns will have one club which is for all the surrounding areas. Typically people will drink with friends before going out at 10 or 11pm. The clubs close around 2 or 3am. Make sure you have ID and naggin!
Any new country can be overwhelming at first. In Ireland, the people are so welcoming you will feel at ease in no time. Don’t be afraid to talk to people or ask questions. Dive right in from the start, just get outside and explore.
To find out more, visit Ireland! Put this guide into practice. Partnership International offer internships and language courses in Dublin and Cork which you can check out here. What are you waiting for?