Friday 7 Feb, 2014

3 Cultural Truths to Know Before Tour: Ireland

One of the key highlights of traveling is encountering new cultures and people, and although the Emerald Isle may not be more than a hop, skip and a jump across the Atlantic the genuinely beautiful people of Ireland are sure to offer you a unique and wonderful experience. Before touring Ireland check out these three cultural facts you may observe.

Cobh, Ireland

The very friendly yet evasive Irish fáilte (welcome)
Ask anyone who has traveled to Ireland and they’ll tell you the Irish do a brilliant job of making visitors feel welcomed. It’s not uncommon for travelers to leave Ireland feeling as though they just made lifelong friends. In fact, a common Irish phrase you may hear during your travels is “Céad míle fáilte” (A hundred thousand welcomes); but, and this takes time to discover, the Irish also tend to be very guarded. When asked a personal question you will rarely, if ever, get a straight answer. This can often be perceived as awkward, but culturally the Irish place tremendous value on their personal space. So don’t be surprised if you pleasantly get lost in friendly conversation with the locals, but don’t expect to uncover their personal thoughts and opinions.

Ireland often feels like one big village
There is a unique sense of nationalism throughout the country that reflects that of a large town or village. While American comedian Rich Hall was touring Ireland he was amused to see the local paper in Cork run the headline “Cork Man Drowns.” Obviously cork floats, so two nights later in Limerick he worked the paper into his routine, assuming the audience would get the joke and find it humorous. Instead of laughter the crowd reaction was total silence, and a bewildered audience was left wondering why he would poke fun at the death of “one of their own.” In many ways this is a familial mentality. People will fight tooth and nail amongst themselves but whether you’re from Dublin or Kerry you’re all Irish!

The modesty gene of the Irish
It’s very unlikely to hear the Irish brag and “big themselves up.” They are much more likely to play down achievements. This is certainly a cultural characteristic different than what we’re used to. Think about the music we listen to or the athletes we follow. Over confidence is regularly engrained in our culture, but even after achieving something genuinely worthwhile, bragging about it is just not in the Irish DNA.