With my semester is Ireland wrapping up, I figured I’ve been here long enough to call myself at least knowledgeable on cultural norms of the Irish.
8 pm? You mean 8:30?
A comedian posted the following story : “In the year 1919, at the Turken Strasse barracks in Munich, Germany, an Irishman named Michael Keogh, arrived at the POW camp just in time to save a young corporal from being beaten to death by a bunch of his fellow German soldiers. The corporal had drawn his comrades ire by ranting off some anti-Semitic hate speech. For his own safety, the corporal was taken to a guardroom for the remainder of his internment. The corporal’s name was Adolf Hitler.
Later in life, reflecting on what had happened in the successive decades following that night, Michael Keogh said the following, “I wish I had been a few minutes late.” And ever since then, no Irish person has been on time for anything due to a rightful fear that it might lead to WW3, so the next time an Irish friend of yours arrives late, thank him or her for doing their bit to make this world a safer place.”
The story, in fact, is apparently true. While there are multiple sources citing this story, it’s obviously not the reason that the entire Irish population is usually a bit behind on time.
The Ending of the Irish Phone Call
“Bye bye buh-bye bye bye bye bye.” Whenever I hear an Irish person on the phone, this is the inevitable end! If it ever ends. I’ve come to believe these phone calls usually end by someone accidentally hanging up on one end or the other. I think this can attributed to overwhelming friendliness exhibited by the Irish. I wonder how much call time is actually spent just saying “bye.”
Walking around the streets of Dublin offers you the unique opportunity to be assailed by clouds of smoke for every five steps you take! A bit of an exaggeration of course, but smoking is a social staple among almost all ages of Irish people.
This cultural norm, of course, is known throughout the world. A quick Google search shows that Dublin contains well over 1,000 pubs! People are seen out and about every night of the week, usually starting on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Most smaller pubs are open til midnight, clubs until two, while a few are open until four. The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18, but you see people of all ages in pubs and clubs alike.
‘Happy Hours’ has been prohibited since August of 2003, while off-license facilities can only sell alcohol between 10:30 am – 10:00 pm on weekdays and 12:30 pm to 10:00 pm on Sundays.
Guinness, of course, is brewed in Dublin and available on tap in, I’m sure, every pub in the city. Other Irish alcohols include Jameson Irish Whiskey, Baileys Irish Cream, Bulmer’s Irish Cider, and Smithwick’s Irish Ale.
One of the things I find strange since I’ve been here is that when I hand a cashier money, they say thank you. They also say thank you when they hand back my change! It’s like “thank you for handing me money to pay for things that you picked out.” Am I supposed to say thank you back? Am I supposed to say you’re welcome? I still don’t know how to handle these situation and I’ve been here for four months. It’s polite, sure, and now I’m used to it, but I still find it strange.
I found this great video which shows some of these mentioned traits — the Irish have a great sense of humor and humility as well!