Are you ready for the most unforgettable trip to the Emerald Isle? While you might think so, there are more than likely many things you do not know yet. There is some basic yet essential information that you should be aware of before setting up your tours to Ireland. Some might surprise you, some might not, but they will definitely help you on the way! So, let’s look through our list of things to know about Ireland before visiting.
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Ireland and Northern Ireland
Let’s start with some basic geography and history! You do not want to appear ignorant to the Irish by not knowing the most simple yet significant info about their country.
Geopolitically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The first one is something we refer to as simply Ireland, and it is not to be mixed together with the second. While Northern Ireland is only one-sixth of the island, they take pride in being an independent, sole country, so you should remember that before smushing the two places together.
The key point you should remember is that Northern Ireland was created since the majority of its population were unionists who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. So just be knowledgeable and respectful of their history, and all will be good!
It Rains. A Lot!
While this might be common knowledge for you, we think it is wise to emphasize it again – it rains a lot in Ireland!
While the weather can be unpredictable, more often than not, there is a great possibility of being caught in a blizzard, so you should take care of your rain gear! Bring an umbrella and a raincoat, also a good pair of waterproof boots and warm clothing. As beautiful as the region is, the humidity is constant, and while the locals are entirely used to it, it might be a shock to you!
You will most likely overpay if you buy everything in the middle of your touring.
The Irish Are Very Friendly
Most of the Irish people you will meet on your trip will be extremely fun, and generally, they are a very laid-back, friendly bunch! This is actually one of the stereotypes about them that is very true.
Do not be surprised if random strangers stop to chat, and do not hesitate to strike up a conversation. They are very helpful as well, so if you find yourself in a difficult situation while exploring or simply navigating, the locals will most definitely lend you a hand. Also, they will expect the same courtesy from you, so try to be cordial and simply try to have a good time!
Visit the Rural Areas
While Ireland’s cities are rich in culture and history and will most definitely end up on your itinerary, you should not bypass the more natural side of it.
There are plenty of stunning areas of greenery and striking natural landscapes, unspoiled by humans and perfectly explaining why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. Visit the media-famous Cliffs of Moher, a distinctive rock formation appearing in the Harry Potter franchise and many others. Also, we suggest you make your way to Giant’s Causeway, one of the most unique and mystical places in Ireland.
If you explore the lands by train, there will be numerous villages to enjoy and see the authentic Irish countryside. Make sure you mix in some nature while tripping!
Pubs Are a Must
A considerable part of the Irish culture is the pubs and bars. There are some great places to have a drink, some extremely old, basically ancient. That being said, there is no culture of heavy drinking and all-time buzzing. The reason pubs and bars are so important to their identity are some of the best-developed alcoholic beverages that came many years ago.
Even if you visit only one tavern, Guinness beer is your drink! The Irish are extremely proud of it, as they should be. A pint of fresh cool beer will restart your day, and if you pair it up with some traditional Irish food, you are one step closer to knowing Ireland in-depth!
Sundays Are Sleepy
While the first six days in Ireland are full of life and energy, Sundays are usually way calmer. This is because the Irish are faithful Catholics, and they follow their Catholic values and beliefs very thoroughly.
Since Sunday is God’s day and the one day in the week you should tend to the Bible, most residents choose to stay inside and chill. This actually affects businesses and services. You will see plenty of shops closed down for the day, and the streets are much emptier. We suggest you do some research before planning your Sundays there, especially if you have some elaborate plans. Check the schedules for tourist-popular sightseeing places, as they can be closed on Sundays, or at least work for a shorter time period.
They Swear a Lot
While swearing, in general, is frowned upon, it is treated differently in different cultures. In the case of the Irish, they are quite loud and free about it. This has nothing to do with poor education or vulgarity; it is just something they use to express themselves, so do not be surprised if you hear a lot of swear words.
The Irish are very expressive and energetic, and cursing helps them get on with their point. You might even hear the children saying bad words, but it is entirely normal in their area! They also will not get offended if you do the same, as long as you do it with good intentions.
Rental Cars Are a Great Option
While trains are great for crossing long distances between cities, you should also consider renting a car. But, of course, if you only plan on staying in one city, there is absolutely no need for it.
However, a car might be in your best interest if your itinerary is filled with a lot of traveling and crossing borders of many cities. Yes, it will cost you a lot more money than choosing public transportation, but they are very comfortable and great for enjoying the off-beaten paths.
There are plenty of roads trains do not reach, so you risk missing a lot of that beautiful Ireland landscape we were talking about!
They Do Not Enjoy Stereotyping
As with all countries, Ireland is shrouded in stereotypes. These include having red hair, frequent display of violence, their accent, and so on. While some of the stereotypes might be true, the Irish do not enjoy common jokes about their heritage and cliche features of themselves.
Instead of making general assumptions about them and their country, go with open eyes and ears, and see everything for yourself.
Also, avoid banter about the 19th-century Great Famine, also known as the Potato Famine. While it has been a while, it wrecked the country tremendously at the time, and the Irish do not take it lightly, so do not joke about it!
There you go! Now you know some essential, albeit quite basic, things about Ireland and its people, so you can feel fully confident before your travels. Remember always to be respectful and open, and they will welcome you with open arms. Have fun!
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!