Ireland is a country very near and dear to me, as it’s where my grandfather was from. I had the chance this summer to spend some time in Dublin, Donegal, and Limerick. Not only did I get to stay with locals, I had the chance to experience a homemade Irish meal, stay in a town that still speaks Irish, and attend a few hurling matches. Bypassing the touristy sites for these experiences was the best decision I could have made, as I’ve never felt so welcomed in any country I’ve been in. Here are a few habits I picked up on while I was there.
1. Just because you’re an O’Brien doesn’t mean you deserve free drinks.
There’s probably at least several others with the same last name as you in O’Malley’s Pub, if the whole family isn’t there. They don’t expect free Guinness, and neither should you.
2. There are no cancelling events due to stormy weather.
You don’t skip the Dublin GAA hurling match at Croke Park just because it’s raining. By the time you finish your fish and chips, it’s most likely to be sunny again.
3. Don’t expect to just “drop by” a wedding.
You can plan on your entire weekend being booked with the festivities starting early in the weekend at Doyle’s Pub and ending after the sun has come up on Sunday at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel bar.
4. You must know every last detail of the local sports team.
You’ll be expected to wear that green and white Limerick jersey with pride and know what happened in the last football game play by play. Don’t forget to have an opinion on Robbie Williams’ performance this season as well.
5. Don’t ever order a pint of Guinness for just yourself.
You’ll be kicked out of Mulligan’s Pub faster than the Irish can drink if you order a single pint for yourself. It’s considered very bad etiquette to not buy a round for your group.
6. You’ll get over your fear of singing in public.
Sing songs are quite common and you’ll soon find yourself singing along to “Danny Boy” once someone starts it in the pub. You’ll get over being shy quick.
7. You won’t get an actual address when you’re going to meet someone.
Don’t bother asking for someone’s address because they won’t have one to give you. Just go to Kildimo to say you’re looking for the O’Dooleys, and anyone will be able to direct you.
8. Don’t bother having a beer if you’re not going to be drinking Guinness.
Don’t even try walking up to the bar to order “tinker juice” (hard cider) or anything besides Guinness. You will drink more Guinness than you’ve ever had in your life, and you will like it.
9. “It’s just down the road” doesn’t mean anything.
The Irish use this to mean anything from one block to five miles away. Take a few shots of Bushmills at the Shamrock Lodge before you head out, and that five miler won’t seem so bad.
10. Pubs are not just for drinking.
The Irish gather at pubs for lunch, before weddings, after funerals…really any occasion. That’s not to say drinking isn’t involved…you’ll still end up stumbling back across the dirt road to your studio above Sean’s house after a good night out.