25 Things to know about Ireland

Posted: 5. February 2012 in interesting, random thoughts
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Planning to visit Ireland?

Then there are a few things you might want to know,… especially if you come from a different culture.This list is to give future irish residents and tourists an idea on what to expect while being on the green island. Having said that, this list is based purely on my own experience from living here since 2008, so don’t take it too seriously 😉

Now, in no particular order:
1. Punctuality

You won’t need a watch in Ireland, the majority of the irish population is not on time anyway. Irish 5 minutes are about 30 regular minutes.

2. Public Transport

The bus is never on time,… there are no clear time tables either. Also, if you are at a bus-stop, don’t forget to raise your hand, otherwise the bus won’t stop for you (unless someone on the bus wants to get out at that bus stop). Also, if you do raise the hand but the bus driver still doesn’t stop, he might be either in a bad mood or has the impression the bus is already too full.

3. Forget umbrellas

You won’t need them. Yes it does rain in Ireland, but the rain comes in 40 different ways and directions. And the umbrella itself will use the self-destruction-function as soon as it feels the wind.

4. Cliffs of Moher

Go see it, if you don’t, you have not seen Ireland. You will be blown away by it’s beauty,… there is the public area that is fenced for security reasons. But if you are adventurous, there is a path all the way to a ruin, but be very careful, especially with strong winds. Every now and then somebody disappears there…

5. Housing is expensive.

In rural areas it’s cheap. In cities the rent is too expensive for what you get. Also be prepared for very high heating costs, it seems as if the house’s insulation consists of newspaper and chewing gum. Most fireplaces can’t be sealed so there is a constant draft, the walls are veeery thin and the windows are usually not very well fitted.

6. Water

Yes, you can drink the water and it won’t kill you. However, if you come from a country that has great water quality, you might want to buy bottled water. Also, if you are faced with two taps/faucets at the sink, be aware that the one will burn your hand and the other one will turn your fingers instantly into ice-cubes. The trick is to use the sink to mix the water.

7. Green

Plenty of it… beautiful landscapes. And Ireland does have indeed 40 shades of green as you will find out if you do a road trip.

8. Humor

You will need plenty of it,.. if you are a grinch then don’t even bother to talk to the Irish!

9. Music

It’s everywhere, in the Pubs, in the streets, Ireland is the music island! 🙂

10. Postage

If you want to send stuff abroad, for anything bigger than a postcard you might be better off booking an additional suitcase for your return flight. It’s ridiculously expensive.

11. Snow

Simply put, Ireland is whether experienced nor equipped to deal with snow. Even 5cm of snow will bring public transport to a standstill, nobody owns winter tyres, the schools close, the pipes in the houses burst, the roads are like ice rinks. So if you come in winter time be prepared for the worst!

In fairness it rarely has below 0 degrees but it can, and has happened.

12. Pedestrians

You don’t want to cross the street if a car is approaching. Not even at a zebra crossing. The car drivers won’t stop. Very dangerous if you are used to something else and blindly cross the streets!

13. Ice cream in winter

Enjoy it, it is normal to have ice cream in December or January.

14. Vinegar on Chips

Salt and vinegar with your chips/fries? Yes, please! Sounds awful but actually tastes quite nice. You usually get it with fish & chips, a traditional dish.

15. You’ll be grand!

You’ll hear that at least 10 times per day

16. Hooker lookalikes

If you go out at night, be prepared to see everything. I mean, everything. Although there aren’t really any prostitutes, some of the girls dress up like one.

17. Relax on the houseboat

If you really want to relax and switch off from the day-to-day stress, then I really recommend doing a houseboat trip along the river shannon. You’ll see nothing else than nature and sheep.

18. Cigarettes & Alcohol

You simply can’t afford them. Last time I bought cigarettes was 2010 and back then I paid € 8.50 for one box of Marlboro Light/Gold. Also the alcohol is very expensive. For a beer in a pub you’ll pay between 4 and 5 euro. Also you can buy alcohol only during certain times in the shops. This is to fight the general alcohol problem in Ireland,.. but I think this is a useless law.

19. Barrier free toll

Its a bitch. On the motorway, they have that so called ‘barrier free toll’. Your number plate gets scanned while you drive through. And if you don’t pay by 8pm the next day, you’ll receive a invoice and you’ll have to pay double.

20. Crack vs. Craic

If you hear the expression ‘What’s the craic?’, they aren’t talking about drugs, but they want to know if anything funny is going on. Craic is pronounced like ‘Crack’, but is the irish (gaelic) word for ‘fun’.

21. How to order two beer

If you use the index and middle finger, the opposite person will be highly offended.
Use any other gestures, but do NOT use this:










22. Jumpers

The irish wear jumpers to everything,… to go shopping, to go into the Pub,… every time, everywhere.  It’s normal, so better get used to it.

23. Pubs & Guinness

The pub is the second living room of the Irish. You will find a pub in every village, no matter how small. Also, most pubs serve better food than some restaurants! Also, the Guinness is ever-present and you should know, you only start drinking once it has turned completely black. In Cork though it seems that Murphy’s is more popular than the Guinness.

24. Electric Showers

Yes, you switch on an electric device, in your shower. This is not to electrocute yourself, but due to a very low water pressure on this flat island, you either have a waterpump, a power-shower, or you get barely wet when you try to shower. While the water pump usually is somewhere between the tank and the shower, the power-shower is a device mounted in the shower cabin that you switch on and it will heat & pump the water.

25. Sex

Although they don’t look like conservative grannies, (see point 16), they don’t like to actually talk about sex. Nobody,…


And last, but not least…

Still, despite all the little down-sides, Ireland is a wonderful country. The people are really nice, the country is beautiful, and they take things not too serious 😉

To pack Ireland’s beauty in 3 minutes, have a look at this:

  1. Valerie says:

    I SOOO want to visit Ireland some day. And I don’t mean for a week or two. I’d love to stay for a year or so to really appreciate the culture. Thanks for this post!

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