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Irish customs and traditions

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Irish customs and traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. They have been shaped by Irish history and the influences of other cultures. Irish customs and traditions include the Irish language, music, dance, food, drink, and sports. Irish culture is also known for its storytelling, love of nature, and sense of humor. These customs and traditions are an important part of Irish identity.

Public Holidays in Ireland

Public holidays as well as religious days are an important part of Irish society. Holidays are a mixture of Celtic and Christian traditions and celebrations.

St. Brigid’s day is celebrated on 1 -2 February and is traditionally seen as the beginning of spring. Activities on this day include feasting, spring cleaning and using rushes to make St. Brigid’s crosses.

17 March, St. Patrick’s Day is probably the most well known of all the Irish holidays  and although it originally celebrated the coming of Christianity to Ireland, it is now a day to celebrate everything Irish all around the world. St. Patrick’s day festivities include music, dancing and a traditional parade.

30 April -1 May is the traditional Gaelic May Day festival. To mark the beginning of summer, celebrations include decorating buildings and homes with flowers as well as bonfires. 

16 June – Bloomsday. This holiday to commemorate the Irish writer James Joyce and his novel Ulysses was first celebrated in 1954.

Litha (lee-tha) coincided with the summer solstice and celebrations are for the beginning of summer,

1 August marks the start of the harvest season and there will be numerous feats with crops, games and music.

31 October is Halloween and also the Celtic New Year.

25 December – Christmas Day as in most of the world.

Irish Folklore, Music, and Dance

The literary tradition in Ireland is filled with myths, poetry, rhymes and sayings and 

traditional Irish music includes drinking songs, love songs, dancing songs, funny songs, and ballads, some of which are accompanied by instruments such as fiddles, harps, bagpipes, horns and drums.

Language in Ireland

Irish (Gaelic or Irish Gaelic)originated in Ireland and  Irish is now spoken natively by a small minority of the Irish population . 

Irish is enshrined in the Irish constitution as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland and it is an official language of the European Union. The most spoken language in Ireland is English.

Common Irish expressions

Sláinte (slahn-chae] means heathy and are used as a toast to your health.

Wean (wayne): means child.

Slán abhaile [slahn-a-wal-ya), means‘safe home” and will be used to great someone travelling hoime

Dia dhuit (jee-uh ghwitch): means hello.

Eejit (ee-juht): a friendly way of saying someone is acting foolish

Wean (wayne): means child.

Irish Society and Culture

The Catholic Church

Most people in the country are Roman Catholic and as recents as the early 1990s the church had a very strong voice in society as well as politics. Although the role of the church has diminished over the years, religion remains a powerful influence in the view of Irish society on  family, marriage, and abortion.

The Family Unit

The Irish extended family unit is still today the dominant social structure, despite the impact of urbanisation. Irish that has moved away from home will often find that their ties to home are still very strong.

Irish Humour

Having the craic’ is part and partial of the Irish reputation of wit and humour which is often self-deprecating or ironic.

Trading insults and teasing (“slagging”) with people to whom they are close is almost a national pass-time and if you are teased, it is important to take it well and not see it as personal. 

Etiquette in Ireland

Meeting Etiquette

A handshake and a hello is the basic greeting suitable to any occasion.

Older children should be greeted with a handshake.

Eye contact is important and creates mutual trust

Gift Giving Etiquette

In general gifts are given on birthdays and Christmas and will be opened when received.

Gifts do not have to be expensive but rather something thoughtful

Do not give lilies as a flower gift as they are used at religious events and white flowers are reserved for funerals.

Etiquette when Visiting a Home

Always make sure that you arrive on time. A late arrival might spoil the food that has been prepared.

Bring a gift to the host. Chocolates or a bottle of wine would be appropriate

Table manners are continental with the fork in the left had and the knife in the right hand while eating.

Your hands should always be visible but it is considered bad manners to rest your elbows on the table.

Ready for that trip to Ireland? Start planning here!


Last updated May 29, 2023


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Lynn JonesLynn Jones

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

What part of Ireland is that old straw house located?

Carole B

Thursday 6th of April 2023

Hello Please, where is the old house located? Thank you for animer. Best regards