10 Irish things all foreigners find weird

May it be taking the piss or saluting random birds on the road, here are ten Irish things that left me stretching my head.


1.Thanking the bus driver – manners in Ireland

The people of Ireland are known to be some of the friendliest in the world. Although this custom isn’t completely unique to the Emerald Isle, many visitors and foreign nationals, such as myself, are left confused when they see thirty Irish folks departing a bus, each thanking the driver as they do.

According to Dublin Bus research in 2015, 90% of passengers always say thank you to their driver.

In the preceding years, it’s a habit I have proudly come to pick up as well; if anything, this little tradition is yet another example of the Irish humility.


2. Saluting random Birds

The Irish are a superstitious bunch, and there are a ton of bird-related superstitions, some relating to the crow (a common antagonist for farmers) and the beloved robin (if you harm one, it is life-long bad luck for you). 

I had to double-take one fine morning as I saw a gentleman saluting a random bird on his way to work. A weirdly worded google search revealed that it is the fear of seeing a lone magpie that is the most widespread across the country.

However, as long as you salute the creature, or maybe even tell it the time, this should be enough to avoid the misfortune this solo bird is said to represent. I’ve been telling birds the time of the day ever since.


3. The craic

No, not “crack” which has several universal meanings! Here in Ireland, it means the party no other explanation needed except that the Irish find the craic everywhere.

It’s hello, what’s up, and what’s the plan all rolled into one phrase. The word “craic” simply means having fun. Like many countries, Ireland is home to a fairly unique type of humour. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not radically different to anywhere else, but it is uniquely Irish.

crisp sandwich 2 w600

4. Tayto sambo

It’s the best sandwich in the world: plain white pan bread slathered with butter enclosing crispy cheese and onion chips (crisps, as they are known here). It’s the est hangover snack ever in my opinion, the simple dish has to be consumed in order to understand its appeal.

According to the Irish Mirror, the sambos are now so popular they are now served on Aer Lingus, the Irish airline.

Dry Cure Rashers 2

5. Rashers 

It’s bacon, but not really. The heavenly Irish bacon is a  beautifully brined pure pork loin; this is not your average streaky bacon like Americans are used to. It’s much richer and just perfect after the absolute blast you had at the local pub last night.

piss scaled 1

6 taking the “ Piss” 

The term sometimes refers to a form of mockery in which the mocker exaggerates the other person’s characteristics; pretending to take on his or her attitudes, etc., for the purpose of comedic effect at the expense of another. This would be described as “taking the piss” out of that person, or “a piss-take”.

The Late Late Toy Show 2009

7. Watching The Late Late Toy Show

The Late Late Show (an Irish talk show) first aired many years ago, in 1962. It’s now the longest-running talk show in Europe and the second longest-running talk show in the world.

In the 1970s, the Late Late Toy Show first aired and, over the years, it has become a tradition for people in Ireland, old and young, to sit down and watch it.

The show features all of the latest kids toys that are set to be ‘the next big thing’ that year. It also features interviews and performances from musicians.

It’s something I saw at my mates’ house on Christmas and still can’t quite understand, however it’s an Irish Christmas staple.


8. Itchy nose – its fight night 

Still commonly quoted across the island is the superstition that an itchy nose can only mean one thing – it won’t be long before a fight comes your way.

In a similar vein, burning ears traditionally denote that someone is talking behind your back. Not a great combination of omens!

 In a related point, if the palm of your hand is itchy, it apparently means that money is coming your way.

Barmbrack 2

9. Hiding Money In Food At Halloween

Irish Halloween customs can be something of a choking hazard, given that many of them involve hiding things in food. The cake made at Halloween- barmbrack – is traditionally filled with a small coin, a ring and other objects. Colcannon, another Halloween dish, is served with money hidden inside.

It’s another weird, yet fascinating Irish tradition I learned about as I cautiously ate the Christmas cake that my colleague got to work trying my best not to chip a molar.

pub crowd

10. Drinking Rounds

Irish people typically drink in “rounds,” meaning each person buys a drink for every member of the group, taking turns in sequence. Refusing a drink can be seen as insulting in some circles, and accepting drinks from others but not purchasing a round is a significant social faux-pas. The tradition of buying rounds is also common in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

It’s yet another proof of the Irish people’s love for their alcohol; it’s a one-way ticket to destination drunk, and mind you, the Irish don’t stop after a single round.   

Irish culture benefits greatly from the many rich traditions that still take place in Ireland to this day, and the traditions of the Emerald Isle are unique and warm as its inhabitants.  


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