Ireland 101 – Things you need to know for your everyday life in Ireland

Ireland is a great place to live. People are friendly and will tell you about the important things you need to know. However, when you are in a country for the first time, it is good to have some knowledge about everyday life. Most people inform themselves enough to know that people drive on the left in Ireland and the currency is the Euro.

But what are the basic things? Where do you go shopping and what are common expressions?

After living in Ireland for two years, I think I know my way around enough to inform all newcomers. Here are things you need to know for your everyday life in Ireland. 

There will be a lot of shops around you, some big and some small. At the start, you might not be fully sure what shops are the basic ones where people do their shopping. 

Grocery shopping

1. Lidl and Aldi
Almost everyone in Europe and even America has heard of Lidl and Aldi. Both probably look pretty like the Lidl and Aldi that you know. Both are cheap places for your weekly grocery shopping trip, but offer just as high-quality food as the other shops I’m going to tell you about. 

2. Tesco and SuperValu
Tesco is known in some countries, but is, internationally, less common than Lidl and Aldi. While Tesco is an English store, SuperValu is Irish. Nevertheless, I feel both can go together as they are similar. 

3. Dunnes Stores and Marks & Spencer
Dunnes Stores (Dunnes for short) sells food, clothes, and houseware. I didn’t know that concept could work well together. However, Dunnes offers a wide range of food at the same price level as Tesco and SuperValu. The difference is that most Dunnes divide into two sections – one for food, and the other for clothes and houseware.
Marks & Spencer follows the same concept as Dunnes, but at a higher price range. 


1. H&M, Zara, etc.
Most international shopping brands can be found in Ireland at the same price that we all know.

2. Next, River Island, and New Look
These are the three shops that I have never heard of before coming to Ireland. I only recently started shopping at these places and realised that they are similar to H&M and worth a look.

3. JD Sport
JD is great for people who like branded sports clothes. It mainly concentrates on selling shoes, but also offers a range of sports clothing. In-house brands include Adidas, Nike, Puma, and most other brands that are around at the moment.

4. Shaws
Shaws is a rather big shop that sells its own brand as well as some others. It is worth a look if you need something more than just everyday wear.

5. Charity shops
Never have I ever seen as many charity shops anywhere else. There are a lot of different second-hand and charity shops everywhere. With sustainable clothing becoming more popular by the second, it is not a bad idea to check them out and buy something for a good cause.


1. Sam McCauley Health & Beauty, and Boots
Sam McCauley and Boots are the two pharmacies I came across the most. Both offer medical supplies, as well as beauty and wellness products.

2. Privately owned pharmacies
There are just as many privately owned pharmacies as charity shops. At the start, I didn’t trust them as much because they are smaller. After some time, I’ve realised that they are just as good as the big pharmacy chains.
It just depends on where you prefer to go. If you have a prescription from your doctor, any pharmacy will look at that for you. 


1. Carraig Donn
Carraig Donn sells clothes but also some household ware. It is a very colourful shop with some cute things for your interior or garden.  

2. Eason
Eason is the most common book shop in Ireland. You can find it everywhere. They sell all types of books. Sometimes their prices can be higher than somewhere else. Nevertheless, it is a nice shop to have a look around and explore the best-selling books. 

3. Mr Price
Mr Price is a great shop if you are looking for a bargain. It sells houseware, as well as stationery, and arts and crafts material. Whenever you need to get something, check out Mr Price, as you might find something just as good for a lower price. 

Irish Expressions

1. Hi, how are you?
You can expect that the person at the till in Lidl will ask you how you are doing. That is just the Irish way of greeting. You can answer by saying how you are doing or just ask the question back without answering. Both responses are correct and polite. 

2. Lovely, like, and so
These are three words you will hear A LOT. In Ireland, everything is lovely, from the weather to the top that you’re wearing.
Also, after almost every sentence, people will add the word ‘like’ for no reason, as well as including “so” into the conversation when it doesn’t mean anything. 

3. Take care, good luck, and cheers
Three ways for saying bye. At the start, I got confused with “good luck” because the Irish pronunciation sounds exactly like “good look” and I thought everyone was giving me a compliment.
“Cheers” is used more by men than women and has a lot of meanings. It can mean “bye”, cheers in a pub when you clink your glasses, and “thank you”. 

4. Eejit
An eejit is an idiot. It seems to be more like a joke than an insult and is used quite a lot. 

Everyday Basics

1. No alcohol in the morning
You are only able to buy alcohol after 10.30 am in the morning, Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and St. Patrick’s Day, you have to wait until 12.30 pm to purchase it. 

2. Banks
If you are considering staying in Ireland or doing business with a bank, Bank of Ireland and AIB are the two most common nationwide banks. 

3. Doctors
Most people refer to their general doctor as a GP (General Practitioner).
Also, if you have to see the doctor for any reason, it will cost you about €50 per visit upfront plus the medicine, if he prescribes you any. Whether you have health insurance or not doesn’t make any difference to your visit and the cost attached. 

4. Prescriptions
If you want to get your prescription from the pharmacy, you have to expect a 10-20 minute waiting time. 

5. RTÉ
RTÉ is the one channel on Irish TV that everybody knows and interacts with in some way. So, if you hear people talk about RTÉ, you know that they are talking about a news channel like, for example, BBC. 

6. Public transport
There is no public transport in Ireland. At least, none in smaller towns that bring you to places in the same town. There is public transport in Dublin, which has to do with the high number of people that live there. Otherwise, you need to have a car to get around or live locally. 

Those are a lot of things, but I think that, had I known these things at the start, they would’ve saved me a lot of confusion and question marks. It can make getting around in Ireland a bit easier, and help you know and understand everything a bit more.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about Ireland? Let us know in the comments. 

Christine Brungard
Christine Brungard

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