I'm an American who visited Ireland. Here are the 6 biggest differences I noticed.

  • I went to Ireland and noticed some big cultural differences between the country and the US
  • Everyone makes small talk with you there, but public chatter is generally quieter than back home.
  • I couldn't keep my tab open at the pub, but there was more freedom to eat and drink at the beach.


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helo.my: Traveling to Ireland as an American opened my eyes to a few key cultural differences. 

Based on my experience on the Emerald Isle, here are some of the things I noticed:


In Ireland, small talk is a lifestyle

I sat awestruck in the middle of groups of Irish people small-talking.

They'll ask: What did you do yesterday? What did you do today? What are you doing tomorrow? Then repeat those same questions, but ask what someone's brother, sister, or mother is getting up to.

After that, there's maybe an hour-long conversation about the weather.


If you speak too loudly, you might freak people out

I found that Americans can come across like over-enthusiastic golden-retriever puppies in Ireland, in part, because we tend to be a little louder.

On my most recent trip to Ireland, there were many instances in which I would ask a salesperson a question and she would appear to jump out of her skin from fright due to the sheer volume of my voice.

Irish people, on the other hand, can be quiet. They must also have superhuman auditory powers because I sometimes don't know how else they can hear each other.


It's not common to keep a tab open at the pub


No trip to Dublin is complete without a pub stop. AF Webb for Insider


In Ireland, buying rounds for every single person you know at the bar is like a religion. Everyone also seems to solely use cash. This somehow mitigates the need for open tabs at a bar.

If you order one drink and ask the bartender to keep your tab open, they might look at you with a confused expression.

This happened to me. I walked away and tried to order another drink a few hours later, but was just handed back my card and the receipt for the first drink. 


Contrary to popular belief, it takes people ages to say goodbye in Ireland

We've all heard of the "Irish goodbye" — when you leave a party or bar early and unannounced.

But after interacting with quite a few Irish people, I found it's a true time-saving measure. I can understand why you wouldn't want to sound off the chorus of goodbyes. 

And I mean that literally. When they're hanging up the phone, many Irish people will say goodbye six or seven times.

After saying goodbye in person, they'll usually keep talking for another 10 minutes and then say bye again — rinse and repeat until someone finally pulls the plug and walks away. It's charming.


Don't expect to be considered Irish just because your great-grandparent was born there


Americans have a different definition of what it means to be Irish. Carlo Allegri/Reuters


No one in Ireland is impressed that you have one, two, or even four Irish great-grandparents — at least in my experience.

It's common in American culture to celebrate Irish heritage, especially around St. Patrick's day. But you'll just be considered American on your visit to the Emerald Isle. 


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There seemed to be less surveillance in shared public spaces

As a native of the Jersey Shore, I'm accustomed to every aspect of my beach-going experience being monitored, taxed, and controlled by the local government.

Beach access and parking cost money, many beaches don't allow food or drinks to avoid litter, and certain areas are off-limits to humans due to the risk of personal injury.

When I went to the beach in Donegal, Ireland, however, I found the opposite situation.

People were trusted to drive their cars onto the beach, eat and drink all day, and clean up after themselves when they were done. 

This article is originally posted on Insider

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