Tales of a 50-Plus History-Lovin' Traveler

Do’s and Dont’s for Travel to Ireland

Do’s and Dont’s for Travel to Ireland

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Do’s and Dont’s Series

– Travel to Ireland –


Dos and Donts Checklist for Travel to Ireland
Dos and Donts Checklist for Travel to Ireland


DO Rent a Car

The best travel experiences come when you spot something unique on the side of the road and you spontaneously think, “I wanna see that!” One of my most cherished memories was spend in a crumbling seaside castle with no body else around.  That was only possible because I rented a car and was able to stop where ever I wanted.

When you rent your own car, you are in control of checking out anything that catches your eye. Try that on a regimented tourbus schedule.

DO Prep for Weather

You can get all four seasons in one afternoon – be ready for it. A chill can make you miserable touring a castle and wet clothes are hard to dry when you don’t have ready access to a clothes dryer. Protect yourself by getting some lightweight armor against the elements.

I have frequently either brought or bought at my destination light jackets like a windbreaker, gloves, scarf or a purse-sized umbrella. There’s the added advantage of bringing them home as a souvenir of your trip abroad. 

Driving In Ireland
Driving In Ireland

DO Tip for Good Service

There are all kinds of articles on the internet about whether to tip or not to tip in Europe. But lets be honest, no one is gonna start screaming if you tip someone and it isnt the standard custom in the country.  Especially if you preface it with gratitude and thanks for making your experience in their country so memorable.

If you had an exceptional experience, feel free to tip.  For hotels, restaurants, taxi and spa services, 10% is acceptable. Bartenders usually do not expect a tip, but if you wish, tip and say this is for them to have a drink later. Just don’t go crazy and start throwing money around like a crazy-person – thats just rude.

DO Learn the Fingerwave

When you are on a self-drive vacation, you may start noticing you have more friends on the road than usual.  People driving past you give you a casual wave out the drivers side window or a flick of the hand from the steering wheel.  Did you meet them before? Why is everyone waving?

On the cramped, narrow countryside roads, this little gesture is a common greeting from one driver to another. Ireland is a friendly country. Feel free to wave back and say “hi” in kind. 

Brown Bread and Irish Stew
Brown Bread and Irish Stew

DO Eat Locally

The words “Ireland” and “Haute Cuisine” aren’t commonly put together in sentences, but times are a’changing. Some of the freshest dairy and cheese products are available in every town. And while traditionally Irish have eschewed seafood dishes due to the austere restrictions of fish being associated with lent, the unspoiled coastlines of Ireland yield some of the most spectacular seafood available in Europe.  Native oysters, wild caught atlantic salmon, shrimp prawns and lobsters are making dramatic, delicious returns to Irish dining tables.

And I don’t care what anyone says, i’m convinced that fresh baked brown bread, steaming flaky shepherds pie and a tall draft of Guinness taste differently when you’re in Ireland.


Temple Bar in Dublin
Temple Bar in Dublin


DON’T Race Around

So many people look at Ireland, see a small island and think – I can do all of that in a week. Is it possible? Sure. You can put you nose to the grindstone and power through all of the “Big 10” Irish tourist attractions and check them off your list.

But the greatest treasure of Ireland is something intangible. The lilt of conversation, the smell of burning peat or the feel of crisp, coastal ocean breezes against your face. Take your time to savor the beauty, people and culture that make this country so unique and you will truly have souvenir memories to look back upon.

DON’T Smoke Indoors

Ever since 2004, you cannot smoke in indoor, enclosed spaces in Ireland anymore. While this has made the old Irish pub experience far more pleasant for non-smokers and those allergic to smoke, its a change from most European experiences. Pubs, restaurants, malls and the like will have designated are for smokers to light up – you just need to locate it.

Don’t try lighting up and assume you can just feign ignorance of the rules. There are signs posted everywhere and the excuse that you are “just a tourist” will not save you. The local constabulary WILL issue a ticket and fine you for the infraction.

Scenic Ireland
Scenic Ireland

DON’T Get Offended

If kissing the Blarney Stone gives you the gift of gab, then profanity is the underlying thread that weaves it all together. Swearing outbursts of “God,” “Jesus,” or the “F-word” are practically adjectives by themselves and second nature to most Irish. In the course of regular conversation, usage of them isn’t meant to be directed as an insult to you, so don’t get upset. Its just a bad habit that most of the nation seems to practice.

DON’T Try Speaking Irish

Someone could read a boring old phone book to me as long as it was read in an Irish accent. Correction – a REAL Irish accent.  Every St. Patrick’s Day, millions of Americans drink green beer and suddenly believe they can speak with an authentic Irish brogue.  I am here to tell you – these unfortunate millions are wrong.

Don’t try to speak with an Irish accent, even if you think you can rock it. You can’t. But you WILL annoy the Irish that are surrounding you. You will get called out. And while we are on the subject, Irish colloquialisms should be off limits too.  No sane irish-person would ever say “Top o the Morning” as a greeting. On a related tangent, asking about leprechauns still doesn’t get any funnier after hearing it a thousand times. Remember this when your beer starts telling you that you can dance well and speak like an Irishman.

A creamy pint of Guinness on the bar
A creamy pint of Guinness on the bar

DON’T Be Pub-Inept

An Irish pub is restaurant, news bureau, therapist office, and communal family room all at once. The regulars will know each other well, but that doesn’t mean they wont welcome you with open arms. But there are some unspoken rules to the pub that you should know.

Wanna talk with locals then hang out at the bar. Are you shy and prefer being alone and observing then take a seat at a table on the floor. But if you REALLY want to endear your self to the patrons, offer to buy a round for the group. Don’t be “THAT person” that drinks when other people pick up the bill, but bails out when it is their turn. Don’t drink and ditch like a tourist.

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