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Irish Culture And Customs

Among all the peculiar features of Irish culture and customs the Irish way of making conversation is probably the most noticeable to the newcomer.

Making Conversation

Imagine yourself in a bar in any big city around the world...everyone keeps to themselves, or to their own group of friends. Ladies might get a cheesy chat up line. 

But you would rarely get into genuine good conversation with a total stranger. This is very different in Ireland.  

Irish pubs are usually quite noisy late at night when they are crowded. Everyone chats.

Irish customs, chatting in the street

Irish culture and customs- stopped for a chat in Galway.

Irish people are very friendly. They love to chat and are likely to approach you and make contact in any context, in a pub, waiting at the bus stop, when you are out for a walk. If they sense that you are open for a chat, they will talk to you.

I took the photo above on an ordinary day in Galway. Just walking down the street I saw so many people stopping for chats that I just had to capture someone to show you here what it is like.

How To Start A Conversation Adhering To Irish Culture And Customs

What is a good start-up conversation topic?

Hm, let me see...what could I pick...

How about...the weather?

The weather is always a safe and easy topic and a great opener for a chat. It must be the most frequently talked about subject in Ireland. There is always something remarkable or something to complain about today’s weather...

After a while, when you get into the swing of it, you can start to use that one yourself. It makes for a great topic especially with complete strangers. Talk about the rain. Talk about the fact that the sun is out today. “Way too cold today...”, “The sun is lovely...”, ”The wind is chilly though...” and so on...

It gives the person who is starting the chat the opportunity to test, in a very non- committal and non-pressuring way, whether the other party is in the mood to talk. Give it a go yourself once you’ve experienced it a few times, see how easy it is and how well it works.

Read More About Irish Customs

Read about the next stage in making conversation where your conversation partner will look to bond with you.

Find out peculiar facts on Irish culture and customs of interacting.

Find out about the concepts of privacy and personal space in Ireland.

Find out some secrets to social interaction in Ireland when you are out and about.

Find out about Irish people and their family values.

Find out some first impressions about the Irish that will strike you early on.

Irish People ‘Checking You Out’ In Conversation

Irish customs, the chat in the street

Irish culture and customs of making conversation have people stopping for a chat just as the ladies on the photos here.

Having a chat is seen as a genuine pleasure in Ireland, a little luxury in the midst of an ordinary day.

When Irish people start a chat with you, one of the first questions is definitely going to be: “Are you on holidays?”

Believe it or not, I am still asked this question after twenty odd years of living here. Sometimes it annoys me, but I have come to accept it as a ritual.

It means, I have heard your accent, and I know you are not from around here, so let me find out, in a polite way, where to place you. It is friendly curiosity, but sometimes a little more than that. It can be a sort of protective or defensive gauging of what your business is here, exactly.

“Where are you from?” Continues down that same path, once your conversation partner has gained a bit more courage to now ask a more personal question. Although it can be asked in a variety of ways, with different meanings. These can range from: You seem nice and I want to find out more about you. To: I am going through the motions asking you the usual/ obvious stuff. To: I know you are German but I'll ask anyway. To: I want to know what box to place you in.

It has taken me years to understand why this issue of where you are from and what you are doing here is so important in Ireland. Yes I could call it a small minded island mentality. It might be that in some cases. But there's more to it as well.

The reality is, Irish people will even ask each other the same question! Which corner of Ireland you are from is as important as where you are from in the world....I have come to think of it like this: When you take into account the history of the country, the countless waves of settlements and invasions, and Ireland's status as an English colony until relatively recently, 1922, you can then understand much more easily how people here have an interest in outsiders but can also be a bit wary of them sometimes.

It’s not a conscious thing. It’s something that has imprinted itself on the collective mentality over many generations. Checking out where you are from and what you are doing here is usually enough to get over that.

Once you answer, one response you are likely to hear is that either they, or someone they know, have been to your hometown or your country, or to somewhere nearby. The Irish travel a lot, and in the last few years, have started to emigrate again to places that offer better work opportunities. “Nice place.” “Great place for...” “Isn’t that where...”

The chat is being brought to the next stage. Once your differences have been established, your conversation partner will now aim to find a mutual topic.

Read here about the next stage of conversation where your conversation partner is going to look for topics to bond over.

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