Prior to moving abroad, a large number of expats prepare for the practicalities of moving; whether that be researching the new area, making travel arrangements or filling out visa applications. Intercultural communication is often overlooked and should be a focal point of your move abroad. And just because you might be moving to a country that speaks the same language, there can still be lots to learn. This is true for anyone moving to Ireland.
This doesn’t just mean learning the local language, either. Intercultural communication can cover:
- Attitudes towards smoking, drinking and drugs
- Gestures and body language
Here, we’ll be exploring Irish culture and customs to help you get one step ahead within your moving to Ireland process.
Introduction to Irish Culture
Often referred to as the Emerald Isle, the beautiful land of Ireland has often been a scene of conquest. Remnants of ancient culture still linger in Ireland, with traditions reflecting the country’s history. For most of its recorded history, Irish culture has been primarily Gaelic and has been heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, English, and Scottish culture.
Religion in Ireland
Religion has long been a pivotal aspect of Irish society. Before Christianity was in Ireland, the Celts followed a druidic religion; a movement that would generally promote harmony and reverence for the natural world. St. Patrick arrived around AD 432 and introduced Christianity. With this came many additions and changes to the Irish tradition and culture. In the 16th Century, protestant families came to settle on Irish lands, creating the beginning of the religious, economic, political and social conflict
Today, the predominant religion in Ireland is Christianity, with the largest church being Catholic. Orthodox Christian, Hindu and Muslim populations have experienced significant growth in recent years, driven mostly by immigration.
Holidays in Ireland
Alongside religion, holidays are also an important part of Irish tradition. Here is a full list of all the national holidays in Ireland:
1st January 2022 – New Years Day
17th March 2022 – St Patrick’s Day
18th April 2022 – Easter Monday
2nd May 2022 – May Bank Holiday
6th June 2022 – June Bank Holiday
1st August 2022 – August Bank Holiday
31st October 2022 – October Bank Holiday
25th December 2022 – Christmas Day
26th December 2022 – St Stephen’s Day
Music & Dance in Ireland
In Irish tradition, stories have been told using myths, fables and poetry. Traditional Irish music has roots in the past and includes a range of drinking songs, love songs, funny songs and ballads. Some early Irish instruments are still used today, including fiddles, bagpipes (uilleann pipes), horns and harps.
Music and storytelling in Ireland have always been a key form of entertainment, with people gathering in public houses and homes to hear stories and play music. Dancing would also be incorporated, which is where iconic Irish dancing traditions originate from. Irish dancing is a major part of their culture and has grown in popularity, especially in new generations. The newfound revival can be related to the success of Riverdance.
There is an array of unique food to taste in Ireland which originates from ancient Irish traditions. Here are just some popular Irish delicacies to try:
Irish Stew – A very traditional lamb and vegetable stew.
Irish Soda Bread – A quick bread that does not require any yeast. Soda bread is often served with Irish stew.
Full Irish Breakfast – A full breakfast comprising mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, bubble and squeak, baked beans, bacon, black pudding, sausage, Irish soda bread toast, and tea.
Shepherd’s Pie – A rich filling of lamb, vegetables and gravy, topped with mashed potatoes.
Although English is the key language spoken in Ireland, the unique language of the ‘Gaeilge’ is also spoken. Gaelige is only spoken as a first language in areas such as Galway, Kerry and Donegal, and is therefore recognised as a minority language.
Many people in Ireland will know how to speak some Irish phrases. Here are some of the most popular Irish sayings:
Slainte – ‘Cheers’
Dia Duit – ‘Hello’
Is Mise…. – ‘My Name is’
Conas atá tú – ‘How are you’