Who knew Ireland was so… Irish?

Posted on 22. Jun, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, Ireland, Press Trips

It seems like Ireland’s reputation follows her everywhere, and even precedes her most of the time.

As they say, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, and that applies to Ireland as well. Let’s see what are the most commons Ireland clichés, and what I have noticed about them.

After spending a week in the country with Shamrocker Adventures, hanging out with locals and exploring some of its most remote corners, I have come to realize that most of the ideas we have on Ireland and its people are, in fact, absolutely true.

Ireland’s weather is crazy

Truer words have never been spoken. The weather in Ireland is as unstable as a PMS teenage girl. One minute the sun is shining bright, but by the time you find your sunglasses in your purse, threatening gray clouds have shielded the golden rays and the wind is unleashing its fury.

The guide for the first two days of the tour, Catherine, told me that this was perfectly normal, and that she usually carries sunscreen, sunglasses, flip-flops, wool socks, an umbrella and a raincoat in her everyday bag. Just in case.

O’Connors pub in Galway

The Irish play traditional music every night

I was truly surprised by the quantity of pubs that had live music shows every night of the week. While some opted for a more modern jazzy approach, most of them remained authentic to their roots and played traditional Irish folklore. And what surprised me even more is how popular these nights are with the young Irish! I remember being in a pub in Galway where the accordion was blasting in my ears - and lively played by a young man of no more than 20 years old. And the dancing crowd was just as young! Irish music is very much alive and in fashion in Ireland, there’s no doubt about that. Another myth confirmed (cue Mythbusters).

The Irish are bad drivers

That one is a bit complicated, I must admit. The fact that Irish drivers are stuck with this reputation is not because of their skills - or therefore lack of - but because the roads in Ireland are insane.

“Why, we’ve got a winding, coastline, narrow road here? Let’s make it two-way and 80 km/h! Oh and why not save a few euros on the railings too by not putting any!” That’s what the engineer-people-who-design-roads think in Ireland. So considering that the Irish have learned to drive on such precarious roads, it’s only normal that they would be considered bad, heavy-foot drivers abroad.

The Irish are heavy drinkers

Well that one probably won’t surprise anyone. It’s one of one most talked-about Ireland clichés!

Yes, the Irish drink. A lot. Lots o’ Guinness, lots o’ cider, lots o’ whiskey. Some guys even take down a Guinness in 4 giants gulps! The pub culture is sacred in Ireland, and whoever says pub says cheap alcohol (and gruesome ladies room). I would be very curious to see how many people suffer liver-related diseases on this elbow-bending island, as opposed to other countries.

The Irish are touchy-feely

That one can be interpreted in two different ways: a tender one, and a frankly creepy one.

You can probably imagine the tender one by thinking of a sweet, middle-aged waitress at the pub, placing her hand on your shoulder asking “You want anything else, honey?” with a sincere smile. That thought truly warms my heart.

The other way to see it is by remembering two heavily intoxicated dudes taking their shirt off in the beer garden of a pub grabbing me by the waist before I could even even say “please don’t touch me with your filthy hands, mister“. And then he told me not to worry because he’s engaged. You know.

The interpretation is up to you. But in either case, the myth is undeniable.

Ireland is really, really green

Very, very true. Everywhere you look green rolling hills abound, in all the shades possible. There are some patches of limestone here and there, and lots of water too, but the truth is that Ireland is nicknamed the Emerald Island for a reason, and she does not fail to impress about that.

Disclaimer: I was a guest on the All Ireland Rocker tour with Shamrocker Adventures. All opinions, as always, are my own.

What are some of your favorite Ireland clichés? Have you found out any that weren’t true? Or totally were?

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30 Responses to “Who knew Ireland was so… Irish?”

  1. Laurence

    22. Jun, 2012

    I actually find cultural stereotypes wonderfully reassuring. Seeing French people wandering with baguettes always brings a smile to my face ;)

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jeff @ GoTravelzing

    23. Jun, 2012

    I was in Ireland recently and saw some of these stereotypes. I was amazed at how friendly the people were.

    I did think the drivers were courteous in the cities and did not honk or try to run you over. I did not drive so I can not say how they are on the open road.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jun, 2012

      Me too. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, regardless of where you’re from. A nice change from France!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Some stereotypes become stereotypes for a good reason. And to answer your question, my favorite Irish stereotype is the belligerent leprechaun.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Katherina

    23. Jun, 2012

    I found Ireland was really unbelievable green - the grass and leaves glow brighter than in Spain for instance!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Katrina

    25. Jun, 2012

    Lived in Cork for over a year and am moving back in a few weeks. CANNOT WAIT! I love the green, the friendliness, the mellow pubs with the lovely trad music… I’m actually brewing (no pun intended) up a post about the things I’m looking forward to once we’re back. One of my favorite sayings is, “Thanks a million!” for even the littlest things. Feels like home when I hear it. :)

    Reply to this comment
  6. Rachael

    25. Jun, 2012

    I’ve been to Ireland twice and found all but the touchy-feely part to be absolutely true (especially the driving…The only place on earth I ever become motion sick is in Ireland!)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      25. Jun, 2012

      The driving was so horrendous! I stayed on the right side of the bus until we were back in the forests, I couldn’t stand being on the left and so close to the unguarded coastline!

      Reply to this comment
  7. Ele

    25. Jun, 2012

    Sounds like that was one great trip. And, unfortunately, the weather is the only thing you cannot book in advance.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Andrea

    25. Jun, 2012

    I loved how there was traditional music in every pub and singalongs (!) every night, everywhere. You’re right, totally Irish cliches…

    Reply to this comment
  9. I have certainly seen the heavy drinking Irish travelers.

    Reply to this comment
  10. I think some of the touchy feelyness might also be connected to the heavey drinking! lol

    Reply to this comment
  11. cheryl

    16. Jul, 2012

    Is it weird that I harbour a fantasy because of PS - I Love You? I hope to travel to Ireland and fall in love with someone who looks like Jeffrey Dean Morgan or Gerard Butler.

    I could handle a touchy feely Irish man if he was as hot as them.

    Cute post. :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Jul, 2012

      Not weird at ALL - if I weren’t married I would do the same, haha. Although I am going to Stockholm in hopes of a Scandinavian viking vampire sighting… :)

      Reply to this comment
  12. JIm Raley

    30. Jul, 2012

    The picture that is labelled “O’Connors Pub in Galway” is wrong. That’s O’Connors Pub in Killarney. I know, having been there more than once. If you look closely, you can see the Gap of Dunloe tour signs on the front of the pub.

    Reply to this comment
  13. vicki

    31. Jul, 2012

    I am comforted by your reassurance of the Irish being so Irish! My grand parents emigrated as children from Belfast, and reading this article just re -awakened my desire to go. I have got to start saving NOW! thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Kurt

    12. Aug, 2012

    A beautiful country where the rain never stops. While not a cliche, I found my best Irishism to be what they tell eager American tourists. Or so I heard.

    Apparently you can find Leprechauns under a bridge at midnight. So Americans go looking under bridges. Haven’t seen it in real life, not a Leprechaun, but supposedly Americans fall for it.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Aug, 2012

      Well, Americans tend to fall for a lot of things… :P

      Reply to this comment
  15. George

    22. Aug, 2012

    What I found shocking is just how different it was to Britain. There was some tension though when I went just after Wales defeated Ireland in the 6 nations. Awkward

    Reply to this comment

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