Friday, September 16, 2016

Differences in Ireland

Although travelers to Ireland don't have to deal too much with a language barrier, there are a lot of differences in the Irish Culture. I've hardly grazed the tip of the iceberg so this post is really only an introduction.

I know some of you have been wondering how the size of Ireland compares with the United States. Ireland is tiny. Sometimes, I think it is hard for the locals to grasp at how huge the States are. The combination of Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland equals about the size of Indiana. Their population is very close too. With the combined Ireland being about 5.5 million and Indiana being about 6.6 million. Putting that a little more in perspective, it took us 5 hours to drive to the northwest coast of Ireland in Donegal from the eastern coast at Greystones. So it is a lot smaller here, but that makes traveling far easier.

Of course, the accents are different here as are some of the words. Here are a few. With the US term being listed first followed by the Irish equivalent.

Rock = Stone
Line = Que
Bathroom/Restroom = Toilet
(when I was waiting in "line" for the "restroom" a little Irish girl came up beside me and asked in her beautiful accent, "Is there a que for the Toilet?")
Pants = Trousers
(This is possibly the most humorous one. Pants in the US mean jeans or sweats or something of the sort. Here "pants" is the term for underwear. So if you're shopping and call out to your friends "I really like these pants!" then the locals get rather weirded out.)
Sweater = Jumper
Candy = Sweets
Eraser = Rubber
Check (for your meal) = Bill
Elevator = Lift
Cookies = biscuit
Gummies = Jellies
Parking lot = Car park
Sidewalk = footpath

And those are just some of the differences in the words that are commonly used.

Some more random things I've noticed:

  • Taxes are included in all the prices.
  • Tipping is not really a thing here. The only time it is appropriate to tip is at a nice restaurant with very good service, and even then 10% is considered a very nice tip. 
  • Their grocery stores don't carry much medicines and first aid stuff, that is found in a separate pharmacy. 
  • Since the US is a superpower and whatever happens there affects everyone, including this lovely isle, most of the Irish know more about American politics and the Presidential candidates than most Americans and they are always eager to talk about politics.
  • The Irish are also a very soft spoken people. They talk low, and often quite fast. This combined with their accent can be hard to understand at times.
  • Not only is the electricity current different with differently shaped outlets so that we have to use adapters but in order to use the outlets you have to flip a little switch to turn it on.
  • The light switches are always located on the outside of the room so in the first few weeks here I walked into a lot of dark rooms then had to go back out then turn on the light.

Of course, this is just dusting the surface, but that is all I can think of at the moment.
If you have any more questions about the differences between the US and Ireland, comment below and I'll do my best to answer. No promises that I'll be able to though.


  1. Are not the traffic rules different in Ireland from those in America?

  2. Yes, I'm sure they are. Not sure exactly what all is different, because I'm not driving nor am I particularly interested in that kind of thing so I never really though about it. :)

    They do drive on the left, therefore, they can make left turns easily but have to wait to turn right. They also seem to be really nice and when I'm waiting at an unmarked crosswalk it is only a few seconds before someone stops to let me cross the road. The road signs are also very difficult to locate. There are very few street signs on posts. They are often found halfway up the building or low on a wall. There are also all kind of roundabouts on the highway.
    So that is all I can think of, and most of those are more pedestrians and traffic rather than true traffic laws but... :)

    Funny story. While we were crossing a street in Dublin a few weeks ago, (I don't remember quite how it went we were in a huge group and following the people in front of us)some of the people behind me almost got bulled over by a horse and carriage. That was interesting. :)