By UL international student ambassador Rachel Pierson.
I left New York for Limerick in mid-January, and since then I’ve met some amazing people, tried some great food, and been to some awesome places.
Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve also learned some things about Irish culture.
1. Full Irish Breakfast
In America, this could be any combination of eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, home fries, toast or a number of things. In Ireland, a Full Breakfast is known as an Irish Full Breakfast. I’m sure you can find one in the US at an authentic Irish pub, but I would say nothing beats having one in Ireland. It can come in a few variations based on your location in the country, but the one I know the best comes from Limerick: two eggs, rashers (bacon), sausage, black and white pudding (made from pig’s blood, but is actually very tasty), baked beans, potatoes, fried tomatoes, and toast. Something else that I should mention—Limerick is famous for its ham; just another reason to try your first Irish breakfast with some of the best rashers & sausage in the country.
You will hear people asking, “what’s the craic?” which means, “how are you/any news?” The word “craic” itself translates to fun and enjoyable—they’re not referring to the drug “crack cocaine.” If you want to find “great craic,” just walk into any Irish pub.
3. Military Time & Different Spellings
When I arrived here, I decided to change the region on my phone to Ireland so that I could really feel like I was in a different country. AM/PM changed to military time, and my phone began autocorrecting favorite to favourite and realize to realise. Now that I’ve been here for a few weeks, I’m starting to get the hang of these things, but I have a feeling that my friends are noticing that my spelling in text is a little different than what it used to be.
In America, these are usually served at summer BBQ’s and consist of peppers, onions, or other vegetables with chicken, shrimp, or steak on a skewer. In Ireland, they are a very popular late night “takeaway” (takeout) food, but the food doesn’t come on a skewer. The meat and veggies are wrapped up in pita bread, sort of like a Greek Gyro, and served with garlic sauce. I was expecting something like the white Greek tzatziki sauce, but it tasted more like honey mustard. Worth the try if you come to Ireland, as all the Irish lads seem to love them.
In America, we are expected to tip because wages are lower for waiters and waitresses. In Ireland, this is not the case. If you receive exceptional service or dine at an extremely fancy place, then feel free to leave a little something, but no more than 10 percent.
6. Irish Coffee
Sounds simple enough, right? Except for the fact that a nice shot of Irish whiskey is stirred into the mix, plus a little bit of brown sugar. If Mom or Dad were here having their usual four or five cups, they’d be having “great craic.” Also, cream comes with your Irish coffee but it does not mean milk like it does in the states. In Ireland, this means whipping cream, so if you want actual milk, be sure to specify, but a classic Irish coffee is not meant to have milk.
7. Rounding Up & Rounding Down
This is something that is definitely not practiced in America. According to the Central Bank of Ireland, “rounding is a simple way for Ireland to reduce the use of 1c and 2c coins. Your change will be rounded up or down to the nearest five cent when you pay by cash.” Basically, if your change due ends in 1, 2, 6, or 7, it will be rounded down to the nearest five cent. If your change ends in 3, 4, 8 or 9, it will be rounded up to the nearest five cent. A pretty creative concept if you ask me.
8. Irish Sense of Humor
To the Irish, it seems that everything can be made into some source of amusement, and you’re always laughing when you’re around them. I’ve met my fair share of those who love to make fun back in the states, but anything, and I mean anything, can be made into a joke here.
9. Beer in Ireland
If you’re in an Irish pub and you order a pint, you really receive a pint. Also, don’t come to here to order your favorite American beer—you’re in Ireland, so order a Guinness. One last word of advice… don’t pick up the pint until it looks like the picture below, or you’ll look like a true tourist and the barman (bartender) may have a few words with you (all in good humor, of course).