If you are planning a trip to Emerald Isle, you’ll want to know some of the most important Irish traditions! A land of breathtaking landscapes, historic cities and vibrant culture, Ireland is a pleasure to explore. From sitting in a cosy pub listening to traditional Irish music to uncovering the folklore behind Ireland’s natural landscapes, there’s plenty of opportunities to experience Irish traditions for yourself! Here are some of the most important Irish traditions to discover on a trip to Ireland!
Irish Christmas Traditions
Ireland is one of the most joyful places to celebrate the festive season thanks to the many Irish Christmas traditions. Cheerful illuminations decorate the city streets and the pubs are filled with friends and families celebrating the holidays. Although these are the usual things you’ll see anywhere at Christmas time, Ireland also has some unique, older traditions. One such tradition is leaving a candle in the window. Thought to represent a welcome to the wandering Mary and Joseph on the eve of Christ’s birth, nowadays it is a sign that those less fortunate are free to pick up offerings of food from the house.
Another Irish Christmas tradition is the ’12 pubs of Christmas’. In this tradition, revellers take a tour of the local pubs, stopping for a pint in each of them! Of course, not many can actually complete the ’12 pubs of Christmas’ challenge. Another unique Irish tradition is the Christmas Day swim. In coastal towns, locals tend to gather on the beach on Christmas morning to plunge into the freezing water of the Irish Sea. Many of these swims are sponsors for charity.
Irish traditions: Halloween
You might think Halloween is an American celebration, but the Irish take this holiday very seriously! Over a thousand years ago, Irish ancestors celebrated the beginning of winter with the Festival of Samhain on the 31st of October. This Celtic pagan festival is still an important part of Irish culture. If you travel to Ireland on Halloween you’ll likely see children dressed up in costumes and adults celebrating in the city’s pubs and venues. Furthermore, bonfires are lit and more traditional folk take the chance to honor their ancestors.
Irish humor: Craic
Craic simply means to have fun. In Ireland, a good night out with friends or family is sure to include a good amount of craic. Good craic depends on having a laugh with friends and using lots of cheeky humor in your conversations. This Irish tradition just goes to show how having a good time is at the heart of everyday life in Ireland. Craic is often used in sentences, so here’s a quick guide to help you understand this widely used slang word:
“How’s the craic?” – How are you? How are you doing?
“We had great craic.” – We had great fun.
“They’re great craic” – They’re fun and good company.
Traditional Irish music and dance
One of the best things about traveling to Ireland is the chance to enjoy the fabulous arts scene. Music and dance are a pillar of Irish culture and you’re never far from a live performance if you go out in an Irish town. Known as ‘trad sessions’, local pubs around the country host traditional music nights which appeal to locals and visitors alike. The fiddle, harp, accordion, banjo and flute and whistle are just some of the most commonly played traditional Irish instruments. Music runs deep into Irish culture, and is truly one of the most enjoyable and accessible Irish traditions!
The Irish are also known for their dancing. In fact, Irish dancing can be traced back to at least the 1500s. Jigs, step dancing, and ceili dances are all popular Irish dance styles. In recent years, Irish dancing traditions have become popular thanks to the theatre show: Riverdance. It’s truly one of the top Irish traditions.
Myths and legends abound in Ireland! The magical landscapes of the Emerald Isle have inspired countless folk stories. From fairies to leprechauns and giants, many Irish destinations have connections to ancient tales. So, if you travel to Ireland and see a hawthorn tree, tread lightly, because these trees are said to mark the territory of fairies. Furthermore, if you visit the rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll actually see the remains of a causeway built by the Irish giant, Finn MacCool, according to popular Irish folklore.
Of all the Irish traditions, this can be the most perplexing to tourists. Just imagine: you’re sitting in a pub with a pint of the black stuff because it’s bucketing down outside. This means you’re sitting in a pub with a pint of Guinness because it’s raining heavily outside! Confused? Don’t be. Spend an evening with a bunch of locals and you’ll soon pick up the lingo. Here are some popular slang words to remember if you visit Ireland:
Aye – Yes
Gas – Something funny
Grand – Good/great/fine
Coddin’ ya – I’m only joking/kidding
Knackered – Very tired
Fella – a man of any age
Yer one – when referring to someone you don’t know: e.g. ‘Yer one over in the corner’
Yonks – a long time
These Irish traditions only help to make a trip to Ireland an unforgettable experience! Ready to discover the culture, traditions and landscapes of the Emerald Isle? Visit our official website: