Ireland & Irish Culture
The reputation of the "Friendly Irish" is not a myth and it is quite normal to be greeted by an Irish person with a friendly smile.
You will nearly always find a hand outstretched with the greeting "how are you?" Your answer to this could very well be the same "how are you?"
Without any doubt, pubs are the main places for socialising in Ireland especially in the small towns (which are numerous in Ireland).
You can drink there, eat there, dance there, listen to a group of musicians or join in a sing-song.
Food in pubs, known as "pub grub" is generally good and the prices are reasonable. It is a good place for meetings and conversations.
The young and not so young enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere in an Irish pub.
They are generally comfortable and cordial places. The official closing time for the pubs is midnight!
Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland states that the national language of the country is Gaelic, but it is spoken as a first language by a minority of people only, mainly in government-defined Gaeltacht regions of the country. Although deemed to be the country's second official language, English is the most commonly spoken language. Despite government efforts to rekindle interest in the Irish language, less than 5% of the population use it on a daily basis and a minority of people speak Irish as a second language. Gaelic is obligatory in Irish schools and currently there is a renewed interest in the language.
Find out in conversation!!
St Patrick's Day
The national holiday in Ireland is March 17th - St Patrick's Day. This annual celebration is marked by parades and festivities in cities and towns across Ireland, and it is celebrated too by the Irish diaspora in every corner of the world. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and he is credited with teaching the Irish the concept of the Trinity, by showing people the shamrock and using it to outline the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'. The shamrock is one of the national emblems of Ireland and is worn with great pride on March 17th.
The leprechaun is a mischievous character in Irish mythology. Depicted as a little man, no more than 75cm tall, a leprechaun was a fairy type being in emerald green clothing with a little pointy hat on his head. He was said to be very rich, with a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow. However, he was also extremely tricky and sly and whenever captured by a human, had the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for release. Reputedly, when captured a leprechaun would say something to distract his captor and, as soon as he caught them off-guard, would promptly disappear, resulting in nobody ever finding the elusive pot of gold.
No visit to Ireland is complete without purchasing your very own take home leprechaun souvenir!
Ireland has a particularly efficient educational system. School is obligatory from six to fifteen years and the system is made up of 3 levels:
- Primary education (5-12 years) - free
- Secondary education (12-18 years) - free
- Third level - College / University
The Irish climate is an oceanic climate, with a dominant influence from the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, Ireland does not suffer from the extremes of temperature experienced by many other countries at similar latitude.
Temperatures in Irish weather do not vary much and range from an average of 4 - 7C in January and between 14 and 16C in July. The climate is generally wet, which explains the dominant green colours of the landscape.
The geographical situation of Ireland was always a significant barrier to development as the principal markets are subject to significant transport costs. However, with the help of the European Union there has been a great improvement in the infrastructures of the country. Another element which continues to aid the economic development is the tax advantages enjoyed by international companies setting up in Ireland.