People & Culture
The Irish culture has taken thousands of years to develop, so cherish every moment of your cultural discovery
Did you know?
The Irish love traditions. So much so, in fact, that the country is full of them – from eating colcannon (a mixture of cabbage and mashed potatoes) on Halloween to wearing something green on St. Patrick’s Day. Two of the most enduring and internationally famed, however, are traditional music and Irish dancing. Northern Ireland also has its own unique Ulster-Scots culture, which is prevalent throughout the counties and is often expressed through music and dance. The Lambeg Drum, fiddle, fife and flute are just some of the melodic accompaniments to sessions of Highland Dancing, Scottish Country Dancing, Ulster-Scots Square and Country Dancing. And with Ulster-Scots cultural events springing up all over the place, you can watch from the sidelines or give it a whirl yourself.
The pub lies at the heart of cultural, social and musical life in Ireland. Not just places to have a drink, in an Irish pub you can philosophize on the meaning of life, ruminate on global politics, listen to a poetry reading, tap your feet to a traditional session, feast on delicious food or just enjoy the quiet settling of a pint of Guinness in front of a crackling fire. Sit at the bar if you fancy chatting to the locals, or hole yourself up in one of the old snugs – private little spaces, which were historically designed just for the ladies.
The Irish love a good excuse for a party. The country is legendary for its “craic”, and “fleadhs“, festivals and fairs are a massive part of cultural life whether it’s the gastronomic delights of the Kinsale Gourmet Festival or the high-brow Dublin Theatre Festival. If you’re looking for something unique then head to the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. It’s Europe’s biggest singles event. Puck Fair in Kerry, where a goat is crowned king, is well worth a trip, while the Ould Lammas Fair in North Antrim draws crowds from across the globe.
The Irish like to think that Celtic blood flows through the veins of all the great and the good. Among those we are proud to call our own are John F. Kennedy, Davy Crockett, Gene Kelly, Grace Kelly and Ned Kelly, too. On St. Patrick’s Day, though, everyone’s Irish. So don your green and enjoy one of the many St. Patrick’s Day festivals around the world.
The Irish accent is famed the world over for its romantic and lyrical lilt, but it’s not until you actually get to Ireland that you realize how different the language around the country can be. To start with, in the Republic of Ireland (except for counties Monaghan and Donegal) Hiberno-English is spoken, while in Ulster the form of English is called mid-Ulster English. But the real key is the speed in which the words come out – so listen carefully!
As a race, we’re proud of the Irish language. So proud that the Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Minister passed regulations that decree only the Gaelic versions of place names and street signs are to be used in the Gaeltacht – any region where the Irish language is officially the major language. Just be sure to bring a map with you when traveling. And to make things a little more interesting, in the North of Ireland, Ullans is spoken. This beautiful language is a unique form of Scots/Irish and is peculiar to the Ulster region.