If you’re thinking of visiting Ireland soon, there are some things you should know before you come over that will make your trip all the more enjoyable. Some of these are just fair warning so you’re not caught off guard. Others are cultural norms that will help you to fit in with the locals better while you’re here. Overall, knowing about these ahead of time will help you make the most of your tour of Ireland.
In our opinion, you’ll really make the most of your trip if you have a passionate local expert guiding your way. From tales and stories to navigating and driving, having a local guide means you can relax and get so much more out of your Ireland experience. Take a look at our small group tours of Ireland to see the fun we like to have. And just get in touch if you’ve got any questions at all!
While we are not fans of homework, these are some things you should know before taking a tour of Ireland. Study up and then come on over to experience the Emerald Isle!
1. Irish people are genuinely friendly
You might find it a little odd that strangers will greet you with a smile and a ‘Howya’ on the street. We are very open and always keen to meet new people, listen to their stories and — of course — tell our own. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a local when you arrive. You might make new friends and it could be a perfect excuse to come back to Ireland again!
2. Ireland has some very small roads
In Ireland, we have some of the most windy roads in the world, but they will take you to the best places. If you’re trying to navigate these narrow twists and turns on your own, just take your time and try not to get too stressed out.
For American visitors especially, we always recommend you leave the driving to the locals. It’s the wrong side of the road for you and we know that can get confusing!
Our driver guides expertly manoeuvre their vehicles down botharíns (narrow country roads). That’s also why we only take small group tours, to make it easy for them to drive the mini-buses to all the hidden gems along the way. To help you decide, we wrote a guide to help you see if you should take a road trip through Ireland or leave the driving to someone else.
3. The weather in Ireland is…wild!
When you’re planning your tour of Ireland, prepare for all kinds of weather – even in summer. We have to recommend that everyone brings sunglasses, suncream and a raincoat for their tour. We can experience all 4 seasons in one day here in Ireland. The good news is that, when it is raining, sunshine is never far behind! This explains why we have such a lush green countryside.
4. Know our Irish greetings
We do not greet people with ‘Top of the morning to you!’. A simple ‘Howya’ will do!
And a perfect response is ‘Grand thanks’. Whether you are in good, bad or middeling form ‘I’m Grand’ is a perfect response. Do not stop to give someone a blow by blow of your feelings if they say ‘Howya’ to you. They are just acknowledging you — like we do with a simple wave — but they are not interested in engaging in conversation!
5. There are 2 currencies in Ireland
We have two currencies in Ireland. The Euro is accepted in the Republic of Ireland while our cousins up North use the British Pound. Even though most places accept card and phone payments, it is a good idea to carry a small amount of cash when on your Irish tour. You might stumble upon a farmers market, strawberry sellers or even a man selling moonshine along your journey where they definitely won’t have a card machine!
6. Cursing is normal in Ireland
Do not be alarmed by the level of swearing you might hear in Ireland. Irish people may pepper their sentences with a few choice ‘bad words’ but they are mostly used to embellish a story or in jest. Please do not take offence! Being called a ‘Feckin’ Eejit’ is actually a nice way of calling someone a clown!
7. The food in Ireland will surprise you!
Tourists traditionally have not come to Ireland for the food, but boy are you in for a treat. Over the past couple of years, Ireland’s food and craft beverage scene has taken off. Chefs are foraging, sourcing local produce, reducing distances from farm to plate, and — of course — fishing for the finest seafood on earth.
Every day on tour, you can treat yourself to amazing lunches and fantastic dining experiences. If you join Overland Ireland for a tour of Ireland, your local guide will be there to recommend the very best places at each stop. All dietary requirements can be catered for. We also recommend you pair your food with some local craft beers, whiskeys and gin.
There is something for every budget and taste, whether it is fish and chips by the beach or a Michelin Star restaurant, we have it all on this tiny island.
8. Ireland is famous for the Great Outdoors
Most places of interest for visitors to Ireland are in the great outdoors. No need for social distancing in Ireland; there is plenty of space for everyone!
Every day you will breathe in the wonderful Irish fresh air from the Atlantic and feel alive embracing nature and the historical sites of Ireland. Just take a look at our guide on where to see Ireland’s best scenery for some inspiration!
9. Know about our local languages
Irish or Gaelic is our official language in Ireland. There are parts of Ireland called ‘Gaeltacht’ areas where Gaelic is the daily spoken language. These are in Kerry, Galway, Donegal, Cork and Meath. You should absolutely visit or pass through a couple of these places on tour! Maybe you’ll get a chance to practise what you learn from your Overland Ireland tour guide on unsuspecting locals. They will be suitably impressed if you greet them in their native tongue!
Want to get started early? Check out our Gaelic on the Go!
10. Know about tipping in Ireland
While we are not as generous at tipping as our friends across the pond in the US, tipping is still important in Ireland. The big difference is that you only tip if you are happy with the service. Our wages are better in the service industry here, but tips are welcomed by staff in hotels and restaurants if they are doing their best to make sure you have a great time.
We don’t tip after every drink in a bar but, again, if you are feeling a bit generous after a great night, they would certainly be delighted with a few Euros or the price of a pint when they clock off work! You never know…you might even be invited to stay for a lock in!
11. Bonus: The last thing you need to know about Ireland
Leprechauns are real!
Come join us to search for leprechauns in Ireland. We’d be delighted to show you around. Get in touch and let’s start planning your adventure!