As long as there's conviviality in the air, and a "round" on its way, the Irish will forgive almost any faux pas. The weather, however, is less forgiving. Here are our staff's tips for making your trip to Ireland unforgettable (in a good way).
- Get off the beaten track. For every site attracting throngs of visitors, such as the Cliffs of Moher, there’s an equally impressive one, like Slieve League, Donegal, with just the wind and/or rain for company.
- Get a round in at the pub - even if your fellow drinkers haven’t finished the one they’re on. The easiest way to lose new friends in Ireland is to be tightfisted at the pub.
- Take waterproof clothing. Umbrellas are pretty useless when you’re battling against horizontal rain.
- Reuse your plastic bags. The Republic’s hugely successful scheme has cut plastic bag consumption by 90% since 2002.
- Learn a couple of words of Gaeilge (Irish) – dia duit (dee-ah gwit; hello) is always useful, as is Ní ólfaidh mé go brách arís(knee ohl-hee mey gu brawkh u-reeshch; I’m never ever drinking again).
- Be offended if people start gently making fun of you. "Slagging", as it’s known, is almost a national pastime and the more someone likes you the more slagging you should expect.
- Ask people if they’ve ever seen a leprechaun - they won’t have. Don’t say "begorrah" - they’ll just shake their heads. And be sure not to say "to be sure".
- Worry about your liver too much. Alcohol oils the famous sociability of the Irish and refusing a drink will have the same effect as asking about leprechauns.
- Criticise Ireland. The Irish can find something or other wrong with just about every aspect of their country (the Church, the economy and politicians being the biggest bugbears) but don’t appreciate outsiders doing the same.
- Look horrified at the prices of things in the South. Eating out in particular can be very expensive but quality has improved massively in recent years and now dishes generally offer value-for-(a lot of)-money. However many restaurants are trying to ride these tricky economic times by offering cheaper deals on weekdays, so be on the lookout.
The Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook can send you off the beaten track or into the finest pub. Its full-colour sections on Irish culture, food and drink, and outdoor activities will have you itching to make your way to the Emerald Isle.
Think you can manage a tongue-twister or two? The Lonely Planet Irish Language & Culture travel guide will challenge and entertain - to be sure!