Local traditions and culture in Ireland

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Ireland

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    by DAO Written Oct 25, 2012

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    Londonderry or Derry? As you approach a city with seemingly 2 names – you will see small sample of the battles south of the border even here. There are many signs on the motorways (highways) and roads across Northern Ireland trying to tell you the direction and/or how many miles to drive to arrive at the second largest city in Northern Ireland (and the 4th largest city on the Irish Island). On this side of the open border you will see signs in kilometres for the city in either Gaelic (Doire) of both Gaelic and English (Derry). And even an old road sign from before Irish independence in 1919 shows the official name of Londonderry in Muff. And just to show you the debate that still continues - you can see where paint has been put on the 'London' part of the sign. And removed - partially.

    If you are Catholic – you will call the city ‘Derry’. If you are Protestant (over the border) you will call it ‘Londonderry’. As I was driving along on BOTH sides of the border I saw most road signs with the LONDON part spray painted out. Even just when it said L’Derry – the ‘L’ was painted out. Fair play to vandals of a Protestant background. I saw a few signs where DERRY was painted out and I seemed to be driving toward London itself.

    And then there were the ultimate signs- both names painted out across the border. Both names painted out.

    The battle of Nowhere won!

    At least, given the death and pain, today the battle are with a spray can of paint, not an assault rifle in a crowd of civilians.

    If you would like some history – here it is!

    The official name of the city is Londonderry. Originally it was a village called Doire meaning ‘oak wood’ or ‘oak grove’ in Gaelic. In 1613, King James I granted the now city a Royal Charter and added ‘London’ when all of Ireland was part of an English, later United Kingdom. Interestingly the County Londonderry in which it resides in existed with the full name first. The County was created (there was never a ‘County Derry’) in reference to the London Livery Companies of the Irish Society. This was a venture that pioneered the colonisation of Northern Ireland.

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    Dublin Tourism Center

    by Goner Updated Apr 4, 2011

    The Statue of Molly Malone stands outside the Dublin Tourism Center on Suffolk Street at the heart of Dublin's city center. This tourist office was one time St. Andrew's Church. Besides finding accomodations and information on Dublin, there is a great Tourist literature and book shop which is open all year round.

    While waiting for your enquiry number to be called, the visitor can relax in Fionn McCools Sandwich Bar.

    address: Suffolk Street, Dublin 2

    For other Dublin Tourist offices, check on the website listed below.

    Tart and the Cart
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    Molly Malone - the "tart with the cart"

    by globetrott Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    "Sweet Moly Malone" is one of the best-known songs by the "Dubliners" and other folk-bands, and everybody seems to know and to love Molly Malone, whose sculpture you can see in the centre of Dublin, in Suffolkstreet, close to Trinity College. Molly was living in Dublin of the 17th century - it is mainly a ledgend, you may read more about it , when you click on my link below !
    Molly Malone traded fish from her wheel barrow during the day and was working as a pr*stitute during the night. She caught a fever and died much too young...
    In Dublin’s fair city,
    Where the Girls are so pretty,
    I first set my eyes,
    On sweet Molly Malone,
    As she wheeled her wheel barrow,
    Through the streets broad and narrow,
    Crying cockles and mussels,
    Alive alive o!

    Alive alive o!
    Alive alive o!
    Crying "cockles and mussels!!",
    Alive alive o!

    She was a fish monger,
    And sure it was no wonder,
    For so were her
    Father and Mother before,
    And they both wheeled their barrow,
    Through the streets broad and narrow,
    Crying "cockles and mussels!!",
    Alive alive o!

    Alive alive o!
    Alive alive o!
    Crying cockles and mussels,
    Alive alive o!

    She died of a fever,
    And no one could save her,
    And that was the end
    Of sweet Molly Malone,
    But her ghost wheels her barrow,
    Through the streets broad and narrow,
    Crying "cockles and mussels !!",
    Alive alive o!

    Molly Malone - the
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    by tini58de Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Whereas matchmaking is legally forbidden in Germany, they still do have it in Ireland!! Well, it is not to be taken too seriously, but in Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, they have a Matchmaking Festival each year from September 1 - October 1! Basically there is a lot of dancing and partying going on then, but you might want to try your luck and ask one of the local matchmakers!

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    Smirting & The Smoking Ban

    by orlikins Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Smirting is a combination of the words smoking + flirting, geddit? It started when people had to go out for a ciggie after the ban was enforced, and got chatting to fellow smokers outside on the street, eyes meeting across a cloud of blue nicotine... ;) So you may just meet a local hottie in this way!!

    REMEMBER - Since March 2004, you CANNOT smoke inside bars, cafes or restaurants, or anywhere where people are working (e.g. taxis, offices etc.)
    The legislation is officially known as the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, see link to it below for a summary.

    You may smoke in outside in the street or in designated smoking areas, but never inside a place where people are working (includes offices, bars, restaurants, shops, shopping centres, taxis, etc)

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    Pubs: Have a Cup of Tea

    by donpaul77 Updated Mar 11, 2010

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    It's perfectly acceptable to order a cup of tea in a pub in Ireland, particularly in the afternoon. This is nice if you are driving and sightseeing, and want to visit pubs without feeling like you have to drink a pint every time.

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  • donpaul77's Profile Photo

    Shhh! Someone is singing!

    by donpaul77 Written Mar 11, 2010

    When someone starts to sing a song in a pub, everyone gets quiet. The musical tradition is very strong in Ireland and song is perhaps respected above all. When there is a traditional Irish music session going on in a quiet pub, people will generally keep the conversation at a lower volume, as people do want to here the music, rather than try to talk over it. Don't be offended if if you get shushed :)

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  • sourbugger's Profile Photo

    Always make that connection...

    by sourbugger Written Nov 4, 2009

    The irish just love making a connection between Ireland and anything that is happening in the world - there always seems to be an Irish connection somewhere. Whilst President Obama's roots would appear more african than celtic a strong case has been made for some of is ancestors hailing from County Offlay.

    A more tenuous recent example is the claim of the Caherragin Village choir. They claim that they have a recording (locked in a bank vault) of Michael Jackson singing with them on a charity Christmas single. The song is that Irish anthem 'the fields of Athenry'. If they can prove it was Whackos last recording ever made then it could be worth a cool 20 million euro. That should keep the choir solvent for about the next eight thousand years !

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    by DAO Updated Mar 9, 2009

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    Local Customs - get it? Go over your import limits and you will. In 1999, the sale of duty-free goods to those travelling within the European Union (EU) was abolished. Having said that, there are still limits on how much duty (tax) paid items you can bring into Ireland. They are fairly generous and change from time to time, so please consult the website below. For those of you coming to Ireland from outside the EU, the restrictions are tight whether you paid tax on them or not! In general they are:

    * Cigarettes 200 –or- Cigarillos 100 –or- Cigars 50 –or- Tobacco 250 grams
    * Spirits (whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.) 1 litre – OR Intermediate Products (e.g. sherry, port, sparkling wine, etc.) 2 litres
    * Still wine 4 litres
    * Beer 16 litres
    * Other goods (e.g. gifts, souvenirs, perfume, clothing, etc.) €430 per adult, €215 per child under 15 years

    Yep, it pays to take kids with you to Ireland.

    Money: Since 2007 if you are entering or leaving the European Union with €10,000 or more in cash you must declare it. This includes things like Traveller’s Cheques and other similar financial instruments.

    Prohibited or severely restricted goods:

    Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and fireworks, Offensive weapons
    Indecent or obscene material (books, periodicals, prints and video recordings)
    Plants or bulbs
    Live animals or dead animals (including cats and dogs)
    Birds, poultry or eggs
    Endangered species
    Meat and meat products, milk and milk products, and certain foodstuffs (with specific exceptions)
    Hay or straw (even if used as packing).

    When in doubt – leave it out!

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  • sourbugger's Profile Photo

    The main cause of traffic delays

    by sourbugger Written Feb 23, 2009

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    Traffic reports in rural ireland have a distinctively religious flavour to them. Take a typical report I heard on Galway Bay FM the other day :

    "There will be Solemn Novena said all week at differeing times - so expect delays around the cathedral area. There are also funerals in lackagh and Claregalway tonight, so delays are expected on the N17". Not a word about breakdowns, roadworks or accidents.

    Therefore, it is fair to say that the main cause of traffic delays (and the loss of millions of man-hours from the Irish economy) is : The Roman Catholic Church !

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    What to do with an excess....of.....milk

    by sourbugger Updated Nov 7, 2008

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    It is something of a truism that in many parts of the world you end up with an excess of some sort of foodstuff. If is not surprising, therefore, that excess apples become Scrumpy / Cider, excess Pears become Calvados and excess potatoes become Vodka. I'm sure there are countless other examples as well.

    And what do we have an excess of in Ireland ? (apart from rain)....Milk...gallons of the stuff.

    It was only in 1974 that the now world-famous brand was invented. The distilling company also owned a dairy...and in a great bit of lateral thinking, Bailey's was born. It got the name from a bar in Dublin that the inventors often frequented in the course of the drink's development.

    Legend has it that the drink became known across the world by the company liberally plying every Air Lingus Stewardess they could find with the stuff. If anyone is going to sing the drinks' merits it would be a drunk Irishwoman !

    Rich and creamy....a bit of a girly drink...but a very comforting tipple if you'r feeling a bit low.

    Baileys  - the cream
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    Irreverant humour

    by sourbugger Updated Nov 7, 2008

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    You may think that 'borat' is irreverant, but just wait until you see the best thing produced by RTE in years.

    Rodge and Podge now have a TV chat show. These identical twins are aged (so says the website) 54, but they always look the same age to me. Possibly because they are puppets (there, I said it, the secret is out) and can thus get away with 'Blue Murder'. On a programme I watched they interviewed Jonny Logan (the Eurovision winner) and made him identify a range of weird and wonderful condoms in a game called 'Here's johnney...' The guest responded by saysing that "He had sung for the Pope you know". I think Podge commented that they would make the Pope play the same game if he came on the show !

    The typical show will have a couple of guests, and some novelty acts. The show will normally be opened in some self-deprecating way like "Let's see what pile of S***E we have on tonight". It tends to go downhill from there.

    Here are a couple of excerpts from their biographies of the RTE website :

    podge :

    Childhood activities: Pick pocketing, taxidermy and thieving from dead people.

    Sex life and moral beliefs: A professional pervert.

    Rodge :

    Religious background and current religious beliefs: Altar boy for the Church of Satan.

    Hobbies: Ladies bicycle saddle collecting, Monkey collecting-he has all 160 species of primate in the attic. Other hobbies include Dolphin shooting, cat shooting, dog shooting, shooting in general.

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    A sense of community

    by sourbugger Written Nov 7, 2008

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    I was passing through some little town somewhere near Roscommon the other day and came across an up to date version of a very old idea. A articulated truck was kitted out to become a travelling cinema. It seated 100 in comfort and played the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

    I guess the sense of a 'shared occasion' is still important in the community. No matter that most modern irish houses would probably seat more than a cinema full of people in comfort and have a similar size screen.

    I think it's a great idea - so much more cosy than the American styled multiplexes.

    This film really did fall off the back of a truck.

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    by lbhspatriot Written Sep 21, 2008

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    Not satisfied with Honeymoon? There is one more globaly known event the Irish invented. Yes, Hallooween!
    The earliest celebrations of Halloween were among the Celtic who lived in the areas which are now Ireland, Great Britain and Northern France.

    The Celts worshiped the Sun God and believed that without him, they would not live. But they also worshipped Samhain who was the lord of the dead and of the cold, dark winter season. They believed that on October 31 Samhain would call together all of the dead and these souls would take on the shape of an animal. They believed that all creatures wandered the Earth on that night. This was called the Vigil of Samhain.

    The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
    Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Celtic people feared the evening of October 31 more than any other day of the year.
    They expected that evening evil spirits were everywhere, charms and spells were said to have more power on the eve of Samhain. The Druids, or Celtic priests, would build fires on the hilltops in belief that the large fires would help to strengthen the Sun God, and give him power enough to overcome the lord of darkness so that the sun season could continue. They believed that the fires were sacred, therefore they burned dried crops and sacrificed animals to help strengthen the Sun God as they would perform ceremonies through the night to ask the spirits to tell the future of the upcoming year.

    In the 7th century the church celebrated All Saint's Day in May but by the 9th century the date had been changed to November 1. The original festival for the pagen Lord of the Dead became a festival of Christain dead. Still, people went on expecting the arrival of ghosts on October 31.
    Another name for All Saint's Day was All Hollow's which later became shortened to Hallowe'en.

    Today in Ireland and all around the world children dress up in costume and tick or treat, the only night when witches and ghosts can be seen.

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    by lbhspatriot Written Sep 21, 2008

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    Did you know that Honeymoon was invented in Ireland? Well, at least the name for it was."
    "The word for honey is meala in Irish. The word for honeymoon is mi na meala, the month of honey, and refers to how the bride and groom spend that period of time.
    Irish monks first produced the fermented honey brew called mead for medicinal purposes, then found it could make well people feel even better.
    Following the wedding, a sufficient amount of mead was given to the bride and groom, along with special goblets, so they could share the unique brew for one full moon after their wedding, that is how the term honeymoon was coined. It was believed that this delicate yet potent drink was the best way to ensure a good beginning for a new marriage, and was also believed to endow powers of virility and fertility."
    Smart people those Irish monks,huh?

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