Tipping in Ireland is like an arcane art mastered by only a few enlightened individuals. The rest of us mere mortals will have to just fumble along. Here are some pointers in the right direction.
Generally there are three options, outlined on the menu.
- "A Service Charge of x % will apply" - this means what it says, your final bill will be subject to an additional charge; no further tips are necessary.
- "Service included" - this means that the prices are a flat rate, no tips are required and the prices are final.
- If none of these apply personnel will usually expect a tip of around ten to fifteen percent.
In general no tips are expected. They are welcome nonetheless and for excellent or unusual services a few Euros (the classic "fiver", a five Euro note) are appropriate.
Again tips are not really expected but no taxi driver will object if you ask him to round the bill a bit.
If you try to tip the personnel in a pub you'll more than likely earn an incredulous stare - it simply is not done. The invitation to "have one for yourself" is a way around this.
Cafes and Bistros
Most of these will have a bowl or other receptacle near the cash register, complete with a subtle reminder that tips are appreciated. These then usually are made up of some loose change.
Many shops and cafes have one or more collection boxes near the cash register, soliciting alms for some charity or other good cause. Especially in rural areas proffered tips are often redirected towards these boxes.
And finally ...
... the cardinal rule of "Play it by Ear" applies. You will find that quite a few Irish pride themselves in delivering a service for the sake of it, not for an additional tip. I had delivery men refuse a "fiver", despite them really having to go out of their way. "Oh, it's just part of my job," was the friendly reply. On the other hand a waitress in a restaurant once was visibly taken aback when I pocketed all my change and left no tip. She seemed to find this unreasonable despite having just knocked a beer over, spilling it on me. And charging for it without even offering a replacement.