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.
And run into the occasional surprise - from a blanket refusal to take a tip to actually getting "tipped" yourself, or so it seems.
Here are some pointers in the right direction. Though one can safely say that there are no hard and fast rules.
In Irish restaurants, you will generally find one of three options, already outlined on the menu for your convenience:
- "A Service Charge of x % (or € x) will apply" - this means what it says, your final bill will be subject to an additional charge for service. Whether you want it or not. No further tips are necessary.
- "Service included" - this means that the prices are a flat rate and that the owner has factored in a decent wage for his serving staff (actually, Ireland has a legally binding minimal wage). In theory, at least. No tips are required and the prices are final. Strictly speaking.
- If none of these apply ... personnel will usually expect a tip of around ten to fifteen percent. Or a round-up to the nearest (sensible) amount payable in "the folding stuff" (starting with the € 5 note).
Hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs
Irish accommodation providers 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, comes in handy) are appropriate.
Again tips are not really expected but no taxi driver, especially in the cities, will object if you ask him to round the bill up 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. An acceptable answer to this would be "Don't mind if I'll be having it later, do you?" With the bar person pocketing the money instead of getting plastered.
Cafés 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 cafés 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.
And you may also run into the tradition of "luck money", mostly with tradesmen - they'll charge you the agreed price, say a fifty Euros, and when you hand over two twenties and a tenner they'll press a Euro coin back into your hand. This, in theory, will ensure follow-on business and keep the relationship ever-so-slightly above the purely mercenary.
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.