When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Ireland avoid doing all those things that the Irish commonly associate with the more unwelcome tourists - those belittling Ireland, those glorifying violence and those suffering from a bad case of "foot-in-mouth disease". Or those which seem to have left common sense at home.
Here is my list of the top "Don'ts" in Ireland - things to avoid. In order to really enjoy your vacation. And be welcome back at any time.
1. Don't Forget the Basic Rule of Driving on the Left
© Bernd Biege 2014
Every year tourists are involved in major, sometimes fatal, accidents - simply because they are driving on the wrong side of the road. It cannot be emphasized enough: Drive on the left!
But pedestrians should also remember that the first car likely to hit them when they step out into the road ... will come from the right!
2. Don't Drink in Public Places or If You are Under 18
© Bernd Biege 2014
Drinking in parks, in other public areas or on beaches is forbidden nearly everywhere in Northern Ireland and more than often in the Republic. Do not risk a hefty fine, pleading ignorance of general and local alcohol laws in Ireland
does not always help. Especially not if they are sign-posted. And remember that enjoying alcohol is limited to adults (18 years or over) only.
4. Don't Wax Lyrical About the Romance of Civil War
Frankly said: The Irish, both North and South, had enough experience of body parts flying through smoke-blackened streets and gunshot wounds in children. They know what the reality of the Irish "Troubles" is (or was)
. It is not romantic. Think about it.
5. Don't Forget to Get Your Round in
The system of drinking with friends (however recent or loosely defined) in Ireland's pubs
is simple - if you are four people, than A gets the first round, B the second, C the third and D the fourth. As long as you observe this rule and "get your round in" nobody will call you a mean, stingy foreigner.
6. Don't Endlessly Compare
Yes, we all know that the autobahn
is better in Germany, the cuisine
is tastier in France, the sun is shinier in Australia, mate, and everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. But this is Ireland
. Enjoy it as it is. Do not bore everyone to tears with endless comparisons that only indicate you'd rather be at home.
7. Don't Expect Your Home Comforts in an Irish Setting
Despite the onslaught of globalization (led by Gap, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, River Island and Starbucks), Ireland still is a "foreign country". With its own brands, chain-stores, local foods
. Do not expect to find everything you have at home.
8. Don't Try to See Everything
Unless you have a few weeks or months for your vacation, do not attempt to see everything in your guidebook. Ireland has too much to offer to cram it all into a few days. Take your pick of the best attractions of Ireland
when planning your Irish vacation
. Follow your own interests for the best choice.
9. Don't Expect a Mythological Ireland
If you were to travel to the mid-western states of the USA, would you expect to see the buffaloes roam and Indians on the war-path? Then why do so many visitors to Ireland expect red-haired, freckled colleens
dancing at the crossroads, accompanied by Celtic warriors on tin-whistles? Ireland is a modern country with historic roots - but it has traffic jams, pollution and industrial estates. Don't be put off by those, just don’t expect the Disney-fied Ireland of the more saccharine movies
10. Don't Hurry
When an Irishman was asked to translate mañana
, he said that he could think of no term conveying such urgency. You will have to take your time to find the "real" Ireland beyond the tourist attractions and tourist traps
. And you will be thankful you did - trust me!