Etiquette and Customs in Ireland

Meeting Etiquette

  • The basic greeting is a handshake and a hello or salutation appropriate for the time of day.
  • Eye contact denotes trust and is maintained during a greeting.
  • It is customary to shake hands with older children.
  • Greetings tend to be warm and friendly and often turn into conversations.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • In general, the Irish exchange gifts on birthdays and Christmas.
  • A gift need not be expensive. It is generally thought in giving something personal that counts.
  • If giving flowers, do not give lilies as they are used at religious festivities. Do not give white flowers as they are used at funerals.
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

Visiting a Home

  • If you are invited to an Irish home be on time (chances are food has been cooked and being late could spoil it)
  • Bring a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine for to the host.
  • Offer to help with clearing the dishes after a meal.
  • Table manners are relatively relaxed and informal.
  • The more formal the occasion, the stricter the protocol. When in doubt, watch what others are doing.
  • Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table, although your hands should remain visible and not be in your lap.

Meeting and Greeting

  • Irish businesspeople are generally less formal and more outwardly friendly than in many European countries.
  • Shake hands with everyone at the meeting.
  • Handshakes should be firm and confident.
  • Shake hands at the beginning and end of meetings.
  • Make sure to smile!
  • The Irish are generally rather casual and quickly move to first names.
  • Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions without formal ritual.
  • Many businesspeople do not have business cards, so you should not be offended if you are not offered one in return.

Communication Style
The Irish have turned speaking into an art form. Their tendency to be lyrical and poetic has resulted in a verbal eloquence. They use stories and anecdotes to relay information and value a well-crafted message. How you speak says a lot about you in Ireland.

The Irish appreciate modesty and can be suspicious of people who are loud and tend to brag. They dislike a superiority complex of any sort. So, for example, when discussing your professional achievements it is best to casually insert the information in short snippets during several conversations rather than embarking on a long self-centred outline of your successes.

Communication styles vary from direct to indirect depending upon who is being spoken to. There is an overall cultural tendency for people to view politeness as more important than telling the absolute truth. This means that you may not easily receive a negative response. When you are being spoken to, listen closely. A great deal may be implied, beyond what is actually being said. For example, if someone becomes silent before agreeing, they have probably said “no”. They may also give a non-committal response. This may be due to the fact that the Gaelic language does not have words for “yes” or “no”. There is a tendency to use understatement or indirect communication rather than say something that might be contentious.

Generally speaking they do not like confrontation and prefer to avoid conflict, which they attempt to avoid by being humorous and showing good manners.

(From: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/ireland.html)