Irish culture goes far beyond the borders of this tiny island country. We accept some of Irish traditions, adopt a few, and yet still can’t get enough of the rich and fun culture of Ireland.
Last updated: December 1, 2021
Irish Culture: Music, Pubs, Saint Patrick’s Day, and More
If you are like me, often you travel to new countries just to get an insider’s look at different cultures. Last year one of such destinations for me was Ireland. I’ve always been fascinated by history of Ireland. The Irish culture has intrigued me, especially after I read a few books and watching a bunch of movies filmed in Ireland.
Yet the culture I experienced during my four-day trip to the Emerald Isle exceeded all my expectations. Moreover, this journey showed me how little I had known about the Irish culture. From Irish folk music and tales to traditional celebrations and drinks, Ireland and its unique culture always find home in the hearts of its locals and visitors.
IRISH CULTURE: THINGS THAT MAKE US SO FOND OF IRELAND
Sweeping Hills and Stone Walls
Locations shape cultures. Don’t you agree? In case of the Irish culture, it’s not just an assumption, it’s a fact. Endless pastures dotted with sheep grazing on evergreen hills (only in Ireland, more about it later) and short stone walls have been essential parts of the culture of Ireland for centuries.
Some say the Irish built these rocky barricades unintentionally. Ireland is naturally stony. In order to farm the land, the locals needed to remove the rocks that eventually were piled on top of each other. Slowly the short walls were erected. Others believe that the stone walls marked the territories owned by individual farmers.
Whatever was the reasons for these walls in the first place, the short stony fences lost their functionality. Today, they are purely decorative. Nevertheless, the peculiar walls never fail to ignite your curiosity and further increase your interest in the Irish culture.
I hardly know any cultures that didn’t rely on superstitions at some point. The Irish culture have outperformed all of them. While some of its old beliefs slowly die, the majority of the Irish still hold tight to their cultural myths and legends. Thus, up to this day the locals believe in lifelong bad luck for those who damage or cut down famous fairy trees.
Even kids know that Ireland is home to leprechauns, mischievous little bearded men that wear green coats and hats. Certainly, these fairytale creatures make shoes and hide pots full of gold at the end of a rainbow only in Irish folklore nowadays. Yet they never slip off from being an essential component of the Irish culture.
Guinness Beer and Irish Whiskey
You can forget about many elements of the Irish culture, but Guinness beer and Irish whiskey are not some of them. These traditional drinks have become the major experiences on their own. In fact, you can visit Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery Bow St. in Dublin to sample and learn all about these alcoholic drinks.
Irish Culture and Its Forty Shades of Green
Only Ireland with its almost never-ending rains teaches you how to differentiate all the shades of green. The large annual rainfall helps make Irish soil fertile, resulting in abundant vegetation. The Irish joke that Ireland has fifty shades of grey that, in their turn, are responsible for forty shades of green.
READ MORE: Forty Shades of Green: Ireland Photo Diary
Irish Cuisine Filled with Stews and Potato Dishes
Although integral parts of the Irish culture, stews and potato dishes appeared on Irish tables out of necessity. For centuries, Ireland was sparsely populated. Only after discovery of potatoes that could grow on harsh terrain, often unsuitable for other crops, the Irish could grow enough food to sustain a larger number of people. Today the potato dishes are the Irish’s favorite by choice.
Red Doors and Colorful Houses
Brightly-colored houses and doors definitely look very pleasing. But dive deeper and you’ll discover what role they played in the Irish culture.
For many years, Ireland was colonized by Britain. When Queen Victoria, also known as “famine queen” died, the Irish where ordered to paint their doors black in mourning. In rebellion, they painted the doors in the bright shades.
Another tale says that Irish women painted the doors of their houses in the vibrant colors, mostly red, so their drunk husbands wouldn’t mistake other homes for their own.
Traditional Music – an Integral Part of Irish Culture
The Irish culture can’t exist without its traditional music. These folk tunes have rejoiced the listeners for centuries. Originally, the traditional music kept passing on from generation to generation by listening and learning by ear. Even today students are encouraged to pick up the tunes by ear, although the use of formal notes and books is acceptable.
Cozy, noisy and loud, full of the locals, dancing and singing… The Irish pubs have adopted to the Irish culture so much that you can’t confuse them with any other pubs in the world.
The rich Irish culture presented to the world some of the biggest celebrations. Nobody have any doubt about the Irish origins of Saint Patrick’s Day. It was established to honer Saint Patrick who, as the Irish believe, banished snakes from Ireland and taught the locals about the Trinity.
Yet only a few know that Halloween also originated in Ireland. It reached the shores of North America with Irish immigrants and eventually was adopted by different countries.
Pale Skin and Red Hair
Just like the Irish pubs, the Irish are worldwide recognized by their pale skin and red hair. In reality, though, the number of the Irish redheads is very low. Yet compared with the rest of the world, Ireland has the highest per capita percentage of the redheads. The Irish owe the red hair to their Celtic genes. The pale skin came as an adaptation to less sunlight.
Narrow Rural Roads
Driving on Irish roads is quite an experience. In fact, for some travelers it’s one of the main reasons to visit Ireland and observe the Irish culture firsthand.
The narrow roads of Ireland can be a nerve-racking experience especially when sharing the road with another vehicle driving in the opposite direction. But as the Irish insist it’s not something you can’t master. Yet be sure to give yourself enough time to practice first.