Irish culture goes far beyond the borders of this tiny island country. We accept some of the Irish traditions, adopt others, and still can’t get enough of the rich and fun culture of Ireland.
Irish Culture: Music, Pubs, Saint Patrick’s Day, and More
If you are like me, often you travel to new countries just to get inside look at their cultures. Last year one of such destinations for me was Ireland. Always fascinated by history of Ireland, the Irish culture further intrigued me after reading a few books and watching a whole lot of movies filmed in Ireland. But the culture I experienced during my four days on the Emerald Isle superseded all my expectations. Moreover, this trip showed me how little I knew 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 visitors.
IRISH CULTURE ELEMENTS THAT MAKE US SO FOND OF IRELAND:
Sweeping Hills and Stone Walls
Location shape cultures, wouldn’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 evergreen grass (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 their stone walls unintentionally. Ireland is naturally very stony and in order to farm the land one needed to first clear it of the stones. 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 and serve to 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, 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 fairy trees.
Even kids know that Ireland is home to leprechauns, mischievous little bearded men, wearing coats and hats. Certainly, these fairytale creatures make shoes and hide pots of gold at the end of the rainbow only in Irish folklore nowadays. However, they never slips 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 became 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 signature drinks.
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 are, in their turn, responsible for forty shades of green.
Irish Cuisine Filled with Stews and Potato Dishes
Although an integral part of the Irish culture, stews and potato dishes appeared on the Irish tables out of necessity. For centuries Ireland was scarcely 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 amount of people. Today 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 bright colors.
Another tale says that the Irish women painted the doors of their houses in bright colors mostly red so their drunk husbands wouldn’t mistake other homes for their own.
Irish Traditional Music
The Irish culture can’t exist without Irish traditional music. For centuries, these folk tunes have rejoiced their listeners. Originally, the traditional music kept passing on from generation to generation by listening and learning by ear. Today students are also 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 traditional tunes… Irish pubs integrated and 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 doubts about Irish origins of Saint Patrick’s Day. It was created to honer Saint Patrick who, as the Irish believe, banished snakes from Ireland and taught the locals about the Trinity. But not many know that Halloween also originated in Ireland. It reached the shore of North America with Irish immigrants and eventually was adopted by the new 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 amount of the Irish redheads is very low. However, compared with the rest of the world, Ireland has the highest per capita percentage of the redheads. The Irish owe their red hair to the Celtic genes. The pale skin came as an adaptation to less sunlight.
Narrow Rural Roads
Driving on Irish roads is quite an experience itself. 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. But be sure to give yourself time to practice first.