By Chas Ellis
WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! You’re studying in or visiting Dublin! Time to throw caution and learning to the wind and drink all day! Just kidding, what is wrong with you? As Americans we are wired to assume we are right in all matters and learn nothing about other cultures. You may be thinking, “Ugh, I don’t wanna research Irish things. Reading is boring and the Internet has every movie ever on it for free.” Fair point, which is why I have created the official* guide on all the things you need to know before heading to the Emerald Isle (poetic name for Ireland). Look, you guys are learning already. I lived there for several months and loved it like a small puppy, so listen to my words.
- Get ready to meet and chat with strangers constantly
The Irish people love casual chats at the bar almost more than the alcohol itself. They love getting to hear stories from other people and telling countless ones of their own, so don’t be intimidated if you are approached. We met our local best friends because we asked them to take a picture, and then they proceeded to chat us up and join the rest of the night’s festivities. Be careful not to ask anything to personal however, as these chats are always fun and casual.
- Master the bus system
You will definitely want to walk around the city to get your bearings at first, but it is also very large and no one wants to take taxis everywhere. Dublin has a terrific bus system that runs very frequently to most places you need it to. You will have it down pat in no time once you’ve ridden around a bit. I still remember taking the 39A every day.
- Be careful in Temple Bar
Temple Bar is an awesome area to go see when you first explore Dublin, but I would recommend not spending too much time in the area. It is a huge tourist trap with massive prices, crafty pickpockets, and unsavory locals. Check it out, but there are many better areas throughout the city.
- You have to experience the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. You can walk along the edge the whole way and get some unreal views. When the wind blows right, it will blow up sea foam into the air and you will feel emotions about it. They are located a few hours outside of Dublin, but many companies will run day trips there bundled with a tour of the Ring of Kerry which is a beautiful loop through the Irish countryside. A must see for anyone in Ireland.
- Get in touch with the slang
The Irish have a lot of little phrases you will pick up, but I thought I would list a few.
- Craic is Gaelic for fun. You will often hear “Any Craic?” or “How’s the Craic?”
- You will constantly hear “Who’s your man?” or “Your man came in the other day and…” This doesn’t mean someone associated with you necessarily. It’s a general term like “that person” or “this person.”
- Bolloxed is slang for tired, derived from the word Bollocks, meaning things are bad.
- If someone asks you “Any joy?”, they are asking if you have had any adult sleepovers during your time in Ireland.
- The Irish also love to curse, particularly the C word, but the way they pronounce things almost makes it soothing.
- DO NOT ORDER AN IRISH CAR BOMB
While this is a delicious way to become intoxicated in the States, car bombs are a real threat in Northern Ireland and no one in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland finds it amusing. I had a friend who was almost beaten up by a group of people because of it. There is a great deal of tension in Ireland over the separation from Britain due to Protestantism that has been going on for hundreds of years. Many terrorists groups like the IRA exist because of it. If you can, avoid discussions about all of these topics while there as I have never seen one end cordially.
- Learn how to say Smithwick’s
Smithwick’s is a very popular beer in Ireland you will no doubt enjoy a few times. However be sure you pronounce it “Smit-icks.” The locals will appreciate your accuracy and you won’t look like a scrub to your pals.
**** BONUS ALCOHOL INFO EXPLOSION
You guys also need to try the two liter bottle of Balmers cider. It is amazing and only three euro. Then of course you must try the Guinness. It tastes worlds different there than any you’ve had before as it is brewed right down the street.
- Check out some Gaelic sports
Ireland still plays many of the ancient Gaelic sports that were created by the original natives of Ireland. They are so much fun and unlike anything else. If you get a chance to check out a hurling match, definitely jump on that opportunity. It’s like lacrosse, but with no pads and people occasionally get hit in the face with the stick. It’s great stuff.
There you have it. You are now ready to be fully embraced by the Irish people. I have been a lot of places after Ireland, but there is still nowhere I would rather go back to. Lastly, don’t throw bikes into the river. People do that and it’s stupid. Good Craic!