10 Things to Avoid When Visiting Ireland

Ireland's Pastoral Grace
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Are there things you should not do in Ireland? You bet there are—from plain common sense (as in obeying the laws and the rules of the road) to some social faux pas you might want to avoid. In short: 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 a 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.

  • 01 of 10

    Don't Forget the Basic Rule of Driving on the Left

    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 said often 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! Worst result? Instant death.

  • 02 of 10

    Don't Drink in Public Places or If You are Under 18

    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. Worst result? A hefty penalty.

  • 03 of 10

    Don't Smoke in Enclosed Public or Workplaces

    Since May 2007, smoking has been banned from enclosed public places and workplaces all over Ireland. Do not break the law and risk a hefty fine. Please note that smoking in pubs is also forbidden despite those old pictures of romantically overflowing ashtrays next to the Guinness. Worst result? Again, a hefty penalty.

  • 04 of 10

    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. Worst result? A fast right to the face.

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  • 05 of 10

    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, then 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. Worst result? Nobody will drink with you any more.

  • 06 of 10

    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. Worst result? Being alone, and branded a conceited know-it-all.

  • 07 of 10

    Don't Expect Your Home Comforts in an Irish Setting

    Despite the onslaught of globalization (led by Gap, McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, River Island, and Starbucks), Ireland still is a "foreign country." With its own brands, chain-stores, local foods and drinks, and currencies. Do not expect to find everything you have at home. Worst result? You are not happy.

  • 08 of 10

    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. Worst result? You get too exhausted to enjoy your vacation.

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  • 09 of 10

    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. Worst result? You suffer from culture shock for life.

  • 10 of 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. Worst result? You miss a train...only to find out that the one that just left was the one that should have left an hour ago, was late, and thus held up the 10:16, which will now be due at 10:26.