1) Craic ain’t whack!
If an Irishman suggests you go somewhere to find the crack, thank them for the tip and go there. Their crack is actually spelled “craic” and it simply means a good time—revelry, conversation, entertainment and fun.
2) Don’t assume you’ll be living on the edge…of the Cliffs of Moher.
The main viewing area of the cliffs, which rise 700 feet over the ocean, have protective stone barriers and fences. Daring visitors may choose to walk on the other side of the fences of the Cliff Walk, which runs along either side of the main viewing area. Just keep in mind that sudden, strong wind gusts can turn a tourist’s totally wicked selfie into their farewell photo.
The cliffs of the Aran Islands are a different story. While they may not be quite as high, you can walk right up to the gut-clenching drop-off hundreds of feet above the crashing waves without side-stepping a single protective fence. And it would surely kill you just as effectively if you stumbled off the side. Instead of walking to the edge, I suggest a belly crawl.
3) You do not bend over to kiss the Blarney Stone.
You actually lie on your back, as workers feed you off the side of Blarney Castle to smooch the rock. Ancient legend says this will give you the gift of gab. Modern lore suggests locals like to sneak up and water the rock with kidney-filtered Guinness. I didn’t care. I kissed it anyway. Who knows? Maybe that’s where the magic comes from.
4) Whiskey comes with a geography lesson.
In England, if you ask for a whisky (no “e” there), you’ll get a Scotch. In Ireland, if you ask for a whiskey (yes “e” there), you’ll get an Irish Whiskey. So what’s the main difference between Irish Whiskey and Scotch? Scotch is made in Scotland. There’s some other variations, like how many times it’s distilled. But it really comes down to location, location, location.
How do I know? Because I’m a Jameson “Certified Whiskey Taster” which means I’m a pretty big deal across the pond. Okay, fine, it doesn’t mean that. What it does mean is that I’m the naive tourist who unwittingly volunteered to drink six shots of whiskey then tell them I like the Irish Whiskey the best. My reward was a full glass of it.
5) B&Bs are a serious business over there.
Tourism is vital to the Irish economy, and family-run B&Bs are a key component. When you think of a B&B in the States, you probably picture quaint, Victorian-style homes. We stayed in many modern ones with en suite bathrooms. And they were all much cleaner and nicer than our first night’s hotel.
The key advantage to staying at a B&B over a hotel was not just the affordability, but the friendly advice and local insight hosts serve up with each breakfast (they totally know where the craic is).
6) You should NOT tip your barkeep.
How would your obstetrician react if you slipped her a fiver after she delivered your baby? Probably the same way your Irish barkeep would act if you slipped him a euro after he built your Guinness.
Not tipping may be hard on us Americans (well, probably not as hard for the old buzzards who line up for free coffee refills at the Red Apple), still there are ways to get around it.
One method I once heard was to invite the bartender to “have one for yourself.” They might ask if you mind if they enjoy their beverage later before accepting the drink money. My friend Irene also has a very cool “tipping tip” in her upcoming guest blog about her visit to Ireland.
You can read more about Irish tipping etiquette here:
7) Black pudding, a breakfast staple in Ireland, is NOT dark chocolate pudding.
Black pudding is actually made by mixing animal blood (usually pig’s) with grains, fat and other flavorings.
Apparently, I’m the only one who didn’t know that.
But if it spares one other simpleton the crushing disappointment and resulting awkwardness of pushing around three blood sausages on her breakfast plate, my confession will have served a purpose. Of course, many people love both its taste and high iron & protein content (thanks to all that delicious blood!), so perhaps it’s worth a taste (for people who aren’t me).
What to learn more about not-dark-chocolate pudding? Here ya go: