Every year, nearly ten million people visit Ireland from overseas – that is around double the population of the country.
Many visitors are coming from the other side of the world to explore their family heritage, while plenty of others have simply come to enjoy the myriad of attractions the country has to offer.
Tourism is clearly an important part of Ireland’s economy, but what is it that gives people the biggest culture shock during their stay?
It was a question that was posed by a user of the popular website Quora. Here are some of the best responses:
Steve Hammill of Montana had a few things that surprised him, including the friendliness of the locals – which is great but can be confusing at first.
He said: “Just because a lass ‘chats you up’ it doesn’t mean she wants anything more than some ‘good craic’.”
He also mentioned some other things that surprised him: “I’ve never seen a donkey cart in Ireland; my Grandmother spoke of the fondly… and if an old Irishman tells you ‘It’s just a wee walk, lad’ be warned; it is a long, long hike. …learned this the hard way.”
Lee Middleton said: “How modern and vibrant the cities are. Construction cranes everywhere. High tech and pharma companies all over.
“I had vague memories of the country from a visit in the 1970s as a child, and I remember it as very agricultural, and quiet. There were even farm animals on the coins then.”
Irishman Shane McCarrick gave a tongue-in-cheek answer: “Most people under the age of 25 use txt speak- while speaking- and their accent is West Coast US.”
South African Tommy Dennis said: “I’m surprised no one has said this because it left quite an impression on me… THE SWEARING!.
“Okay I should probably preface with the fact that I spent most of my time in Limerick. And yes, I had a fairly good idea that Limerick is not the Ireland they show to the world.
“I’ve never been exposed to such a broad section of people who swear like the Irish.
“The two older women, who must’ve been just younger than my grandmother, going on about “this fecker” and “that litter fecker”.
“The kids who must’ve been about 10–11, waiting in line for the bus describing ‘that f***ing muppet’ who upset them and going to further voice their grievances about that ‘massive ****’.
“I really enjoyed Ireland and yes, even Limerick. If anything, it endeared the Irish to me even more but wow, that was something I had to get used to.”
Canadian Francis Major said: “People actually say ‘hello’ to you. In Vancouver it’s not exactly the norm to greet or speak to anyone you don’t know.
“The Irish are friendly. I didn’t believe they would be as friendly and charismatic as I had heard.
“They aren’t that difficult to understand. As a Canadian I imagined I would not be able to understand anyone, but I never had a hard time doing so.
“The Irish were actually easier (at least for me) to understand than many British and even some other Canadians.”
Philippe Dangin said: “Not a culture shock but rather a movie scene. In Dublin there was a tall man selling flowers in the street with a handcart. It seems he had no license to do this because a tiny policewoman was scolding him, shaking her finger like we do with kids.
“The tall man looked like John Wayne, but he was humbly lowering his head with his arms behind his back. It was an hilarious scene, and it went even better when they both left the place.
“Two minutes later John Wayne came back with his handcart, he looked cautiously on the right, on the left, she was gone, and he quietly started selling his flowers again with a big smile.
“Oh, I love Ireland!”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling