Absolutely they do but there are a few things to remember to avoid any disappointment and help you steer clear of a few awkward moments.
Let’s start with the good stuff, which is true for 99% of visitors: yes, the Irish generally like Americans and will make you feel very welcome. Why wouldn’t they? Ireland is a very friendly country and very knowledgeable about all things American…your culture, politics, films and music. We grew up on it.
So, don’t worry, you will generally be made to feel very welcome. There will perhaps be the odd isolated exception of somebody with an axe to grind who wants to take you to task about something America is doing…or isn’t doing…as if somehow, it’s your responsibility, but you get those kinds of people everywhere so don’t take it personally.
As long as you are friendly and polite yourself, you’ll get on fine. And to be fair, in my experience, most Americans are extremely polite. I’ve come across hundreds of Americans while visiting Irish tourist spots on behalf of Ireland Calling and found them nearly always to be friendly, respectful and deeply interested in local culture and history.
Of course, as with odd isolated Irishmen mentioned earlier who wants to tell Americans where they’re going wrong, there’s always the odd isolated ‘yank’ who lives up to the cliché of the big brash American who has a little too much to say for himself and insists on saying in as loud a voice as possible.
So, if you come telling us everything is better in the US, ask why we drive on the wrong side of the road, if you jump queues, mock local customs etc then you will get short shrift…as you would anywhere.
Assuming you’re one of the 99% of polite and courteous Americans you’ll be made to feel very welcome and won’t have any problems.
There are a few points to remember though to avoid any disappointment or awkwardness, mainly caused by misconceptions about Ireland and the Irish.
Many Americans identify as Irish and feel as though they’re going home when they visit Ireland. This is not how the Irish see it. If you’re from America and you talk like an American then as far as the Irish are concerned, you’re an American.
This applies even if your parents were Irish, let alone grandparents or even more distant ancestors. In fact, it even applies if you were born in Ireland but emigrated as a young child.
This can be disappointing for some people who thought they would get a sense of belonging from visiting the ‘homeland’ but find that instead of being treated as one of the clan, they are seen, however politely, as outsiders.
It’s nothing personal so don’t be hurt of offended, and don’t let it spoil your visit.
Another misconception some Americans have is that Irish people are committed supporters of the IRA. In fact, most Irish people despise IRA terrorists and want nothing to do with them. Yes, the Irish might sing rebel songs occasionally after a few too many beers but they are generally referencing events from hundreds of years ago, not the atrocities of the recent Troubles.
It’s best to avoid the subject if you want to avoid an uncomfortable silence marring the conversation.
One last point, the Irish can sometimes have a very direct and forceful sense of humour. Don’t take it the wrong way. If they start a bit of banter about your accent, your clothes or whatever, it’s because they like you and feel comfortable with you…if you laugh along with it they’ll love you; if you can hit them straight back with banter of your own, they’ll love you all the more.