My Love Note to The Irish

a castle in ireland near galwayA couple years ago, I had a twenty-four hour layover in Dublin. I crammed in as much sightseeing as I could, and though I got to see the sights, I never got to know the city. I vowed to come back.

The Emerald Isle has always held a certain allure: Guinness, friendly locals (never met an Irish person I didn’t like), rolling verdant green hills, leprechauns, pots of gold, lucky charms, hearty food, and ancient castles.

Last month, I went back to Ireland for a travel conference. Sadly, I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted. My trip had to be cut short due to a commitment in the US, and many of the things I tried to do were rained out (but what’s Ireland without the rain?).

I guess that long road trip around Ireland will just have to wait.

Though I didn’t get to see much of the country, I did get to meet a lot of locals—and I have to tell you that while Ireland itself is beautiful, the Irish make Ireland the wonderful country it is.

The Irish are some of the friendliest, warmest, and most outgoing people I’ve ever met. I’ve met Irish travelers before, and one of my close friends is Irish (probably the only vegetarian, non-drinking Irishman in the world!), but that’s nothing compared to experiencing the Irish in their own country.

a castle in ireland near galway

First, there are the Dublin cab drivers. When I arrived in Dublin a few years ago, the cab driver chatted my ear off as we drove to town from the airport, telling me all about how his daughter was now 33 (spoken in an Irish accent, which sounds more like “tertee tree”), every neighborhood we passed through, and which Irish food I needed to eat during my visit.

His warm, friendly nature made that taxi ride one of my favorites.

Because of that experience, I took cabs wherever I could during my recent visit. I generally avoid cabs (they’re expensive compared to the local bus), but every cab ride was like learning about a slice of life in Ireland. Each ride was a new chapter of a very long story. I had one driver make fun of me for being American (“here’s your change, DUDE”), one gave me the lowdown on Irish politics and an upcoming election, another talked about how Ireland has developed since he was a kid, and others just chatted my ear off about life in Dublin.

Taxi drivers in Dublin are a league apart. I highly recommend taking at least a couple of cab rides during your visit.

Next there was my Airbnb host in Galway (probably the best host I’ve ever had). He helped out by getting me a free tour, showed me some pubs, and overall made my time in the city spectacular. He went out of his way to accommodate me during my stay.

the ocean near the west side of ireland in galway

During dinner one night in Galway, two Irish men sat beside me and my friend, looked over, and after a simple “Where are you from?” chatted our ears off all night, even asking us to take their picture to show their wives they were having a great time. We enjoyed wine and some laughs, and I enjoyed a thick Irish accent I couldn’t always understand.

I loved the abundant friendliness and hospitality I was constantly shown. Whether it was asking questions on the street, interactions in stores, or banter in the bars, the Irish were always happy, helpful, and energetic. They have an infectious charisma that just makes you happy.

a castle in ireland near galway

Their demeanor, their attitude, and their willingness to share a pint and tell jokes with you—the Irish are incredibly hospitable hosts and left a lasting impression on me.

Ireland is a beautiful country, with verdant hills and castle ruins around every corner, but what will bring me back to Ireland are the people and a desire to learn more about their history and culture.

Visit Ireland for the beauty, stay for the people.

For more on visiting Ireland, read my guide to traveling Ireland for practical information and recommendations.

  1. Oh stop, you’re making us blush! :)
    We know that people love our accent and I’ve no problem with saying ‘tertee tree and a turd’ (upgraded version) over and over again to foreigners, if it entertains them! :)

    Can you imagine what it’s like when an Irish person gets into a taxi with the driver? There is no silence. In fact, the national TV station here is making a TV programme about the ‘banter’ in taxi’s in Ireland…called ‘Taxi’ of course. You can probably watch it on when it comes out. You’d love it! :)

  2. I was in Ireland for 2 1/2 weeks solo and had an amazing time. A great place for a solo trip for the very reasons you mention here. So much of my ancestry is Irish but dispite my search never got to meet any one. However, I was chatted up in every pub. every single one and it made up the highlight of my trip.

    Galway was very picturesque. I really liked the Kings Head pub.

  3. The Irish people are fantastic! I loved every minute I was there. I highly recommend taking a Paddywagon bus tour for first time visitors to see some great places first-timers may not consider.
    I would very much like to live there for a while just to get really immersed into the Irish lifestyle and culture. Hopefully, soon.

  4. This is exactly what I thought while I was in Ireland. Yes, I saw and did a ton of things in my 10 days there, but I’ve never much such lovely, warm, friendly people! Ireland and the Irish are in my heart forever. Can’t wait to pay them another visit.

  5. I totally agree. I visited Ireland for the first time in August, and I was blown away by how friendly everyone was. As an example, the customs guy directing us through the passport line at Dublin airport was super cheerful and making jokes. I could never fathom any employee at a US airport being so upbeat!

  6. Darlene

    Matt, I too fell in love with the Irish people and their beautiful country when I drove on a self-driving tour with a friend from Dublin to Donegal to Galway last year. Everyone was charming, friendly, hospitable and I just have to say that the men with twinkling blue eyes and dimples from 18 to 80 were very charming!

  7. I whole-heartedly agree! I visited Ireland last year and fell in love. I had to tuck my tail between my legs because the destination was my husband’s pick which I initially felt rather “meh” about. Now it’s one of my favorite destinations. The people couldn’t have been lovelier.

  8. I’m from England, currently in Turin, but yet never been to Ireland. Yet ive met loads of Irish around the World. Like your post highlights, I too have never come across a grumpy, rude or unfriendly Irish person. I want to get to Ireland and experience the locals first hand too. Nice positive post Matt :)

  9. Patricia Fitzgerald

    I was born in County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland and have never been back. It is on top of my bucket list of things things to do before I depart this earth. My parent’s had thick Irish accents until the end, even though they spent so many years in Canada.

    I aways hear about how friendly the people in Ireland are. Other than immediate family, most of my aunts and cousins are in the auld sod, as they say.

  10. Serena

    Love this. I’ve been wanting to go to Ireland since I was 8. A lot of my ancestry is Irish, though, so I guess I’m just partial anyway.
    Glad to hear the people are so great!

  11. Irish cheer is contagious! My favorite bar owner (at Sassafras Bar fyi ;-)) here in Philly is Irish and I can’t get enough of him or his food. Makes me excited for my trip to Ireland.

  12. Thank you so much for your blogs Matt. I’ve really been enjoying them as I’m a newbie!

    The Irish are lovely folk and so nice and accommodating. I went there a few years ago when my son was quite young and somehow, I mistook a really nice B&B in Cork to be €75 for 2 nights when it was actually €75 per night and I couldn’t even pay it!

    I live in Berlin and well, my card wasn’t working as my German bank had blocked it since I was in Ireland. It was a public holiday in Germany and I couldn’t give the management the cash that I actually had on me as it was my emergency fund and we were still travelling for another fortnight.

    The manager however, used to live in Hamburg and told me to transfer the money when I returned home even though he didn’t know me from Adam!

    I was so impressed and very grateful as we were by now reaching a state of embarrassment!

    I paid two weeks later and also added a generous tip. :)

  13. Amy

    I lived in Ireland for 6 months when I was 18 years old, and I can say that this never changes. It is still one of my favorite places in the world, having traveled dozens of countries and six continents. A truly remarkable people and culture.

  14. Just come across your blog Matt and you have some really great posts. I also need to visit Ireland, and i have no excuse for not doing so when it’s a 30 minute flight away!

  15. Well I came to Ireland in 2005 for St Paddy’s celebrations. It was one of the few Western Europe countries left on my list. I had a return ticket (and inmigration stamp) to stay one week, afterwards my plans were to travel for a few months in Europe and find a place to settle for s while. Turns out that almost 9 years later I’m still here, married to an Irish guy I met on the first night in Ireland, at midnight on St Paddy’s. I never left Ireland, I did not need to look further, I had found my ideal place; and not bc of that guy that swept me off my feet but bc of all the Irish people that helped me stay legally and easily, and made Ireland the perfect place for a happy ending.

  16. Dan

    Have a good rest I’m resting tooJust came back from Ireland too,first time that I drive on left side on a rental car.First 3 h was terrible then I adjust and I spend a week.I’m home in the Hamptons waiting for Thanksgiving.If you pass give me a sign.

  17. Yes, I totally agree, and I just got back from Ireland after one month there, going around the country. And if you (native English speaker) didn’t always understand their accent, I see why I didn’t get everything either, and it’s even harder in the North! But they are friendly everywhere. I absolutely loved Ireland and the Irish, and I mostly had good weather, lucky me. Amazing country!

  18. Hi, you made me remember my trip to Ireland many years ago. I went to Dublin with a couple of friends. We were three latin bolivian girls touring around Dublin and it was funny, specially when we went one night to a pub in the Temple Bar area, there was some music band playing typical irish music and everybody was saying “cheers” to us, we suddenly realized that actually we stood out from the crowd, since everybody was more the blond european irish type.. we never felt so popular :) and the group vocalist even asked us where we were from , from the microphone and dedicated us a song: Brown eyed girls :) that was hillarious, and a story we always remember with my friends, we definetely have a very good impression from the irish :)

  19. David M

    I travel a lot but when I’m not travelling I get to call Ireland home. And when I’m at home I’m always conscious of how the tourist, the impressionable visitor, exactly the kind of person I am when I’m not at home, perceives my country. Needless to say I want them to be impressed. Matt, I’m glad you, and everyone else who has commented here, enjoyed home and left with fond memories (and a desire to return). We – the Irish – have had plenty to complain about of late (& amongst ourselves at least we like to complain a lot), but it’s good to hear that, in your experience at least, we’re still as welcoming to strangers (who fast become friends) as our reputation suggests.

  20. Matt
    This is so true! The Irish are THE nicest people in the world and those cabbies will talk, talk, talk and tell you everything! I had one telling me about his sick, bed-ridden wife, but how he keeps her entertained with his muse. He was the sweetest thing, made me want to tip him more, but I didn’t since I never know if they are pulling my leg or not. I tipped him, but not more than usual.

  21. That’s so funny that you mentioned the Dublin cab drivers. My husband and I had a similar experience where our cab driver was talking our ears off! Such a nice guy, I’ll never forget that cab ride. Now that I have been living in London for the past four years, I have made loads of Irish friends. They are a kind, gentle, and fun-loving group of people. Enjoy your time in New York Matt!

  22. This is one hell of an invitation to Ireland, I have to say! My last trips have been to destinations not yet fully discovered by tourists, in Eastern Europe mostly, but I guess the time has come to look into the stereotype about the friendliest people on the planet. Looking forward to many pints in many pubs across the country! Great read. Just keep it up!

  23. Mike

    This post made me so happy. I studied abroad in Galway and everything you said brought back some great memories. I’m very much in love with everything about that country.

  24. Its always good to know other people’s side of the story, I had a warm feeling on your description about Ireland, how hospitable Irish people were in your stay there. I can’t help but smile on your taxi experience and thought about maybe you had qualms the moment you step out of the airport since it is a foreign land and how relieved you were when the taxi driver welcomed you in such warm manner.

  25. Hey Matt! You’re on the ball there, us Irish love to chat, there’s no such thing as awkward silence, we’ll keep the conversation flowing! haha Glad you enjoyed your visit, “Visit Ireland for the beauty, stay for the people.”, kind words!

  26. Olivia

    Hi Matt,

    Glad you enjoyed Ireland and that you met so many nice locals! You’ll have to come back again for a road trip. I highly recommend Clare, Kerry, Kilkenny and Cork. I’m lucky to be from such a beautiful country. If only the weather was a bit nicer!! 😛

  27. Glad you liked my homeland Matt! If you do go back (which I hope and think you will), try and get Belfast in (unless you did it already) – Northern Ireland is a really different part of the island – lots of political and cultural history as well as more pubs than you can shake a leg at of course. Keep that Guinness cold! Safe travels. Jonny

  28. Karley Chamblee

    Your story excites me to the point of me smiling so much as I was reading it! I’m traveling to Ireland (Limerick) next month to study abroad for a semester. I’m overwhelmed, but thrilled at the same time. Your experiences in Dublin comfort me, and I can only imagine how incredible it was and how incredible it will be for me.
    Hope you can go back soon and experience more!
    Thanks for sharing.

  29. Kieu

    I couldn’t agree more. I adore our Irish friends whom we met during our honeymoon in Africa last year, and who flew down to Spain last month just to spend a few days with us while we were on holiday. I need to get to Ireland, stat!

  30. Yup the Irish sure are a friendly folk, met many cab drivers with whom I exchanged life stories and experiences:P

    There fun and friendly in bars as well, although one time I’ve been talking to a drunk guy and for the life of me I could not make anything out of the Irish gibberish. As a Dutch guy I understand English pretty well, or at least I like to think so, but Irish can be quite difficult at times:)

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