Ireland Traditions and Culture You Should Know

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Arts + Sciences (Dublin City University)

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College Study Abroad

Known for its lush landscapes and rich history, The Emerald Isle offers a unique blend of Irish traditions in Ireland that captivate visitors and locals alike. From its ancient Gaelic roots to its vibrant modern-day practices, Ireland is home to a treasure trove of cultural experiences you won’t want to miss on a study abroad trip.  

Let's delve into some fascinating Republic of Ireland traditions! 

An Overview of the Republic of Ireland 

Before we unpack Ireland’s culture and traditions, here’s a quick overview of the country: 

  • Population: The Republic of Ireland is home to approximately 5 million people. Most of the population is predominantly young, with a significant portion under the age of 35, contributing to the dynamic and vibrant atmosphere of the country. 
  • Climate: Ireland enjoys a temperate maritime climate, which means mild winters and cool summers. The weather is famously unpredictable, often characterized by frequent and sudden changes. Rain is a common occurrence, contributing to the lush greenery that the country is famous for. 
  • Language: Ireland has two official languages: English and Irish (Gaeilge). While English is predominantly spoken, there are regions known as Gaeltacht areas where Irish is the primary language. Efforts to revive and promote the Irish language are ongoing, and you'll often see bilingual signs throughout the country. 
  • Location: Ireland is an island nation located in the North Atlantic, west of Great Britain. It is part of the European Union and shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. The country's picturesque landscape includes rolling green hills, rugged coastlines, and charming villages. 
  • Currency: The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro (€). ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are commonly accepted, making it easy for travelers to manage their finances. 
  • Airport: The main international gateway to Ireland is Dublin Airport (DUB), located just north of Dublin city. It serves as a hub for numerous international and domestic flights, connecting Ireland to major cities across the globe. 
  • Fun Fact: Did you know that Halloween has its origins in Ireland? The holiday is rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that during Samhain, the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred, allowing spirits to roam the earth. 


study abroad ireland museum visit students

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in Ireland 

What is Ireland Traditional Food? 

Traditional dishes in Ireland are hearty, wholesome, and rooted in the country's agricultural heritage. The national dish is Irish stew, one of the best traditional meals in Ireland, consisting of a simple yet flavorful recipe of lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and sometimes parsley. It's one of many comforting traditional Ireland foods that reflects the simplicity and resourcefulness of Irish cooking. 

Another iconic dish is Boxty, a type of potato pancake. Boxty can be served in various ways, including as a breakfast item or as a side dish. It's a testament to the Irish love of potatoes, a staple in their diet. 

A final must-try for visitors is Ireland’s iconic full Irish breakfast! This Irish staple typically includes bacon, sausages, eggs, black and white pudding, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, and toast, often accompanied by a cup of strong Irish tea. Enjoy this hearty meal before starting a full day of exploration! 

Read More: Eat, Drink, Explore: Dublin 

What is Ireland’s Biggest Tradition? 

One of Ireland's biggest and most widely celebrated traditions is St. Patrick's Day. Held annually on March 17th, this national holiday honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the island. The day is marked by parades, music, dancing, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Cities and towns across Ireland, and indeed the world, host festivities, with Dublin's St. Patrick's Festival being one of the most prominent celebrations. 

Other significant Irish traditions include:  

  • Halloween celebrations, which have roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain; according to Irish mythology, this festival for the dead opens doorways to the “otherworld” 
  • Ireland Christmas traditions, such as the "12 pubs of Christmas" custom wherein you visit 12 different pubs in one night, spending roughly 30 minutes at each one while enjoying a drink and wearing your ugliest Christmas sweater 
  • Ireland New Year traditions, like having a spring-clean at the start of the year; this centuries-old tradition maintains that a tidy space equals a tidy mind 
  • The concept of "craic," which means having fun and enjoying good company 


study abroad blarney stone kiss

Read More: What Does Craic Mean? Your Guide to Irish Slang 

What is Ireland Most Known For? 

Ireland culture and traditions go beyond Irish festivals, holidays, customs, and meals. The Emeral Isle is also famously renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, historical landmarks, and vibrant culture.  

Some of the most iconic aspects include: 

  • The Cliffs of Moher: These dramatic cliffs on the west coast offer breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean and are one of Ireland's most visited natural attractions 
  • The Book of Kells: This beautifully illuminated manuscript, housed in Trinity College Dublin, is a masterpiece of medieval art and an important cultural artifact 
  • Guinness: The world-famous stout originated in Dublin, and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a popular tourist activity, offering insights into the history and brewing process of this iconic drink 
  • Irish Pubs: Known for their cozy atmosphere, live music, and friendly locals, Irish pubs are a staple of social life and an integral part of the cultural fabric 
  • Literary Legacy: Ireland has a rich and expansive literary history, with the country producing world-famous authors like Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and C.S. Lewis 
  • Folklore and Mythology: Ireland has a rich tradition of storytelling, featuring legends of fairies, leprechauns, and ancient heroes 
  • Warm Hospitality: While in Ireland, you’re sure to experience the famous Irish welcome, known as "céad míle fáilte" (a hundred thousand welcomes) 

Read More: Why Study Abroad in Ireland 

What is Ireland’s Culture Like? 

Irish culture is rich and multifaceted, characterized by a deep sense of community, a love for storytelling, and a strong connection to the past. Hospitality is a key element of Irish culture, with a warm welcome extended to visitors and a strong emphasis on family and friendships. 

Literature and Storytelling 

Ireland has produced many renowned writers and poets, including James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett. Storytelling is a cherished tradition, with myths, legends, and folktales passed down through generations. The Irish have a unique talent for weaving tales that capture the imagination and reflect the country's rich heritage. 

Festivals and Celebrations 

In addition to St. Patrick's Day, Ireland hosts numerous festivals celebrating music, arts, and local traditions. The Galway International Arts Festival, Cork Jazz Festival, and Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival are just a few examples of events that draw visitors from around the world. 


Sport is an important part of Irish culture, with Gaelic games such as hurling and Gaelic football holding a special place in the hearts of many. These traditional sports are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and are played at both amateur and professional levels, with the All-Ireland Championships being a major highlight of the sporting calendar. 

What is Ireland Traditional Music and Dance? 

Traditional Irish music and dance are vibrant expressions of the country's heritage and are cornerstones of Ireland’s cultural identity.  

Irish Music 

Irish traditional music is characterized by its lively rhythms, jigs, and ballads and distinctive instruments, such as the fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and bodhrán (a type of drum). Sessions, informal gatherings of musicians playing together, are a common sight in pubs across Ireland, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and spontaneous joy. 

Irish Dance 

Irish dance is best known internationally through shows like "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance." It includes various forms, such as solo step dancing, characterized by rapid leg movements while keeping the upper body largely stationary, and céilí dancing, a form of social dance performed in groups. Irish dance schools across the country preserve these traditions, teaching the intricate steps to new generations. 

Traditional Irish music and dance are not just historical artifacts but living traditions that continue to evolve and inspire new generations of performers and audiences. 

killiney hill students abroad

Can I Study Abroad in Ireland? 

Yes! You can absolutely study abroad in Ireland. At CIEE Study Abroad, we offer 10 incredible study abroad and global internship programs in Dublin, the dynamic and historic capital of Ireland. Whether you’re interested in studying Irish history, literature, business, the arts, or another subject or discipline, CIEE has a program for you! 

Look at three of our top CIEE Dublin programs: 

Featured Program #1: Semester in Dublin 

This program invites you to spend a full semester getting a true taste of Irish culture. Earn credits in business, politics, cuisine, or sustainability initiatives while participating in an optional for-credit internship and exploring all Ireland has to offer. 

  • Program Length: 17 weeks 
  • Credit: 12-16 semester hours/18-24 credit hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 overall GPA 
  • Featured Course: The Business of Brewing 

Featured Program #2: Open Campus Block 

Spend one, two, or up to three six-week blocks on our Open Campus Block program! You can spend up to 18 weeks in Dublin or mix and match six-week blocks in Dublin and our other Open Campus block locations. This program is the perfect opportunity to design your own study abroad program for the ultimate flexibility and mobility abroad. 

  • Program Length: Up to 18 weeks 
  • Credit: 6-7 per block semester hours/9-10.5 per block quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 overall GPA 
  • Featured Course: Contemporary Challenges in Global Health 

Featured Program #3: Summer Global Internship 

Instead of spending your summer break at home, spend eight weeks of your summer interning abroad in Dublin! During this program you’ll gain real-world work experience in some of the world's most respected technology, media, pharmaceutical, and financial companies, as well as local creative startups. 

  • Program Length: 8 weeks 
  • Credit: 6 semester hours/9 quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 overall GPA 
  • Featured Course: Academic Internship in the Global Workplace 

Ireland is Calling 

As you now know, Ireland’s traditions and culture offer a captivating blend of the old and the new, where ancient customs coexist with modern innovations. Whether you're savoring a traditional Irish stew, joining in a lively céilí dance, or exploring the breathtaking landscapes, Ireland promises a cultural experience like no other. Dive into the heart of The Emerald Isle and discover the timeless charm of this remarkable country for yourself!