Ireland is a beautiful place, and well known for its hospitality and friendliness. But do you know that, by saying certain things, that characteristic amicable streak will turn to simmering rage? Here are the Top Ten Triggers.

Ireland – the Land of a Thousand Welcomes

The Irish are known as extremely welcoming and friendly. They will go out of their way to help someone if they’ve lost their way. They will supply you with gallons of tea, whether you like tea, or not. They will chat to you till the cows come home. But, there are a few things that grate on an Irish person’s soul, and you’d best avoid them, if I’m very honest with you. If you don’t, it won’t be pretty. They might continue to smile through gritted teeth, but in reality, they are secretly thinking of pouring that pint of milk they’ve just handed to you, over your innocent head.

But what are these things that enrage an Irish person so much? Here are the Top Ten.

Niamh Cooper, Publisher at eThentique in west Cork, tells us more.

1. “Top of the Morning to you!”

Yes, that little phrase, ‘Top of the Morning to you’, or worse, ‘to ya’, is a phrase that, well, is just NOT said in Ireland. In fact, if it is said to us, in all seriousness (or even in jest), we start to twitch, uncontrollably. It’s just one of those triggers. Apparently, it was, once, but that’s a long, looooooooooong, time ago. Perhaps it still survives today in the tiniest pocket of the outer reaches of a remote rock somewhere, but trust us, it is not a common phrase in Dublin, Cork, Tipperary or Ballybunion. Unfortunately, crimes-against-the-Irish-type films made about Ireland, such as ‘Far and Away’, feature such phrases, and are responsible for spreading these false beliefs.

We love mornings – but we don’t love “Top of the Morning”! A sunrise in Inchydoney, west Cork.

We’re a lot more inclined to say:

How’s it going?

How are things?

How’s the head?



Though, like most humans, if any of these are said before 11 a.m., or prior to three cups of coffee, you may also get your head bitten off.

2. Bad Irish Accents

The Irish accent is known to be one of the sexiest in the world. As someone whose roots are in Cork, I whole-heartedly agree.

However, one thing that jars with us Irish more than a substandard loaf of brown bread, are bad Irish accents. There are many. Often in movies (or films, as we call them). This may or may not surprise you, but most Irish people consider Tom Cruise’s and Nicole Kidman’s Irish accents in ‘That fillem’ the 1992 (yes,1992! We STILL can’t let that one go!), to be some of the worst in any film about Ireland, ever. There are even charts devoted to this.

Even the Irish themselves…

And one thing that jumps out is that almost ALL bad Irish accents, with the exception of Pierce Brosnan (Taffin, 1998 (I had never heard of it!)) and, yes, our lovely hunk, Jamie Dornan in the (in Ireland) not very well received Wild Mountain Thyme (watch the trailer, we dare ya), came into existence, because they were spoken by actors and actresses who – were not Irish! Their voice coach was probably from Wales, or Scotland. No offense, we love Welsh and Scottish people, but they do have a different accent.

Ireland, the land of many many accents

Add to that mix that there is not one specific Irish accent. There are 32 counties, and each county has their own accent. Then, when you look at County Cork for example, there is a west Cork accent, an east Cork accent, a north Cork accent, a Cork City accent – and within the city, there is a “Norrie” (northside) accent, and a southside accent…

OK, we do realise:

What hope does Hollywood have, to even attempt to portray the Irish accent authentically?

But hey, there is a simple answer:

Use us!

I suppose what we’re really saying is: Why use an American actor and an Australian actress to star in a film about the Irish, when there are so many Irish actors and actresses who could play these roles? Yes, we concede that Cillian Murphy was only a young fella in 1992, and people still can’t pronounce Saoirse Ronan‘s name (and in 1992, she was minus two years old!). But there would have been plenty of Irish talent only too happy to play those parts (or seriously coach Tom and Nicole!).

3. St. Patty’s Day

A ‘patty’ is something you might put on your burger.

It is also something you might step in, and not be too pleased about.

However, our lovely St. Patrick is NEVER, EVER, referred to as St. Patty. Not once. Not ever.

St. Patrick’s Day. Never: St. Patty’s. (We needed to embroider in the apostrophe, while we were at it!). Credit: Pixabay

So, if you want to celebrate the 17th March like we do: It’s

St. Patrick’s Day


Paddy’s Day

I think the confusion arose way back when, when Patrick was shortened to Paddy, and then, when 17th March became synonymous with Ireland all over the world, and someone had too many pints and started calling him Patty, that’s when all the trouble started…

But sure listen, would you refer to your Uncle Patrick in that way? He might be insulted, so let’s stick with calling him ‘Paddy’. It’ll make his day.

4. Drink

Yes, we do like a drink as much as the next person. But it does rub us up the wrong way, when the first Irish characteristic people think of is that the Irish are a bunch of drunks. Yes, we’ve had our moments. Yes, we shouldn’t have had too much at Aunt Betty’s 60th, and danced on the table (she was not pleased).

Aunt Betty. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Yes, we knew that the Twelve Pubs of Christmas were way too much for us. But our defining characteristic?We don’t think so. We would like to think we’re good-natured, and kind-hearted, and we can take a joke, especially about ourselves. We enjoy a slagging and we’re generous, too.

According to, we’re not top of the list of most alcohol consumed worldwide. We’d like to think they’re right.

5. What part of the UK is that?

For anyone who has a vague inkling about Irish history, you will know that mentioning Ireland being in the UK is a highly sensitive issue. The Irish Times gives a good synopsis. Suffice it to say that Ireland has been independent of the United Kingdom since 1922. And most Irish people don’t take too kindly to being referred to as ‘British’. It’s kinda of no-go area.

The same go for sensitivities in relation to The British Isles. For some, it’s a purely geographical question. But for most Irish people, it is much more than that, and it quickly becomes political. The easy response to this: For most Irish people, calling them part of the British Isles is akin to calling them British, or part of the British, eek, ’empire’. So it would be like calling a Canadian an American, or vice versa. It does happen and neither are too pleased about it.

It gets a little more complicated if you’re from Northern Ireland. Some identify as British, some as Irish. It largely depends on where your family is from, and whether they are Catholic, or Protestant. But we won’t go into this here. The main take-away from this is:

When speaking to an Irish person, DO NOT refer to them as being part of the UK, British, or similar.

When speaking to a person from Northern Irish, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Or simply tell them you don’t mean to offend them, and could they explain where they are from. Simples (well, sort of.).

6. What part of Britain are you from?

This leads us to our next point. When the Irish are asked, what part of Britain we are from, it’s like asking a Mets fan why he loves the Yankees. You just don’t.

What’s even worse: Our neighbours in the UK have a knack of ‘claiming’ us as their own. It seems to happen in particular, when someone becomes famous.

Paul Mescal, who shot to stardom in 2020, with his depiction of the handsome Connell, in ‘Normal People‘, had to point out that he was, in fact, Irish, when he was being ‘claimed’.

Jedward had to do it.

They did it to Saoirse Ronan, too. And told her it was a compliment. Grrr.

Even Samuel L. Jackson had to come out and defend Colin Farrell as Irish. This was on a one of the most famous Irish talk shows. Needless to say we loved his response.

And the list goes on. Even President elect Joe Biden is now defending the Irish, and he’s making no secret that it’s a strong part of his heritage. Even though this particular short encounter with the BBC was tongue in cheek, we love it!

7. Potatoes

Look, we like spuds. If cooked correctly, they can be divine. Mashed, boiled, roasted, dauphinoise, as wedges… They’re a versatile vegetable. But: They do not define us. Just like we wouldn’t call anyone a corn on the cob-gobbler, please don’t call us a potato-eater. That is all.

Image by vikvarga from Pixabay

8. Rounds

Look, it’s a thing. And yes, I know I’m after telling you that Irish people don’t want to be defined by their drinking. But. Should we find ourselves in a pub (when they finally re-open – yes, we’re still in lockdown here! And crying, just a little bit.), then make sure that you know the unspoken rule: If someone buys you a drink in Ireland, whether it’s Guinness, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s or whiskey, it is your absolute DUTY as a kind citizen to then buy the next round. Even if you’re green in the face from pintage and you’d rather go home and watch Netflix. And hey, you can do that. You can buy a round without buying yourself one. Use it as your escape route, if you will. But if you want to live another day, do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave the pub without having repaid your dues.

PS: It’s just good manners, anyway.

Who’s shout is it?

9. It’s always raining

It’s not.

Well, we do have a lot of green fields. And precipitation. That falls from the sky.

We do speak of it. But no one else may.

10. Tea

Depending on what part of Ireland you’re from, you will like Barry’s Tea (mainly Cork tea drinkers) or Lyons Tea (mainly Dublin tea drinkers). If you’re from anywhere else in Ireland, you probably pick your poison from either of those.

There are fierce debates about it. Clearly, if you’re from Cork, Lyons tea is considered to be a weak and tepid beverage. If you’re from Dublin, inexplicably, you will not like drinking a cup of Barry’s tea. We will not settle that particular debate here.

But what is important to note is this:

A cup of tea, in Ireland (whether Barry’s or Lyons), is more than just a cup of tea. It is a ritual.

Firstly, it’s a bit of a dance. If you’re offered a cup of tea, one usually declines the first cup. Possibly also the second. The host or hostess likes to insist, so one usually accepts the third, and substantially more insistant:

“Ahh sure go on, you will have a cup of tea!”

Because what they’re really doing is they’re inviting you to sit with them, and have the chat. To wile away the time. To tell a story. To reminisce. To share a joke. To talk. To ward off a temporary sadness.

So, if an Irish person asks if you’ll have a cup of tea, even if you are a tea-totaller, or you really don’t feel like one: You say:

Go on. I will so.

Because, what you’re really saying is:

I’d like to stay and chat.

And if you really, really, REALLY can’t stay, because you have to go on this urgent mission to save the world from sudden spontaneous combustion, then you can, very cautiously, and politely, decline, but perhaps accept a small glass of water, OR, you can arrange to come by for a cuppa on another day. Soon. And that simple act will appease and not offend. You’d better turn up on that day, though.

You most certainly don’t refuse most cups of tea in Ireland. Or this will happen. You’re welcome.