Irish people love to talk. We can chat about almost any subject whether we know what we are talking about or not. We definitely enjoy embellishing tales and adding our own spin, it always makes for a good conversation. An Irish conversation can fill an entire afternoon should you be in the mood.
Sometimes you might be in a position where you want to strike up a conversation but are unsure of the best way. Maybe you want some information or simply to be in the company of some locals.
I’ve put together a list of some Irish conversation starters for both locals and visitors to Ireland. Some you will certainly know but others are a little trickier to figure out. There is always more to learn about Ireland so this should be a starting point.
There are quite a few phrases which mean the same thing. It can be a little confusing, hopefully, this list will help you understand the context and make your Irish conversations smoother.
Irish conversation starters
-It looks like rain
Probably one of the most common statements in Ireland. Even if it’s the middle of summer and 30 degrees outside you will still probably hear somebody say this.
Irish people have a love/hate relationship with the rain. Talking about it, while not something we enjoy, definitely occurs more often than we like to admit.
The mere mention of rain in a shop, the pub or on the street is one way to initiate a conversation.
-Any plans for the weekend?
Yet another basic stalling question, again you don’t have to remember as it won’t impact anything on your plans.
-Was it a good service?
More for the older generation this one can be used after a christening or a wedding and sometimes a funeral, but that one is probably best to avoid.
What we are talking about here is of course Mass. Now I don’t know what constitutes a good service but it can work. I would only use it mainly if you find yourself in a bar with big celebrations going on.
-Conas atá tú
“How are you?” but in Irish. This will make you look pretty good in front of the locals. Just don’t expect a reply, a whole lot of us cannot speak Irish unfortunately.
Check this out to see how it sounds.
-Did you see the game last night
This could be GAA, soccer or Rugby. You don’t need to have seen the game but just have a vague understanding of what went on.
American football, cricket etc are not popular in Ireland so its best not to mention these. Nobody will know what you are talking about. I don’t follow sports myself but I’ve used this a lot. It most likely doesn’t more though as I can’t even fake interest.
-Did you hear about yer man/yer wan
This only works if you know about some of the latest gossips in the area or if you have seen a popular video about a famous personality. Always a great way to start a conversation with the local barman. This is ideal for expats who have been living in the area for a while also.
Saying your man or yer wan leaves a bit of mystery for people to decipher during the conversation.
-The roads are shocking around here
Even if you find the roads and driving perfectly fine, just like the rain, Irish people love talking about roads. This works very well in the countryside or if you have seen some nearby roadworks.
It’s a great way to try and blend in like a local.
-The banks are s****
You can start to see a similarity between some of these. Complaining in Ireland could be a national pastime. The banks are another area that can come in for some negative remarks. This also work s great with the government.
Mentioning tax, the bailout or rent will give you extra points.
-Did you see the guards stopping again…?
Helpful if you have actually seen them stopping cars nearby. Mention tax or insurance as well for added exposure. Another one for expats, you should also comment on how this doesn’t happen in your home country.
Guards are the Irish police force, usually talking about their work or presence can start a conversation as well. Our police are pretty chill and they enjoy a good conversion to. So if you see one not working to much feel free to approach them.
-Where would I find the best pint?
This is an easy one and can be used anywhere and at anytime. Perfect if you’re looking for Guinness.
It’s Great for making some small talk with the older generation as well, some people are very strict and religious about where is good for a pint.
You will probably find yourself using this without even realizing.
Can be used when you see someone drunk doing something incredibly stupid. Perfect for any night out.
If you happen to catch see an argument on TV be it in sports or on a TV show it can also be used.
-Where would be good to go tonight?
Another standard one. Always good to try out with your Taxi driver or receptionist at your accommodation.
Also if you get in with a group of locals you might get invited along for a party.
This simply means “How are you or what are you up to?” Don’t worry it has nothing to do with the drug although if you are American expect some comments.
-Do you have a lighter?
Used in every smoking area across the country. Just be sure to hand it back as people are very protective. It is even better if you have a lighter to hand out, that way you can be the focal point of attention.
-Do you prefer Dublin?
Works when visiting anywhere outside of Dublin. This may sometimes
Country people (anywhere outside of Dublin, according to them) and Dubs have a love/hate relationship.
-Tis awful cold/wet!
This is the same as the rain situation. Actually, almost any comment about the weather will start any Irish conversation.
-Hows she cutting?
“How are you doing?” Popular in the rural areas.
-Up to much lately?
This is used when talking to someone you have not seen in a long time. This can range from months to years.
The vast majority of the time you don’t care, but it’s nice to be nice.
So I hope you found some of these Irish conversation starters useful. Although basic they almost always work. So enjoy your visit to Ireland and meeting some locals.