Are you familiar with Irish culture and traditions? Have you ever wondered what core values create the foundation for Irish culture?
Ireland resides between the Atlantic Ocean and the United Kingdom. Also known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland has a rich and long history.
Even today, the people of Ireland celebrate their past through traditional dance, language, and Irish music.
Let's take a look at some core values in Irish culture.
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Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.
Phonetic Pronunciation: Teer gon chonga, teer gon on-um.
In English, it means
A country without a language, a country without a soul.
For many in Ireland today, our language is merely a symbol of our identity, but Patrick Pearse knew that it communicates the soul of who we are as a people.
Thankfully, the Irish language is still spoken in parts of Ireland known as the Gaeltacht and is a vital part of our national living heritage.
Love Of Literature
Irish people highly regard the written and spoken word. Witty and intelligent use of language is truly an Irish virtue. Anyone who can put words together in romantic or lyrical prose or poetry is revered.
Many award-winning and world-renowned authors and writers have hailed from Ireland.
Joyce, Yeats, and Swift are but a few of our great Irish writers. In Wise Old Words, we will examine some of the tales and sayings that have survived to this very day.
There are even a few well-known Irish authors you have probably heard of or even read.
Language is just one example of a core value in Irish culture; Irish people hold creativity in high regard in many different forms. Irish artists preserved much of the country's culture, and history reverberates through many art forms, including paintings, poems, and tales.
Today artistic expression remains of great value in Irish culture. Children learn to play traditional Irish instruments to carry on Celtic customs. Art, music, and linguistic traditions are woven throughout Ireland and passed down to future generations.
For example, traditional Irish music is known worldwide for its lilting melodies and unique singing style. When Irish people hear traditional Irish music and songs, they can't help but dance! Plus, in Irish culture, different songs are written for different kinds of dances.
The history of Irish dance is fascinating. Perhaps you have been to a feis and seen Irish dancers perform in their curly wigs and beautiful costumes. They wear soft or hard shoes to take to the stage to perform coordinated traditional dances at Irish heritage festivals, dance shows, or competitions.
Creativity and expression remain a focal point and are profoundly rooted in Irish culture today.
Friendship and Warmth
The Irish demeanor is open and warm. Public displays of emotion and affection are not as evident in Irish culture. Demonstrative hugs and loud introductions are less common than in other countries, but the Irish welcome others through their warm smiles, and engaging conversations.
The people of Ireland value generosity. You can find this within Irish pubs where one person will buy a round of drinks, which another will later reciprocate.
Pubs are an important meeting place in Ireland, and their social role goes beyond simply having a drink. In Irish culture, they are a place for friends and families to come together, interact, enjoy conversation, and spend time together.
Pubs are where the Irish love of stories, jokes, tales, and music continues to grow.
Irish families value one another, and they respect their family members and value communication. But beyond valuing their close relationships with one another, the people of Ireland also cherish their family history and heritage.
Knowing your extended family and your cousins is vital to Irish people. At weddings, families celebrate, with many generations joining in the festivities.
Irish traditions are passed down from generation to generation through music, dance, storytelling, and even food.
The cultural values of Ireland include faith. Ireland was primarily a Catholic country in years gone by, with 90% of the population claiming to be Catholic in the Republic of Ireland in the last century.
Every evening the national television station airs the bells of the angelus at 6 pm each evening. Tolling bells accompany a one-minute video as a call to prayer for Catholics.
When the people of Ireland gave their opinion on whether this tradition is outdated now that Ireland is a more diverse country, the majority wished to continue with the practice.
There is a rich tradition of Catholic pilgrimages in Ireland, whether visiting holy wells, Marian Shrines, or culturally significant spiritual locations.
This sacred site is part of the Celtic spiritual pilgrimage at Lughnasadh, and Reek Sunday has its origins in this ancient festival.
Religion and faith over the centuries have played a significant role in the evolution of Irish history and culture.
The Irish value humor and love a good joke. If you visit Ireland and someone begins to throw a joke your way, be receptive, as the Irish appreciate banter and joking as a way to build rapport.
Especially at a local pub, if someone "slags'' you or, in other words, jokingly insults you, avoid taking it to heart. Slagging is never ill-intended; it is simply a means to break down barriers and begin a conversation.
The Irish people love to partake in witty humor, sarcasm, and even insults and teasing known as "slagging." Different cultures might think this practice is hurtful, but the Irish do not take slagging negatively or seriously.
Good humor is a way to create warmth and connection among one another, forming close relationships and building solid connections during social events.
Irish people to not like to brag. We are a very modest people, and those that are seen to "toot their own horn" or "blow their own trumpet" are sometimes frowned upon.
Because the Irish like others to be modest, they tend to be be suspicious of those who speak too loudly and boast about themselves.
This may be related to the fact that Ireland was part of the British Empire for many centuries, and the native Irish people were frowned upon and made to feel inferior to their British rulers.
Anyone with a superiority complex, or who tries to lord it over someone else, tends to be taken less seriously than the person who is modest.
Anyone discussing their professional achievements is advised not to embark on a conceited, self-cenred diatribe about their successes.
Death is not hidden away in Irish culture, but is openly embraced as a part of life.
When a loved one passes away, Irish people come together at a wake, to celebrate the person's life and legacy.
People sing songs and share stories about the person who has passed on.
Family burial sites are common and Irish people often plan where they will be buried, when they are alive and well. The Irish often visit graveyards to pray for those who have departed, and contemplate their memory.
These traditions around death underscore the value of family and friendship in Irish culture.
Exploring Irish Culture
These are only a few core values found in Irish culture. If you're interested in taking a deeper dive into any aspect of Irish culture, you might enjoy one of these articles:
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Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade