Saying goodbye and departing a friend’s home may be a simple act in America, but in Ireland there is an unwritten code of honor that guides farewell rituals.
There are superstitions that must be adhered to, or God forbid you may draw some form of ill fate upon your unsuspecting self.
I always remember my mother’s superstitions about a first visit to a new friend’s home.
She advised me to always leave by the door through which I first entered.
I have arrived at parties in the U.S. where all the guests are streaming through an open garage door. Try as I might to forget obsolete traditions of my youth, my unwilling feet always lead me to the front door of each and every home I visit.
I find it very difficult to arrive non-chalantly through a back door with an enthusiastic announcement of my arrival. For me, the ding dong of a door bell wards off those bad luck spirits ruling over ancient Irish greeting rituals.
And then of course there is the issue of which door I may leave through without bringing ill luck my way.
My mother’s words return and you know you should never ignore your mother.
Leave by the door through which you entered on your first visit to a home.
If I go in through an open garage when I arrive in daylight, it can be a little awkward to ask to exit through the garage, if it’s all closed up at the end of a night’s festivities.
Oh the dilemmas of carrying old cultural ways all the way to a new land.
And then there is the whole drama of bidding farewell to guests in my own home.
Unsuspecting American guests might announce they are about to leave, and try to slip out the back door or through the yard unnoticed.
Not in my Irish American home!
Guests must be escorted to the front door for a proper goodbye and thank you. Even my kids know they should join the farewell party as we move out to the porch.
Into the bargain we stand there and wave goodbye as your car departs down the street. Our front door does not close until you have officially departed. I know my neighbors think I’m crazy, but what can I say. I’m Irish.
In Ireland farewells can go on and on. Deep conversations are launched at the door. A quick exit is very difficult, so plan your departure with plenty of time to spare.
Now recently I learned of an American term called ‘an Irish goodbye’. This phenomenon is also called ghosting, and refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells.
I never heard of this expression in Ireland. Perhaps it evolved in the U.S., as those in the know slipped out the back door, to avoid the infamously prolonged real Irish goodbye.
Shakespeare may have summed it all up when he said “parting is such sweet sorrow,” but in Ireland parting is full of superstition, and endless chat.
If you know of any other Irish superstitions regarding the rituals of coming and going, please feel free to tell us in the comment section below.
And so, without any more fuss, I bid you all farewell this cold and wintery January evening.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)