Sláinte! Cuisine and Dining Protocol in Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, courtesy of Shane Jones

If Ireland isn’t already at the top of your “must-see” list, it should be! From its bustling cities to the sweeping Cliffs of Moher, and even more dynamic culture and people, Ireland has something to offer to every type of traveler. To help you prepare for your travels, we bring you a guest post from Shane Patrick Jones, with some firsthand tips about cuisine and dining protocol in Ireland. If you weren’t hungry before, we’re pretty sure you will be after reading this!

Don’t forget to also check out how you can study abroad, volunteer abroad, or intern abroad in Ireland.

When you’re visiting a new country and experiencing an unfamiliar culture, it’s an exciting and mind-altering journey. Visiting a country like Ireland, whether it’s for a vacation (there’s a little history of my bucket list trip to Ireland here) or a study abroad opportunity, means learning about cultural traditions that are different from yours.

Food is one of the biggest, most enjoyable parts of a culture, and Ireland has plenty of unique cuisine options and dining experiences! Let’s look at a few of the recipes and dining habits you might see.

Familiar Faces

Ireland has plenty of fresh food stacked throughout markets, and a lot of it might be recognizable to you. You’ll see colorful counters with cabbage, leeks and potatoes, as well as a large variety of seafood (cod, salmon, lobster, crab, etc.).

You’ll see butcher shops with pork ribs, ham, bacon and sirloin, so there are plenty of universal meats and vegetables to eat!

Be Adventurous

While you’re visiting or studying in Ireland, there are various cuisine options that should satisfy you. But with plenty of food traditions and exotic recipes throughout the country, you can try new foods and gain new experiences. Here are some traditional Irish recipes you can try:


Irish Breakfast Foods

Irish Breakfast Foods, courtesy of Shane Jones

Crubeens—pigs feet cooked until tender and crisped in the oven—have a deep-rooted history in Ireland. In the past, their salty, bacon-like taste made them the perfect finger food for street stands and bars—and also the perfect complement for a pint of stout!

But nowadays, crubeens are beginning to appear on the menus of high-end restaurants. If you travel to the south of Ireland, you may still find them in pubs, but either way, the rich meat and fried coating make them a delicious snack. Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own batch of crubeens!


Drisheen is a variety of the Irish delicacy, black pudding. Black pudding is not a creamy dessert like most Americans think—it’s actually a sausage made from pig’s blood and spices. Drisheen is a specific type of black pudding that consists of beef and sheep’s blood, and it’s poached in milk.

This dish is commonly served in Cork, a city in southwest Ireland. It’s usually paired with beef tripe, which comes from the stomach and simmers in milk and onions. If you want to be adventurous, go into an Irish café and try drisheen and tripe!

Irish Soda Bread

Originally, bread soda was introduced in Ireland for people who didn’t have an oven. They typically cooked the bread in a cast-iron pot with a lid.

Many Americans have tried to recreate the recipe, but in Ireland, they stick to four simple ingredients for this traditional table bread: flour, bread soda, buttermilk and salt.

Bread soda was a common household bread in Ireland throughout the centuries, and you can still find it today.

Dining Etiquette

Like any culture, Ireland has distinct ways of approaching dining, so it’s important to recognize the cultural differences.

  • Business dinners are viewed as more of a social occasion. So if you’re eating with business, it’s typically Dining in Irelandconsidered a way to develop relationships.

  • Small plate next to your dinner plate? If you see this, it’s probably a plate for the peelings you removed from your boiled potatoes.

  • Eat everything served to you. In the Irish culture, if you’re eating in a private home, it’s polite to eat everything served to you.

  • Don’t refuse a drink. This is typically viewed as an insult in Ireland.

  • Most restaurants will include a service charge. If you’re worried about tipping, most restaurants in Ireland include a service charge in the bill, so you don’t have to leave an additional tip.

Dining in Ireland can be fun and exciting if you’re willing to be adventurous! But if you’re planning to steer clear of traditional Irish delicacies, be confident knowing that Ireland has dining options for everyone.

Shane Patrick Jones is obsessive bucket lister, pursuing the perfect life of cultural experiences, exquisite delicacies, and overseas adventures.  A big thanks to his company WebpageFX for providing him with the time to do it through their very gracious travel policies! Follow Shane on Google+

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3 Responses to “Sláinte! Cuisine and Dining Protocol in Ireland”

  1. Kimberly
    Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 11:35 #

    Ah, the Cliffs of Moher! Majestic.

    • Shane
      Friday, 12 July 2013 at 2:05 #

      They were SOOOO majestic in person! I had trouble walking away from it!


  1. Much Ado About Going Abroad: Affording a Stay at Ashford Castle | - Thursday, 13 March 2014

    […] you recognize cultural differences and be polite. It is a courtesy to eat everything served to you. Eating in Ireland is a social experience so be prepared to mingle. Keep in mind that most meals include a service charge, so tipping […]