Following on from our post about The Brehon laws, our Guest Relations Manager, Danny McClure saw this blog post and we thought it would be very appropriate to share this with you. This article aims to explain why the tradition of hospitality is so engrained in the Irish culture. We hope you enjoy it!
I remember returning home to Ireland after almost two years
travelling back in 2007. I got as far as Heathrow and joined the
check-in queue for an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. The flight was
subsequently delayed and I recall smiling as I noticed the sound level
of conversation beginning to steadily rise. Irish people who had been
strangers a short time earlier were now exchanging the latest travel
news and engaged in friendly chat.
why are Irish people among the friendliest in the Western world? I’ve
always had an interest in ancient Irish history and culture which helps
shines a light on a possible reason for one of our most enduring and
popular character traits.
It turns out that in ancient Ireland, hospitality was mandated by
law. Welcoming a stranger was an enforced cultural norm with a detailed
set of customary guidelines. To refuse hospitality was to risk being
shunned and sanctioned. This might seem a tad draconian and archaic
nowadays, but there were several practical reasons for this law.
Ireland had no towns or major roads and areas were isolated by
mountains, vast boggy marshes and huge forests. Encouraging a culture of
hospitality promoted travel, trade and the exchange of new ideas,
crafts and traditional arts. This led to a very vibrant rural society in
ancient Ireland and helped forge a unified cultural identity.
could arrive unannounced at the door of any Irish homestead and be
expected to be provided with hot water, a warm meal of meat and veg, a
clean bed of straw and entertained with music, poetry, songs and stories
by the fireside. This custom is reflected in the Irish language in one
of the most popular phrases, céad míle fáilte, which translated means ‘a hundred thousand welcomes.’
I believe that this ancient code of hospitality has left a cultural
imprint on Irish people who came to recognise the mutual advantages that
come with a friendly and outgoing disposition and giving strangers a
This might be the perfect time to visit Ireland and
experience the warmth, wit and hospitality of its people for yourself,
in this year of the Gathering 2013.