From Ireland With Love | What Not To Say To An Irish Person On St. Patrick’s Day

Ah St. Patrick’s Day, that annual worldwide céilí celebrating all things Irish. Everyone becomes Irish and everything turns green on this one day each year. It’s a day full of shenanigans and shillelaghs. And of course we can’t forget the man of the hour, St. Patrick himself, rocking a blue (surprisingly St. Patrick never wore green) robe while spreading the Christian faith with a shamrock and banishing the snakes from this country. With all the festivities however, there are some things I hear around this time of year that make me think, “what? serioulsy?!” Here’s a tongue in cheek take on what not to say to an Irish person on St. Patrick’s Day (or maybe any day of the year really 😛).

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Who’s Patty? Did St. Patrick have a sex change while I wasn’t looking and is now known as Patricia? Maybe it’s our fault with our accents that Paddy sounds like Patty. So for future reference it’s Paddy’s Day, not Patty’s Day.

Top of the morning to ya!

What century is this? We don’t greet each other or talk to each other like this. Although this one could be our fault also. Sometimes we like to play up to the Irish stereotype. But don’t, just don’t go there 😛

Every St. Patrick’s Day I eat corned beef and cabbage.

I’ve recently learned where this comes from but corned beef and cabbage is not an authentic Irish dish. We have never eaten corned beef and cabbage. The proper dish is bacon and cabbage. Seemingly corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-Americans during the nineteenth century.

So where do the leprechauns live?

I’m beginning to see a pattern here. This one is probably our fault too. We like to tell stories of myths and legends and some people can’t seem to take in that it’s made up.

I recall giving a tour two years ago and telling my group about a local cave known as the Leprechaun Mill. The story goes that farmers used to bring their corn there to be ground and they would collect it the following morning. Unfortunately the leprechauns aren’t doing much business now and they’re only grinding corn for their own kind. Legend has it that you can still hear the rumblings of the mill but not believers maintain that it’s just the sound of the water passing underground by the cave.

After the tour one of the people in my group asked me what do these leprechauns look like. I explained how they’re small people with red hair and beards and they wear a green coat, trousers and top hat, but they don’t exist. She looked a little confused and said that I just told her that they lived at the Leprechaun Mill. I said yes but it’s just a myth, a legend. I thought she might be joking with with but no, she was deadly serious.

It would be interesting if these little creatures did exist. There would be a lot more people chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But just to reiterate, leprechauns do not exist!


This last one I’ll give over to you. I want you to tell me if anyone has ever said anything to you about being Irish that slightly annoyed you or if you’ve ever said anything to an Irish person about Irish stereotypes. Spill the beans, you know you want to 😉

Do you enjoy St. Patrick’s Day? Have you ever celebrated it in Ireland? Have you ever said any of these to an Irish person? If you’re Irish have you ever had any of these said to you? Do you have any Irish ancestry? Happy St. Patrick’s Day wherever you are in the world!

St. Patrick's Day, the one day a year where everyone wants to be Irish. Here's a tongue in cheek take on what not to say to an Irish person on St. Patrick's Day.

2 thoughts on “From Ireland With Love | What Not To Say To An Irish Person On St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. I REALLY offended an Irish person on a language website, and am looking around on the internet to educate myself and avoid this in future. I’m learning Irish, which is a very difficult language (for me, at least), and I quipped that there must be a causal relationship between the language and drinking, but in which direction? Did they invent the language while under the influence, or did they take up drinking because of the stress of having to learn it? As an American of Irish descent (with a fair amount of alcoholism in the family tree) I’m used to this being just a joke in America, but I can absolutely see how it was offensive to him. Would it have bothered most Irish? I also have listened to Irish music for years, and beer and whiskey are themes, but I can imagine that if you grew up with English stereotypes of the Irish, it would feel quite different from Americans of my age, who have never really experienced discrimination or stigma for Irish ancestry.

    The next offense might just have been because I’d already come across as a bigot, but I commented that an Irish expression for “heading east” was quite beautiful in its literal sense of giving one’s face to the east. The same person was quite angry, saying that to call “beautiful” an oddity of another language which is prosaic to native speakers is “presumptuous.” He asked if I would ever have called a comparable English phrase “beautiful”– honestly, I believe I would, if it struck me. On the other hand, black Americans would be rightly angered if I complimented minstrelsy,, and calling a black politician “articulate” is a well-known racist dog whistle (the assumption being that there’s something extraordinary about a black person being well-spoken).

    So I’m really interested in feedback and guidance, if anyone cares to give it. I hope to visit Ireland, and don’t want to go around pissing everyone off or hurting feelings. Thanks.


    1. I’m sorry to hear that Joan. It’s difficult to know what to do. In general us Irish don’t take ourselves too seriously and we can laugh at ourselves. This post was a tongue in cheek post and meant to be a bit of a laugh 😊

      Personally I don’t like the drunken Irish stereotype, if someone commented in passing I wouldn’t take much notice but if someone was being nasty that would be different. It all depends on the context.

      I think people take offense too easily nowadays. Maybe I’m being naive. I wouldn’t worry, just enjoy your time here when you do visit. If there’s anything I can do to help when you start planning please don’t hesitate to contact me 😊


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