Ireland Time

One thing I have learned since moving to Ireland is that culturally the notion of time is different. There are practical and historical precedents for this, so this post is not an attempt to compare the two, but rather just to point it out and save tourists and expats some confusion. :)

Here, I have noticed that most stores open at 9am and then close around 6pm to 7pm. This includes grocery stores, so be careful. If you need to purchase something later, and your store is closed, you may have to make do with shopping at Spar, a local convenience-store chain open 24 hours.

There are two general exceptions to this:

  • Thursday nights, stores tend to stay open much later. Often the same store you know will be open to 8pm or even later. This is probably to allow people to get in some last minute shopping before Friday, when they may be going on vacation.
  • Sunday mornings. Given the traditional Christian culture here, Ireland virtually shuts down on Sunday mornings until about noon. You’ll find some coffee shops or cafes open, such as Insomnia or Starbucks, but even these open much later than other days.

Also, lunch breaks here are still strictly observed, unlike the US where people often eat through lunch.* You’ll often see post-offices or other public venues closed for an hour during lunch time. At my own office, we largely stop working for an hour, gather around the lunch room and talk politics and such until everyone’s done. :)

So, bear this all in mind when visiting Ireland. Enjoy!


* – I often did this, and found myself more frazzled and tired than if I did take a break. Taking a break also allowed me to study Japanese, or just read a good Buddhist book (or a good Roger Zelazny sci-fi). I like the culturally enforced lunch-breaks in Ireland, but sometimes I also miss the more individual lunch time I observed in the US rather than the communal one. Sometimes I want to hang out with people, but other times I’d rather work on personal projects. :)