Ireland- Pub Etiquette question

Hi fellow travellers- I have a question- I have been reading a lot before my first Ireland trip and I read someplace that it is not commonplace to tip at the pub. Is this true? So for food and drinks no tip? That is so weird to me.... Also, I read in Fodor's its good form to buy a round of drinks for the people sitting next to you in the bar- is this really common? Even if I don't know them? I heard the Irish are extremely nice and love to talk, and I'd love to partake in the conversations. Any other thoughts on pub etiquette are welcomed!
Thanks in advance :)

Posted by Debra
Celina, TX, USA
93 posts

If you sit at the bar or get your own drink, no. You might give the waiter the change left from buying a drink, but don't expect them to pick it up, if left on the table. If you sit at the bar, it is surprising how many conversations you may have. Giving up a stool is a sure fire way make an acquaintance. My husband gave his stool to a wife of a couple and for the rest of the evening we were treated to our drinks and delightful conversation.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

It is not customary to tip at pubs. We were once followed out of a pub by a server who was trying to return the change we "forgot" on the table. If you sit at a table, people will assume you want to be left alone. If you sit at the bar, you invite conversation.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

Buying drinks- if you are at the bar and get involved with someone, or a samll group, follow their lead. Probably someone will buy a drink for the group, and then at some stage it is your turn; one-on-one with one or two people, you can offer to buy a round when their (or your) drinks get low. Everyone at the bar- ? why? Dont believe everything you read

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
773 posts

A possible exception to no tipping is if you are getting table service, but that would be a rare thing for drinks alone. The traditional way of effectively offering a tip to bar staff is to add 'and one for yourself' at the end of an order to a round. However, this is by no means expected.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2371 posts

Probably worth mentioning that depending on the pub, service may be only at the bar. If you want a table, you are free to grab one, but will need to go up to the bar to get a drink or order food. The exception would be if there is a hostess or waiter to seat you, then you can expect service at the table. Often though the table service area may be separated from the bar.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1558 posts

OMG, am laughing really out loud. First trip with my lovely, clueless son who said he was graduating college with something " cum laude" he thought it maybe was good! Go to pub and tell him it is custom to buy a round for people you are with. I gave him all of the money I had, about one hundred fifty euro. Next day asked him for my change, he had none. He had treated the whole bar to drinks. Needless to say, the next day in same pub, many patrons said, " oh, you're Rob's mom aren't you. Just treat people you are next to, learn from my experience!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

@Gail, After reading your post, I was also "laughing really out loud"! It sounds like the "cum laude" didn't include etiquette in Irish Bars? Nothing like being generous with Mom's travel funds. @Kristin, I don't know if it's "common" to buy a round of drinks for the people sitting next to you. I usually sit at the Bar and that's not something I recall ever doing. I suspect this is a situation that you'll have to "play by ear". If I was chatting with people at the Bar and they bought me a pint, I'd certainly return the favour. However, I'm on a Pension and CAN NOT AFFORD to buy a "round for the house", regardless of what Fodor's says! Yes, the Irish do love to talk and have a long history of doing so (ie: the Blarney Stone). On my last trip to Dublin, the Taxi driver talked continuously from the airport to my Hotel. I learned lots about Ireland during that ride! Happy travels!

Posted by Kristen
Burnsville, Minnesota, USA
9 posts

hehe thanks all for the advice, I like the story of your generous son! SO, to clarify, no tip expected at bar, but what about table service, like for dinner? Tip waiter for dinner??

Posted by Kristen
Burnsville, Minnesota, USA
9 posts

My husband just wondered- are there typically happy hour specials like here??

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Kristen, I don't recall any "happy hours" in Irish Pubs? You may find it helpful to have a look at THIS WEBSITE for further information on the subject. The section on Pubs is pretty much what I recall. This discussion might prompt me to head to the local "watering hole" this afternoon for a pint of Guinness! Cheers!

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2010 posts

If you think not leaving a tip is weird wait to you see entire families including babies in pubs. Different country, totally different customs. No Happy Hours. They don't stay open until 2am. Might behove you to read Rick's Ireland guide so other differences don't come as a shock to your American made senses. This pretty much explains Irish pub etiquette. The Irish are damn serious about the Guinness pour and rightfully so. Nectar of the Gods. Let it settle. Slainte

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

This happened to us in Paris, not Ireland, but it was at Galways Irish Pub, and it was an Irish couple at table next to us who we started chatting with. We were surprised that they started buying our drinks, so of course took next turn,, and then they bought the guitar player who was performing drinks, so we took our turn, I have no idea what the french folks thought but we didn't care, the four of us had a great time, as did the guitar player who then sat with us during his breaks, we 4 ended up closing up the bar, and having a great night, the Irish couple were like the nicest people ever, the young man pulled out a picture of his tractor and was so proud, and his fiance was telling us all about her moms B@B called the "Ave Maria" and how we must come a visit, we parted that night with all hugs.. great folks the Irish.

Posted by Debe
Westport, Ireland
80 posts

It is not common at all to buy the folks next to you at the bar drinks. The round system is done here...if out with friends. But is it not a given...if you are short on money you just state at the start that you will take care of your own. If you are at the bar and strike up a conversation (yes the Irish do love to chat) and you are offered a all one for them on the next round :) The only place I have encountered 'happy hour' specials was in Belfast near Queens University. If you like to talk then you are coming to the right place!! Enjoy :)

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

No tipping. If you strike up a conversation and someone buys you a drink, I consider it bad form not to buy them their next drink. It's harder to avoid a conversation in an Irish Pub than to get into one. People are friendly and curious; it's like going to a family reunion.

Posted by Sherri
Goleen, Co Cork, Ireland
69 posts

As everyone is saying there's no tipping on drinks at the pub but you Do tip for food! Food ordered and delivered to your table is tipped, not 15-20 percent but around 10 percent or so. It is very much appreciated by the wait staff and in many places it's shared with the bar and kitchen staff. Enjoy your trip!