An Guide To The Irish Goodbye

An Guide To The Irish Goodbye

Goodbyes In Ireland:

Let’s call a spade a spade. If you grew up in Ireland, chances are you quickly learned that trying to leave or saying goodbye at any kind of gathering was usually a painful, seemingly never-ending affair. This can be attributed to the typically sociable, hospitable and chatty nature of the Irish.

Yet an ‘Irish goodbye’ is generally understood to refer to the act of quietly leaving a gathering or event without saying goodbye or informing anyone of your departure.

The idea of the quick exit is presumably to avoid the customary, seemingly endless ceremony of saying goodbye in Ireland. Evidence of just how pervasive this is observable in the simple, everyday act of trying to say goodbye to your Irish Mother towards then end of a phone call . If you’re not still on the line at least 5 minutes later, listening to her heavily criticize ‘Cathleen from up the road’, or being informed of the death of an elderly local who’d you’d never heard of until that very conversation, I’d question whether she was Irish at all.


So What’s Actually Irish About The Irish Goodbye?

There are a few theories around the term’s origin – one of which proposes that it came from The Great Famine. It’s been suggested that to avoid heart-breaking, emotional goodbyes, some emigrating Irish would leave quietly – often for America - without telling anybody.

But there’s another theory…..

A perhaps more common explanation for the term lies with Ireland’s unofficial national pastime – drinking. The theory here is pretty simple. The perpetrator of the Irish goodbye finds themselves inebriated to the point that they fear further interaction with their peers will result in either public embarrassment, or a revelation to the entire party of just how outrageously loaded they’d gotten themselves by only 8.30pm.

An ‘Irish Goodbye’ executed with perfect form.

An ‘Irish Goodbye’ executed with perfect form.

Hey, Have You Seen Kevin?!

In these situations the prudent move is to quietly order your Uber, and lurch violently out the door without so much as a word to anyone. If an Irish person tells you they haven’t done this at least once, there’s a good chance they’re lying.

The lesson here is simple: Irish Goodbyes are a tool to be used only when necessary, and should not be considered rude when the priority has shifted from social etiquette to self-preservation. If however you’re capable of saying goodbye without becoming an immediate source of humour or concern, then you should do so.


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