How to make friends in Ireland

We have been talking about loneliness when you are abroad, let's now talk about how to make friends (locals and other expats) when you're living in Ireland :top:

Which are your best tips to meet people and to make friends in Ireland??

Thanks in advance for your participation

Well, andesmec, yes Irish people are very involved with their families. But this can sometimes help you get involved, if you have kids that is!
This is kind of a shameless plug for a fab Guest-blogger on my blog who just posted about this issue of making friends in Ireland through your kids' activities  - and especially through getting involved with the GAA ( Irish sporting organisation)

Barbara's post is here,hope it helps someone!

Irish people are pretty clique-y. Irish women even more so. They also don't tend to be particularly personal. Friendships can be surface level and remain so for years. Maybe this has a lot to do with socialization taking place almost exclusively in the pub? It's made my Irish partner quite sad to see how close I am with my friends in comparison to how close his own friends are.

Sadly I have few Irish friends, even 3 years in. Closest friends I have are ex-pats (not only Americans) and seem to feel the same way about making friends with the Irish.

If you have kids, its easier. Go to play groups. Get involved. Be yourself from the start. Try online rollercoaster.ie, babywearingireland.com to see if anything is going on near you. I recently started volunteering with Foroige (its a youth organization) to get involved in the community.

Im trying to setup a meet new people in Kildare,
Meet new people in Kildare, Every Tuesday 7:30pm at Cunninghams Pub Market Square Kildare, Co. Kildare - I'll be a the table with the meetup sigh - welcome all :)

Hi Jaymeist,

maybe you should start a new discussion about the meet up ?

Making friends in Ireland is not an easy thing to do. Irish people seem suspicious of 'outsiders' (and I say that as a returned - and soon to leave! - Irishperson).

I have two children and I still found it hard. My Irish friends are either people I went to school with and kept in touch with while I was away or people I met through mothering organisations like the Home Birth Association.

There are plenty of people who will nod and smile - and even stop and chat - when they see me at the school. But only one has ever invited me to her home (after 3 years of attending the school with two children).

Irish people don't open their homes the way other nationalities did. And they don't have dinner parties the way other people do. In fact, once they go beyond the student years, they don't seem to have parties at all!!

I have tried to host dinner parties, but people think nothing of cancelling at the last minute or even not turning up at all.  Not exactly mannerly.

H.

Well, in the begining I had the same problem - i knew only 1 person on island. Everything was new, unknown. And it was raining over and over :) It has changed when I've found a job. First few weeks was hard. I've found some friends, but basically not Irish.

The one thing that will never change is I'm foregin. Sometimes at work I can see the difference between being an Irish and being a foregin. Fortunately, not every Irish act this way :)

hi everyone, like alot of you, i have found it very difficult to make REAL friends here in ireland and i had irish parents, came here to my nans every summer as a child and LOVED it, but now im so lonely and miss my fantastic english friends SO MUCH that my heart nearly breaks. after my father died 3 yers ago and the funeral was over i bearly saw or was contacted by my extended family or people whom i thought were my friends, and as a single parent that was so difficult to deal with that if it were not for being able to talk to my english friends on the phone i think i may have had a break down. it seems to me irish people, women in particular, would rather do every thing with their family and "friend" to them just means someone you chat to or drinking pals!many of them seem close to their mothers even well into adulthood and then sisters aunts etc., to the point they just dont seem to NEED close friends. if it werent for my irish boyfriend me and my son would be completly ALONE here.luckily he wants to move to england withmyson and i ashe really liked my home town when he visited. even my 11year old son, who is really sociable and whose english matesare still in touch, has only one real mate.and he could make friends with a wall!i think its just that they are so entwined with their families that they dont feel the need for outside friedship that much.

hi caraj. in terms of practicality your suggestion makes sense, but friendship is an emotional issue( for me any way!)and bereavement even more so. im afraid i just want to go home.i have a feeling i could get to know many people here but that it would be unlikely to form the deep frienships i have at home.im not the only ex pat that feels this way.we saw an occupational therapist recently; she has been living here for 11 years with her husband and children, has family here that dont bother with them(like me) and would move back to england in a second if she could! and working in the health sector she must meet scores of people yet she told us that they havent made ONE real friend. i cant speak for other countries as i only have experience of ireland. and apparently MANY english expats find the same thing. i personally just feel that the native irish (as opposed to us second generationers), just do not "do" friends.

I'ts natural that birds of a feather flock together. I don't blame anyone to think it twice or more times before getting involved in new friendship especialy with foreigners. I am sure that honesty is the best policy and once you really show that you are honest in what you say and what you do, you surely will be trusted and friendship will come naturally.
I, myself am moving to Ireland on the 23rd October 2012 to try to find a job and get my family there from Portugal where we are at present. I would like to make honest friends from Killarney Co Kerry as this is the place where we would like to buy our house and open a little family business in the future. If possible it would be a great idea if I find the job there as to  familiarize myself with the new environment. In sports terms I'm also an Olympic Weightlifting coach which I intend to continue doing through the Irish Weightlifting Federation. I would appreciate very much any help from anyone in Killarney or Dublin.

Hi, to all those who have found it difficult to make satisfying friendships in Ireland.

I am a returning expat and I have found it really hard too. I have joined community groups and classes and have made the most of the occasional person I have met and bonded on the way, and I really value these people. They are often not Irish.

The trouble really seems to stem from the deep privacy and closeness of family. Here, family is everything. Traditionally it has kept you safe in hard times and provided you with support. Family clannishness is form of identity that keeps otherwise vulnerable people strong and closely connected, through tough times. It does however, also provide opportunities for corruption and abuse. Outward appearances hide a great many problems, I think, but silence is the tradition in Ireland.

Friends, especially women, may have loyalties to large sibling groups, who are close to each other, powerful mothers and a lot of competition for people's time, because it takes time to build trust and make a friend! I don't have any family myself. I am an only child and my mother is disabled. Getting out with 2 kids and a limited budget is always hard.

Ireland is still quite rural as well, and again family, farming and country life is more self -contained and harder to connect with. Family loyalties are like those of clans. Personally, I feel I would be better off in a big city, but again loneliness can be an issue too. So I just try to make the best of things. I think of myself as someone who has seen the world, but this has come with a price. I am an outsider, but I am independent and I am wise.

Thank goodness for the internet and the very kind people who do sometimes cross paths with you.

Think of James Joyce who managed to escape Ireland and never wanted to come back. Ireland is not the fairy tale island of blarney and craic it is at pains to portray.

I wish you all luck out there and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this taboo subject in a country otherwise famous for its sociability.
Blowing out....

Irish people are placid and quite reserved but cunning by nature. We normally live life two days at a time (instead of one day). Irish people also try to jack so many tasks into their daily schedule. That's why you often see people running down the street or walking fast. Irish life is more stressful and miserable. Combine this with a really crap climate and life becomes almost Mormomic with people staying indoors and not socializing afterwards.

The cost of going to a restaurant or cafe or pub is just crazy that many consider it financially burdensome to make friends. Some Irish people are unsure of Europeans because they perceive them as the most arrogant race on the planet. Also the negative perceptions of Ireland's past via the right-wing media have hardened Irish attitudes towards certain nationalities. These things run deep.

I am Irish and one of my closet friends is a German girl who stayed with a friend of mine in Belfast for one year. The first day that I met her I was half way out the door and she stopped me and said "I don't know any girls here, want to be friends?" It seems like a primary school way to make friends but I think sometimes people don't realise you want "in" with their group. They assume you have friends at work or something.

Also it's true that Irish don't do dinner parties so often. But we do do tea and "kayleighs" - randomly (though these days people text first) showing up at a friend's house (usually resulting in tea).

Also this might not be an option but if you move into a house or flat with irish people they'll have to get to know you. People search for housemates on websites like Gumtree. I shared my home with an erasmus student when I was in Uni. :)

As an Irish Times Journalist has put it recently: 'Ireland is a local country for local people.'

Visiting this summer for four weeks. I don't want to go on a tour bus. It will be me and my graduate daughter. When she was a freshman in High school, I told her if you get all A's and graduate with Honors. I will take you on a trip any place you want to go. She wants Ireland.
We want to make the trip of a lifetime.

I am an American married to an Irish national and we have moved back to his father's small village in Co. Sligo with our 8 year old daughter.  We wanted to be here so that we could be close to my inlaws and so that our daugher could have the experience of living in Ireland for a while, go to school here, learn some Irish, etc.  I thought it would easily make friends through my daughter and her school the same way we did in the States but it has been such a shock really how insular Irish people are.  No one hardly chats (not just me, not even with any of the others) and the school itself is such a closed door institution.  I was used to being able to volunteer in my daughter's school and there being lots of opportunities to get to know people through the school community.  Not so here.  And I totally agree with the person who said that Irish people don't invite people over for dinner or have parties or open their homes at all....it's a beautiful country but if it weren't for my husband and family, I could go weeks without chatting to anyone except the lady who owns the shop across the street, the butcher etc.  I've taken Salsa lessons, joined the gym, entered items in the local Fall fair, etc. so it's not like I'm not making an effort.  I love Ireland but could never live here in the long term.  Too antisocial...

Right now, the Irish are cynical about everything: nobody trusts nobody.

I have lived in Ireland almost 15 years and in all that time I have not made any friends I have tried, by joining groups ,tried to make friends with my partners friends wives but to no avail.
I work alone so can't make work friends.
Apart from my partner I have no one.

Does anyone know any groups that I can join,that do not consist of old granny's (by this I mean women in their 40's who want to talk about the weather).

I do think it is not just about families to irish women or people,they just don't like anything different,it can be accents,colour of skin or even someone from another village,it's a joke,and they say the Irish are friendly...what poppycock

(moderated:  no free ads please)

I am moving to Ireland with my newlywedded Irish husband in May, and we will be living at Cavan town in Cavan county. I am very international person and enjoy making friends very much. I am getting very nervous, actually a little bit scared, after reading your experiences in this area. Actually I have experienced that people don't open their homes for dinny parties when I was there early this year. Somehow I feel like that I don't fit there. How I can adapt thier culture and still thrive there? By the way, I am Chinese from China. Hope to make some friends soon.

I have been living here for 12 years, in Dublin. I first lived in the centre of town and now in the South of Dublin, and I can confirm that it is quite hard to make Irish friends, but I have made quite a few friends, first through my (Irish) husband's old school friends and then in work. But in work, it took a REALLY long time. First all my friends there were other Europeans (I'm French) and then, little by little I have built friendships with a couple of Irish girls.
One though has admitted that she seems to make a lot of foreign friends, so she is an atypical Irish person in that way, I would say.
The other is your more typical Irish girl, who is very close and involved with her family, but we have bonded over kids and work eventually, after a project we worked on and sweated blood and tears on... It takes this kind of closeness in work or in some other way to finally get to know an Irish person in more depth.

I must say though that I find most Irish people super open and friendly, but then it gets only to a certain level where they don't seem to want to know that much more about your life... I see French people who have arrived only recently in Ireland and they make really deep friendship much more quickly with other Frenchies here, or other foreigners, than they ever do with Irish people...

Jenny Song wrote:

I am moving to Ireland with my newlywedded Irish husband in May, and we will be living at Cavan town in Cavan county. I am very international person and enjoy making friends very much. I am getting very nervous, actually a little bit scared, after reading your experiences in this area. Actually I have experienced that people don't open their homes for dinny parties when I was there early this year. Somehow I feel like that I don't fit there. How I can adapt thier culture and still thrive there? By the way, I am Chinese from China. Hope to make some friends soon.

Hi Jenny,

I'm from Ireland so let me start by saying welcome and congratulations on the wedding!

Yeah, for an international person, moving to a small place like Cavan might seem a bit daunting. I don't know much about Cavan town but I'd say that if you want to meet the locals just talk to people. ask them questions about themselves and be friendly. It scary moving to a new country and a new town, and yes rural Ireland can be varying degrees of parochial but you will find that the towns are less close knit that the villages, the cities more open-minded than the towns. Whatever local people are into, join in and see what happens- learning a bit about GAA will open a few doors for you socially but avoid voicing support for particular teams until you know your audience =) Anyway, welcome and I hope everything works out for you!

-Tom

Hi,

I came to Ireland 12 years ago with my daughter. I find it very difficult to make meaningful friends in Ireland.I meet people through work but i feel that Irish people prefer to stay among themselves. After all the years I have been here I still feel very much of an outsider.

Hi Alice, where in Ireland do you live? I would like to meet you and have a chat.

I have been living here for eight years and the only friends I made was from my own country or the polish people whom are very friendly.

Hi where in Ireland are you,im living in Dublin and would like to meet new people.

Hi,

I'm from Paris (French). Living in Dublin since 2 years now.

One very important thing:

Do not get the bad habit to stay and to go out with the people speaking only your native language. That's the most common mistake people do and it will never help to make friends in Ireland.

This is why I knew some people here in Dublin for many years and they have a very poor English (guess why ? speaking only native language with their friends coming from the same country).

Irish people are very easy going. Sure it will not help a lot if you don't go out drinking sometimes. Avoid city center if you'd like to know the Irish as city center is mainly populated of all the lazy tourists afraid to live far from town lol. C'mon country side is so gorgeous after all heh ? ;)

I had the luck to have some Irish friends, I met them elsewhere than town for sure. I do meet some in town on Sat night but this is not the best option ever as they would come most of the time with their own friends or family and it can be more difficult to chit chat with them and build friendship with in this context unless you're a very good socializer of course ;)

I'm in Dublin 15 and to be honest that's a good place. Decent social places to go and when I really want to go to town, the bus makes the deal and taxi on the way back if it's really late ^^

The feeling describes about you think they prefer to stay with themselves is mostly because when you come to their country you need to reset everything you've known before because it will conduct your behavior in a way slightly different than the Irish one.

Irish communicate for anything, any occasion, any situation. Simply be just opened up :)

No, seriously it's not difficult at all to make some friends in Dublin, Irish or not :)

And don't be shy ! ^^


Kind regards,

Portgas D. Ace
(R.)

Hi Aliceo.
You are a lucky one, at least you have a partner to talk with.. but what about those people who are single? They have no one to talk to, they have no family members around.. To find friends is absolutely impossible in Ireland. I think this island is only for single people...

@Jajji
Nothing is Impossible.

There is a saying "whenever a student is ready a teacher appears."
I think same thing apply to friendship whenever a friend is ready a friend is appeared.

Sorry for that homemade saying. :happy:

It is all about your mindset. If you think that you cannot make friends it wont happen. On that note I wont to share a intresting article, which might brighten your day.

theguardian.com/science/2012/jun/30/self-help-positive-thinking

hello to everyone,any body here having got experience from saudi work then aplly visa from irish embassy and  already working in irish.thnk you,

Smiling does brighten everyone's day!

But it takes more than an engaging smile at strangers to develop friendship in Ireland.

Traditionally, Irish natives tend to be superficially friendly yet impersonal. Folks prefer to socialize in communal, public settings - at a pub or going for a coffee at a cafe. Homes seem to be inner sanctums reserved for family and only the closest of friends.  Natives who have lived in Ireland all or most of their lives are rooted in many close relationships: childhood friends, school mates, colleagues at work, spouses, children, and often very large extended families. Understandably, there rarely is time to devote to nurturing new acquaintances as friends.

This is beginning to change, thanks to work and travel abroad, immigration, foreign influence (casual openness expressed in films and sitcoms, for example). Change, however, comes slowly.

I've lived in Ireland for 5 years now and feel lucky to have three or four close friends. Some of them returned to Ireland after living abroad for many years and are thereby sensitive to an ex-pat's situation. Because I tend to be introspective and can sit for hours reading or writing, I adopted a dog to get me outdoors walking one or two hours every day, rain or shine!

Loneliness is a state of mind. Brooding about it isn't going to lift one's spirits. Planning to do one special thing every day - even alone, however, is sure to please. So get out there and have fun pursuing your interests. In this way one meets like-minded folk who are potential friends.  Even if that doesn't happen, you are likely to enjoy the activity.

Good luck!

I have a partner as well, but he is so involved with his family I barely get to see him. In the States, no one is as close to their family as the Irish are. I'm having a hard time adjusting to it, honestly.

Kl23 and Jenny Song, hang in there! The main thing is not to expect people to invite you to their home, because they won't, even if they like you very much, it's just not in their habits, especially in the country or smaller towns. You will make friends but it takes a long time. Irish people are usually respectful of other nationalities and races but they are not that used to having foreigners on their soil, it's the first generation that has really experienced this, so although they will be curious and welcoming, they also remain cautious with newcomers, especially if they're not Irish.
The best thing to do is to get involved into local stuff, like working in a charity shop, or joining the PTA, or a sports club of some kind, and you will make friends through that as people will see you in action and realise you are not that different to them!

It takes a while but then you will warm to Ireland and it will warm to you, and you'll never want to leave!
If you need any further advice, feel free to send me a personal email through the site.

Take care!

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your reply! I didn't see it until today, I haven't not checked this website for a long time. I have been living in Cavan town for 6 months so far, and have travelled most of the country. Thank you for your wise advice!! May you prosper in every thing you do!!!

Jenny

Hi Geraldine,

Thank you for your message!! Just read it today. I have been too busy on trying to adapt my irish life here and haven't checked this website for a long time. Thank you for helping me to understand Irish people from their own point of views!! It made me feel much better!!!I have also realized that we tend to get picker in everything as we age. I have decided to warm to ireland trusting it will warm to me! :-)

Thank you again!! May you prosper in everything you do!!!

Jenny

Hi everyone. We have moved to Sligo two months ago.Yes, the same story... Anyway, for me it's a bit easier, since I spend most of my time at work. On the other side, my wife has contact with other people only when she's shopping.
If you are in Sligo, and you have time for a cup of tea, just give us a sign. I have also created a group on Facebook - Sligo meetups -facebook.com/groups/sligofriends/
Maybe we can create a group of expats from Sligo and meet up...
Wish you all the best

Hi
I moved  from Manchester England to Cavan two years ago I have three teenage daughters one attends college and has made a couple of friends that don't really interact with her outside of college. My other daughter has found it very difficult to make friends she has applied for many jobs without success she use to be such a bubbly outgoing person I'm afraid she's becoming a bit depressed she books a few trips over to England to see her old friends to have a laugh and go out with I feel so sorry for her I could cry. My husband visits our local pub for some male conversation but other than that he or I have no friends after living here two years it's very hard and we are quite out going people I do wish there was an expat meet up in Cavan even to just vent our frustrations.

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