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Ireland’s Business Culture

Many expats have been attracted by life in Ireland, especially during the era of the “Celtic Tiger”. While the nation has severely felt the effects of the recession, there are still some possibilities for expats. Read more about the economy and business culture on InterNations!
Quite a few Irish people are religious or conservative. Please try to avoid potentially controversial topics.

Ireland’s Social Security System

So you have overcome the difficulties that await prospective expats in Ireland at the moment? Congratulations! Having gone through the process of finding a job in Ireland does not only reward you with invaluable working experience in a great setting, it will also provide you with a fairly extensive social security system. The services and support measures the system provides are divided into three categories:

  • Social insurance payments: These payments vary depending on the time you have been contributing to the Irish Social Insurance Fund and the kind of payment you apply for. Types include jobseeker’s benefit, illness benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity pension, and state pension (retirement).
  • Means tested payments: These are primarily designed for people who do not meet the requirements for the abovementioned payments. Generally speaking, they provide a reduced version of the social–insurance-based payments. As expats in Ireland usually make a decent living in a secure job, means tested payments should not apply to them.
  • Universal payments: These are paid to every Irish resident regardless of occupation or income. They include child benefit, for example.

Ireland also has social security agreements with many expat “sender countries” such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. The bi-lateral social security agreements with said countries are especially important for securing expats’ access to state pensions, survivors’ pensions, and disability benefits.

EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals have their social insurance contributions and benefits secured by European law and need not worry. You can find more information about combining your social insurance contributions from your home country with those in Ireland on the Citizens Information website.

How to Avoid a Business or Social Faux Pas

Business in Ireland is done in very much the same manner as in other West European and North American societies. It is also notoriously difficult to break the good spirits of the Irish by mistake; they usually have a great sense of humor, but some general rules should still be adhered to.

Clichés and Manners

First and foremost, the Irish are aware of — and not particularly amused by — the clichés through which they are often portrayed in the media. US American movies in particular often include an Irish person of sunny disposition, a generic accent, and an indestructible liver. Although alcohol is indeed popular in Ireland, thinking of the Irish as a nation of drunkards is not only far from the truth, it is also quite offensive even when uttered jokingly.

Bragging is another mannerism that is highly unpopular with the Irish. Arrogance and exaggeration of your own grandeur might not necessarily get you into trouble, but they will probably discredit you to some extent.

The Art of Small Talk

In Ireland, it is a particularly good idea to keep religion out of small talk and business conversation. Many people in Ireland are religious (often staunchly Catholic) or have socially conservative values, so try to steer clear of potentially controversial topics such as abortion.

Once you get better acquainted or have become close friends with an Irish person, do not be alarmed if you are suddenly made fun of or attacked verbally. This is quite common among the Irish and a signal of a strong bond, strong enough to withstand the cruelest of jokes. You should reciprocate in a cheerful (and equally nonchalant) way. Do not take any of this personally or lose your good spirits.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Benoit Julien

"Want a night out beyond the obligatory pint of guinness? Enjoy the Dublin Expat Get-Togethers hosted by InterNations, just as I did. "

Katharina Berbner

"Got some great tips on business contacts in the IT sector from InterNations expats - thanks! "

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