Ethnic groups: 99.15 percent White (91.0 percent Northern Ireland born, 8.15 percent other white), 0.41 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Irish Traveller, 0.34 percent other
Language: English, Irish and Ulster Scots
Capital: Dublin (Republic of Ireland) / Belfast (Northern Ireland)
Republic of Ireland:
New Year’s Day (January 1), National Day (March 17), Easter Monday, Labour Day (first Monday of May), June Holiday (first Monday in June), August holiday (first Monday in August), October Holiday (last Monday in October), Christmas Day (December 25), St. Stephen’s Day (December 26)
New Year’s Day (January 1), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day (first Monday in May), Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May), Orangeman’s Holiday (July 12), Late Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August), Christmas Day (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26)
Business hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm (although often depends on individual business)
Communication in Ireland is unique, with a trend towards eloquence and the use of stories to convey messages. However, loudness and crudeness is not well-tolerated, particularly in strangers, so be sure to remain modest throughout your business in Ireland. Even when asked about something self-empowering, such as your academic qualifications, it is best to remain modest and give a short and factual answer.
You will also have to read between the lines when doing business in Ireland, something you wouldn’t have to do in, for example, Iceland, where direct and honest communication is valued above politeness. In Ireland the opposite is often true, so watch peoples’ body language and facial expressions. Just because they say they agree with you it doesn’t mean they do. Likewise, confrontation is avoided where possible.
Business structures in Ireland can vary widely and come down to the company itself. Naturally you’ll find many companies, particularly larger ones, that follow traditional Western patterns, but make sure you find out in advance so you know what to expect.
Ireland’s strong cultural heritage means you are likely to encounter family-owned businesses where it will be harder to work out where decision-making authority lies. The person most appropriate for you to talk to will generally be the person with decision-making authority with regard to your services or products.
Meetings will vary depending on the businesses taking part, with differences with regard to participation/overall goals/purpose. Try to get a feel for the meeting as soon as you go in. Most meetings will have a relaxed atmosphere, which fits in with the Irish tendency towards politeness and openness.
Expect small periods of small talk before the meeting starts – this can be a great way to break the ice and make allies. Agendas may be prepared or they may not; it’s best to check beforehand so that everyone is on the same page.
Meetings are also as likely to occur in a local pub as in the office – this is a way of democratising the proceedings and is another instance of Ireland’s reputation for politeness. Because of this, don’t be afraid to participate – everyone is allowed to talk (and expected to), so offer your opinions and get involved.
Teamwork in Ireland follows the same basic rules as all communication in the country – it is necessary to have ‘break in periods’ of banter and small talk to allow everyone to become comfortable with one another. Those not familiar with the emphasis on politeness in Ireland should be briefed beforehand to ensure conformity across the team. Teams shouldn’t be switched around too often as this can reduce effectiveness due to the new period of adjustment necessary before all members are comfortable with one another.
The basics of business clothing in Ireland are similar to most other Western countries, although individual countries may have different policies. Traditional suits are the most common (and most appropriate) form of attire for men; if you are new to the country then sticking to smart, standard clothing is best.
For women, suits can also be worn, although a smart knee-length skirt will also be fine. Makeup should be neutral and toned down, with light neutral colours for lipsticks and nail polishes. Likewise, jewellery should be simple and smart, with small, unconstructive earrings. Flamboyant jewellery can be frowned upon.