Soul of Ireland: The Art of Round Buying

In Ireland, there’s not a great deal we take too seriously, but outside that, we’ve got sport, we’ve got music and we’ve got pubs. If you’ve ever been to Ireland, you’ll know our streets are lined with them. You can’t throw a busker without hitting a pub.

There are the good, there are the bad and sometimes, the downright ugly, but no matter where you go, there’s always one thing you have to look out for – the perilous obstacle course of Irish pub etiquette. Ever since our work moved into the factories, the Irish working man has moved his social activities to the pub. It’s where the boss can’t write you up for slacking, where being on your best behaviour isn’t always so high on the agenda. It’s also where we share. Stories, chatter, whiskey. It’s all in good spirit, but you’ve got to know the rules to play the game.

The buying of the Round is an ancient art passed down through generations, we don’t know where it’s come from, it seems to have always been there. Don’t question it, just accept it, focus, and we’ll all get out of this unscathed.

Let’s say this is your first time in an Irish pub. You’re with some Irish acquaintances, friends of friends, say. You walk up to the bar, and one of them turns to you with four loaded words – “What are you having?”

You’re about to enter The Round, and we’re going to show how to survive it unscathed.

Step 1) When someone buys you a drink; friend, colleague, stranger, you’re signing an unwritten contract, tied into an unspoken bond, that you’ll be buying the next one.

Step 2) That understood, proceed, enjoy your whiskey, have a bit of banter with your new pub pals.

Step 3) Inevitably, when it gets to your turn, and one of your drinking partners taps you on the shoulder, eyes glancing at his empty glass, it’s safe to say they’re probably not overly keen to buy you a drink out of turn. This is merely a polite reminder, even if you’ve been so encapsulated by tales of revelry that you’ve barely started your own, it’s a friendly nudge. Buy your round. Even if you don’t top up your own, not to worry, we Irish are of the mindset that it all evens out at the end anyway. What goes around, comes around.

Step 4) If your turn to visit the bar does present itself, God forbid you’ll choose that moment to visit the gents. It could be a genuine mistake, sure, but that one moment, that one incident of poor bladder judgement could label you a Round Skipper. Forever. And nobody wants that.

Step 5) Usually, The Round runs until the last drinker’s departed, but say you’re a few drinks down and you’re ready to go on your merry way. Before you do, don’t forget the most important step in the entire process. If you leave without getting your own round in, assuming this entire charade was a real-life example of the famous Irish generosity, we’re afraid you’re dead wrong. The bond will be broken, and you’ll be left with some very disgruntled drinking partners. Stand up, say your goodbyes, and make sure you thank your friends for their company with a full table of whiskeys. Job done.

Congratulations, you’ve survived your first foray into the Irish Round. You done well, you made friends. Glasses up, we think you’ll fit in round these parts.