To get any worthwhile conversation off to good start, you will need a good opener, which can be a suitable greeting, preparation before you start, some familiarity with Dubliners and their pre-occupation with the weather or their health.   It is only then you can proceed with an opening question.


Everywhere in Dublin you can find the phrase "Céad Míle Fáilte" stuck to a wall, under your feet, on the menu, etc.. This is true. And there's more. Everywhere there are people twitching their heads, not to laugh at some private joke, but instead to attract your attention. Now that you know how to recognise a friendly soul, here's some help with the greetings that may come with a head salute

  • Head Salute

This is a universal sigh of friendship in Dublin, and is usually performed in conjunction with an opening greeting. It can also unblock the ear passages, and strengthen the neck muscles

You reply with your own head salute

It is best practised alone in front of a mirror, until you are sure of the movement.

  • Popular Greetings often with head salute

How's the craic [pron. 'crack]
How's the form
How's it goin'
Anything strange

If well, then say

Spot on
Things could be worse
Divil a bit (i.e. nothing at all)

  • Greeting someone eating

Is going down well?
Can I interest you in ---?
You must be hungry there!

You say

Will you have a bite yerself?
I'm starved with the hunger
I'd eat the back door buttered!

  • Greetings and work

Hard at it?
God bless the work

You say

Doin' a bit
Much good may it do me

  • Other greetings

Well, is it yerself?



Now that you've broken the ice you will need something to talk about first before you plunge into native conversation. Anything worth mentioning, is worth sharing with a fellow person in Dublin.

Before you start

The way a conversation opens will often determine how it is likely to proceed and develop. To begin with it is essential to master the 1st person post-indicative. This allows reference to a person or thing without using any name, formal introduction, or familiarisation.

  • Breaking the ice

Did ye see yer man with that big green yoke?

Did ye see yer man on the box the other day


Did you see the person in question with the green thing I don't know the name for?
Did you see the person in question on the television on that day I will not repeat?

Another important phrase is 'the other', often pronounce 'de udder'. This is used to refer to any matter at all, and is especially useful for anything of a sensitive nature, eg "Did ye see yer man about the other?"

Dubliners and Weather

It is often said that the Dubliners are a Mediterranean people who only come into their own when the sun shines on consecutive days (which it last did around the time of St Patrick). For this reason, Dubliners dress for conditions in Palermo rather than Dublin; and it is not unusual in March to see young people sipping cool beer outside city pubs and cafes, enjoying the air and the soft caress of hailstones on their skin. The Dublin attitude to weather is the ultimate triumph of optimism over experience: Every time it rains, we look up at the sky and are shocked and betrayed. Then we go out and buy a new umbrella.   Many visitors to Dublin come from places where 'rain' is mis-understood, foolishly believing it is a short-term phenomenon.   In Dublin this would be a passing shower.   Temporary interruptions in rain is known as a 'dry-spell'.   It is for this reason that when visitors to Ireland in mid-March  ask: "What clothes should I bring?" The answer is: All of them!  The tourist authorities constantly promote the climate as being bathed by the Gulf Stream.  Don't be fooled.   The weather in Dublin is everywhere, unpredictable, and most of all, is newsworthy. You are likely to experience rain, cold and wind, or more likely all three simultaneously.  On top of that the weather requires no introductions. You should be able to talk about it to anyone, anywhere for as long as you like.

  • Good Weather [rare]

'Tis a grand day
'Tis marvellous
I s'pose this'll be the summer

You reply

Thank God
'Tis marvellous altogether
Aye, Twill never last

  • Bad Weather

Dirty aul day
'Tis pissing again
'Tis lashing out there
'Tis wicked cold
'Tis savage today
You'll be blown out of it
'Tis despra

You reply

Yep, wet 'n dreary
Yep, but soft rain thank God
Yep, flaking down out of the high heavens
I'm perished
'Tis really wicked
It cuts right through you
An almighty sickner

And a very old but definitive guide to the Irish weather for people from the States:

40 degrees: Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Dubliners sunbathe.

35 degrees: Italian cars won't start.
Dubliners  drive with the windows down.

20 degrees: People in Florida wear coats, gloves and woolly hats.
Dubliners  throw on a T-shirt.

15 degrees: Californians begin to evacuate the state.
Dubliners  go swimming.

Zero degrees: New York landlords finally turn up the heating.
Dubliners  have the last BBQ of the summer before it "gets a tad cold".

10 degrees below zero: Californians fly away to Mexico.
Dubliners  throw on a light jacket.

50 degrees below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Dublin Boy Scouts postpone "Winter Survival" classes until it gets cold enough

173 degrees below zero: Ethyl alcohol freezes.
Dubliners  get frustrated cos they can't thaw their Guinness.

297 degrees below zero: Microbial life start to disappear.
Dublin cows complain of farmers with cold hands

460 degrees below zero: ALL atomic motion stops.
Dubliners  start saying "Is it just me or is there a wee nip in the air?"

500 degrees below zero: Hell freezes over.
Dubliners  support England instead of Brazil in the World Cup.


There is nothing people like talking more about in Dublin than health. Dubliners like the attention it gets, and the indulgence. If anything, you runny nose will generate concern and a lively conversation. If you are ever stuck for a new topic of conversation, then describe your state of health. Don't be shy, nobody else will be.

  • Good Health [rare]

You're lookin' well
How's the form

You reply

Thank God
Grand today

  • Bad Health [usual]

I'm all aches 'n pains
I'm smothered with a cold
Me head's splitting
I'm dying with the flu
I'm feeling shook
I'm failing

You reply

Is that so?
That's an awful dose you have
Are you taking something for it?
That flu is no joke
You should be home in bed
Aren't we all

Opening Questions

An opening question will teach you a lot about your companion. Dubliners will enquire politely but insistently into your background, so in return for this curiosity, why not get involved yourself

  • Where do you come from

You're not local I take it ?
You're new here
Where ye from at all ?

You could reply

Indeed, I'm not
I am indeed
I'm over from XXXXX of all places

  • Why are you in Dublin

Here for a bit of a holiday are ye
What do you do for a crust
You're not Sean Murphy's son are' ye

You reply

Yep, I'm over for the craic
Something from the weather section above

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Most recent version 13-Dec-2006
To be updated from time to time
© N. O'Byrne

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