Nicole Buckler compares the Irish with the Australians. Possibly quite badly. This is the second article in the series which compares the two cultures.

Following on from our previous article about the differences between the Irish and the Australians, here we discuss clans, drinks, dating, and snakes.



Irish people are a clan-based life form. This may surprise them but it is really true. Most people my age (40) have so many brothers and sisters, who then have partners, that they don’t need friends outside this clan. In fact they don’t HAVE TIME for anything outside their clan. This will change as the younger generation came through – people can’t afford to have 6 kids anymore, unless they want to live in a shed in the Wicklow Mountains. As a newcomer into Irish society, this can be good and bad. Bad in the way that it is hard to make new friends. This is because women especially have so much going on with their big families that they have no vacancies for newcomers. I am here clanless and it has taken me years to develop solid friendships, and only because I have goddamn insisted on it and made people like me and take a risk on being my friend.  YOU WILL LIKE ME GODAMMIT!

But here’s the good side to it: once you are accepted by a clan member, then you become friends with the whole clan. You know what’s going on with them, you know who is pregnant, and you know who is getting a divorce, you know which roof blew off in the storm, and you know who won tickets to a Wet Wet Wet concert. It’s like climbing a mountain. Once you finish the hard slog to the top, it’s a great sail down the other side, mostly lubricated by alcoholic beverages. It is different in Australia. We are not clan based, unless you are from a very strict and weird cult that believes in polygamy and pushes literal interpretations of holy books. We hang with the nuclear family we produced ourselves, and other friends and their nuclear families. But we didn’t grow up in families with 6 or 7 or even 11 kids. We had maybe one, perhaps two siblings. And they have both moved to Malaysia and Perth, respectively. So we make our own clans based on friendships made in school and university. Both ways work well, although you don’t get to choose your family…and if you could see my Uncle Frank at a wedding after 17 bourbons….

Everyone Knows Everyone

Greater Sydney has roughly the same population as the Republic of Ireland. So it is good to compare these two places. In Sydney, no one knows anyone and most friends are new. In Ireland everyone knows everyone. With no exceptions. Two Irish strangers will meet and find someone in their circle who knows someone in the other’s circle. This puts Irish people in the position of having to be careful about their behaviour in public, because EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE.

One Irish guy I know always manages to sleep with lots of different Irish women. And this some feat because Irish women aren’t slutty. (When I was in Egypt, I was asked where I was from. If I said Australia, America or from the UK, I would be considered fair game for sexual harassment. If I said “I’m Irish” the local men would just give up and walk away.)

This ladykiller friend of mine says the way he convinces lots of women to sleep with him is that he always manages to find some way he is connected to them. When they realise they “know” him, then they go home with him, because they aren’t sleeping with a stranger. Nice.

Because everyone knows everyone, this is the reason why you never see an Irish woman sunbathe topless on an Irish beach. It is because if you see someone you know, you are expected to say hello. The last thing an Irish woman wants is to be sunbathing half naked and have her old science teacher from 6th class come up and say hi and make polite conversation over her breasts.

Sexual Politics

Irish men make great husband and boyfriends. They are (mostly) loyal, they help with the housework and with the kids, and are generous with finances. But when it comes to pulling… Oh God it is like watching someone crashing their car into a mattress factory. It’s godawful. Men will sit on one side of the bar, getting drunk, while the women sit with their friends on the other side. And then you see it: the man crossing the floor to talk to a woman. Everyone knows he is going to get shot down: everyone knows the girl is going to savage his head off. And yet he does it anyway. He approaches and says to the girl, “Hi.” She says, “Can’t you see I’m talking with my friends? Perv.” And then he leaves. The girls complain that men only approach because they are drunk. They guys say that the girls are so mean to them that they have to have the beer-armour on to be able to approach in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle and it makes Tinder very appealing.

In every bar in the whole world, a woman can go and sit down, have a drink, then see Mr Handsome. She smiles at him, and this is the signal that she wants him to come and talk to her. This works everywhere in the whole world. EXCEPT IRELAND. Irish men do not approach. In fact if you smile at them in a bar they think you are mentally unwell and call you an ambulance.

In Australia it is different. Men approach women openly, and because the women have an inferiority complex towards men, they feel grateful that the man took the risk to approach them. The women are nice to the brave bloke for a while even if they aren’t interested in them. Eventually they find a way to weasel out of the situation after a good chat by saying my granny died/my cat escaped/I’m in labour. It saves face for everyone involved. Irish singles, sort it out.

Direct and Indirect

Australian people are very direct, Irish people are indirect. This is in every aspect of life. Irish people rarely say directly what they mean. It’s like being afflicted with a hinting disease. It is one part of the Irish culture that DRIVES ME MENTAL! Everything takes such a long time because of this!

One of my Irish friends went to Australia for a year, and she thought everyone in Australian was so very very rude. But then it slowly dawned on her that they aren’t being rude, they are just being direct. She had to learn the difference between the two. Fast.

An example can be seen while working with Irish people. They don’t like to be just “business associates.” You have to ask them about their lives first before you get stuck into the business matter.


This is how you write a business email in Ireland:

Dear Colleague X,

I hope you had a great weekend! How’s your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband/kids? Did you get that leaky roof/car/pothole/trampoline fixed? How’s about this weather, not liking the snow/hail/wind/sunburn. I’m good my kids/dog/cat/turtle is doing great.

Did you see the hurling on the weekend? What a match, it was close.

But of course, we must address that whole issue of work. It never goes away does it! I’m here for my sins, that’s for sure. So can you send me the copy that we discussed last week? I really need to get moving on it so I can get to the pub by 6:00pm lol!! I don’t want the beer to go cold.

Insert work-appropriate and very clean joke here.

Thanks and I look forward to your return email.

Pleb number 786
Multinational based in Athlone
contact details 1,2,3,4 and 5

Writing a business email in Australia:

Dear Boxhead,

Send me the copy we talked about. If you make me late for the pub at 6:00pm you will have to die.


While I hate the “padding out” of activities in small talk and social exchanges, I do feel like I am doing business with friends. Which makes it hard to up my invoice when I want to weasel more money out of people.

Landscape Safety

There is nothing that can kill you in Ireland. It took me a while to get my head around this. Just this year I let go and allowed my kids play in piles of leaves in the autumn. This is because before I came to Ireland I would naturally assume that any kids should stay the hell away from any place where there could be a lethal spider or a horrible snake or one of any other fresh hells. The only danger in piles of leaves in Ireland is perhaps an empty Tayto bag. Another thing I like about Ireland is that if you were ever on foot and got lost somewhere in the middle of nowhere, you wouldn’t die. At all. Nothing would kill you, you wouldn’t die of thirst. You wouldn’t even get a tan. And you’d have total mobile phone coverage the whole way. After an hour you’d see a Supermacs through a mirage and be able to call your ma to come get you. In Australia it is so so different. If you got lost in the bush, you could be dead within hours via 45 different methods. I have to say this really makes Ireland an appealing place. Especially for people who are lost.


The final part of this series is here.

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