This is very important, very. The only thing I’ve noticed that visitors to Ireland of partying age get wrong, consistently, is the ’rounds’ system in a Pub.
If you are in a pub and drinking with anyone, stranger, friend, classmate, workmate it doesn’t matter and you are about to order a drink, it is extremely rude not to offer to buy your companions a drink too. This is not some trick, you’ll notice immediately that people will offer to get you a drink when you are out with them. They are not being super nice and friendly to a visitor, they are doing it under the implicit agreement that you will buy the next drink for them.
If the group is too big it will generally break up into smaller rounds, generally appropriately sized to the amount of drinks the group is expecting to have that night.
If there are 10 people out it will likely break up into approximately 2 to 3 rounds, based on who arrived when, and who has finished their drink faster.
When you find yourself in a round, stick with it.
Don’t start buying drinks for someone in another round and you must refuse an offer of a drink if the person doing the offering is not in your round.
All you need to say is ‘No thanks, I’m grand, I’m in a round with Mary and Paul already’. If you accept the drink you will have joined their round and you’ll need to ‘clear your account’ in the first round by buying a round before you leave it.
It’s easier to stick with your original round throughout the night, though it is acceptable to change rounds if the venue changes during a pub crawl, but only after attempting to reform your original round in the new pub and failing for some reason.
It’s quite ok to come out behind or ahead on a round when the night finishes, you might find you’ve bought 8 pints but only drank 7, or bought 8 and drank 9. That’s ok, these things even out, if you’ve made a genuine effort to buy a round before the night ends then no one will hold it against you that you’ve had a free drink that night. It all evens out in the end.
You will be despised if you make no effort to get your own round in. Many foreigners think that the Irish are being super generous by offering them drinks every time they go to the bar themselves. As above, there is an expectation of reciprocation attached to that offer, if you do not reciprocate, you can expect things to turn sour, fast. The best case scenario is that people will talk about you behind your back, not invite you out on a night out and be disappointed if you turn up to meet them. Worst case is probably that you’re called out on it, or ditched during the night.
So to sum up in a few simple rules:
On entering a pub to meet friends try to join a round as soon as possible. It is as simple as saying: ‘I’m off to the bar, who needs a drink?’ If two or three people say yeah, then that’s your round.
If someone offers to buy you a drink and you accept you are now in a round with them and also anyone else who was in the round with them when you accepted the drink, this is crucial to remember. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Remember the ordering of the round, if person A buys first, followed by person B and then you, that is the order in which rounds must be bought for the rest of the night. Keep track of this, someone might offer to buy the next round on your turn because they have finished their drink but you still have some left. Don’t let them, insist on buying your round, they are only asking politely for you to get a move on, they are not genuinely keen on buying a round out of turn.
If you feel like you can’t go another full cycle it is acceptable to exit the round on an even turn (i.e. when you have bought as much as you have drank) by declining a further round with the words: ‘No it’s ok, thanks, I’m only going to have one more so I’ll get it myself’. Likely the person will insist on buying you the drink anyway, and it’s ok to accept if you have made a genuine effort to buy your own drink. Tell them ‘Ah thanks, I’ll get you back the next night’.
Don’t get into more than one round at the same time. Refuse the offer of a drink from anyone who is not in your round. Tell the person you are in a round and they’ll understand.
Do not get yourself a reputation for being a ‘scab’ or being ‘scabby’. Avoid this by being generous and always making a genuine effort to buy as much drink as you consume.
Try to make your drink of similar monetary value to those of your companions in the round. If they are drinking pints of guinness don’t ask for a double 18 year old single malt whiskey.
Keep the round order intact for as long as anyone is present and can still speak.
Be timely with your round, don’t leave a companion with an empty glass when it’s your turn to get the round. Try to match your drinking pace with them. If you are too slow then switch to half pints or be prepared to have full pints queued up in front of you. If you are drinking halves and they are drinking pints that’s your choice and is tough on you, you’ll end up paying for more drink than you consume. If you point out that they are saving money on buying you halves you will be deemed a scab.
Always, always, always make a genuine effort to ‘settle your account’ buy buying as much drink for others as is bought for you. Some days you’ll be ahead, some behind, but Irish people take the attitude that it all evens out over a lifetime anyway, so fuk it.
I hope this helps you settle in, there’s nothing worse than being out with some prick who thinks you’re a great guy for buying them drinks all night without putting their own hand in their pocket.