I took this picture on the road to Croke Patrick on the outskirts of Westport in County Mayo and it depicts a tragic famine ship. Our great famine struck in 1845-49, and Westport and surrounding areas were some of the worst affected areas. People were dying of starvation on the harbour front as ships, loaded with food were sailing out of the bay.
The question of tipping in Ireland arises regularly, and once again, I have been asked for guidance on this by Tom, a man who was getting all kinds of wrong advice from various people. This is my advice.
Please note these main points.
1) Tipping is the norm in Ireland, and is very much appreciated. Everybody likes to be thanked for a job well done, and a tip is a nice way to say thank you.,
2) The amount you tip, is at your own discretion.
3) Different tour companies may suggest different tip sizes, but my company, and some others, leave it to the clients discretion. Some may tell you that it relates to the overall price of the tour, but that is by no means a general rule. Others will tell you is is so much per day. That maybe applies to bus tours.
4) Just consider what your driver, or whoever else has served you, has done for you, and use your own head. Put yourself in their place.
My reply to Tom was
This is a common problem, and one about which there is a lot of confusion and misinformation. Let me just go straight to the root of what I feel tipping is all about. I personally tip someone for providing me with a service, for which I am grateful. It is the only reason I tip. I use my own discretion, and I do not need any guidance from anybody. In the USA, I know, you have more or less an accepted level for tipping, and I know that in the service industry there, it seems to be, that employers pay their staff little or no wages, and therefore, the tips are vital to the staff. I think that employers, who take advantage of their workers like that, should be ashamed of themselves, and should be prosecuted for their mean behaviour. In Ireland, most of our service industry employees are paid the minimum wage, which is higher than yours, but still hard to live on nowadays. I resent the rumour that tipping is not the norm in Ireland. That information was obviously started by some miserable individual to justify their own behaviour. Tipping is acceptable, no matter where you are. People, like myself, are always pleased to receive a tip, as it is not only useful, but a sign that you have done a good job, which has been appreciated by your client. How much should you tip? Well in my case, when I tip someone, I give them what I feel is reasonable. You could also tell your driver that he has done a good job, and that you appreciate what he has done for you. Tell him what you told me, that you are not a wealthy man, and hope that what you are giving him is ok. The drivers in Ireland are far from overpaid, another rumour circulated by some mean individual. Just do your best, and that will be fine. If you wish to reply, with a suggestion as to how much you feel you can give him, I will let you know what I think. Forget all that you have heard, and go with your heart. I think that you will then do what is right. I have given of my best to some people, who gave me nothing, and I was both disappointed and annoyed. There have been times though when I knew that my clients really did not have a lot and that was OK. I have been given most generous tips, but these would have been from really well to do people, but I have been given many tips of varying sizes. Give him a tip Tom, and just be nice. You will feel much better after doing the right thing.
Your friend in Ireland
Tom did write back to me, and did appreciate the guidance I gave him. He told me how much he felt would be adequate, and I told him that I felt he was being generous, and that it would be fine. I do not know how anybody can feel justified in feeling that, just because they are in a different country, no matter where that might be, tipping would not be acceptable. In Ireland, there is no fixed amount, no matter what you hear, but if somebody does a good job for you, I think you can figure it out yourself.
I hope this helps.