Failte Means Welcome

Me with Limerick Mayor Kathleen Leddin

Me with Limerick Mayor Kathleen Leddin


Every time I entered an establishment in Ireland, someone greeted me with the phrase, “You’re very welcome.” And every single time, it took me aback.

I consider myself a very polite person, so immediately felt that I’d been remiss in thanking my hosts for something. In America, the “you are welcome” phrase always follows the “thank you.” But in Ireland, they beat you to the punch with this graciously warm welcome, and the roles are suddenly reversed.

                  “You are very welcome…”

                                                                     “Thank you!”

My host for much of my travel in Ireland was Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority. They were extremely gracious and hospitable, so it came as no surprise to learn that the word Fáilte is Gaelic for welcome.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I couldn’t believe my good luck to be invited to participate in a press trip organized by Fáilte Ireland. They took us to Limerick, the 2014 National City of Culture. There we were greeted by the Mayor, museum curators, tavern managers, and castle guides. We sipped champagne and whiskey and were treated to behind-the-scenes glimpses of all that Limerick had to offer. We wrote limericks and listened to stories of Frank McCourt and his family. We were whisked to an array of museums in Limerick, and walked along the River Shannon, admiring the views of St. John’s Castle.

We had the chance to climb aboard a flying boat at Foyne’s and indulged in irish coffee. We received the royal treatment at Adare Manor and did a little shopping in Kildare. And at every place we stopped, we heard a variation of these words: Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes). The only thing I can say in return to Failte Ireland and all of our other hosts — a hundred thousand thanks.

Have you been the lucky beneficiary of Irish hospitality?

15 responses to “Failte Means Welcome

  1. This is so cool! What a great opportunity. I got lost near Donegal and Tourist Info was closed so I wandered into the lobby of a hotel for directions–I had confused the town and the county, and I still had a long way to go. Mr. Jimmy Feeley, the manager, offered me tea or coffee, got on the phone for at least half an hour to get turn by turn directions to our place that was still an hour’s drive. I remember him warning me to beware the road of the twenty-seven bends. It was full of very dicey directions, but thanks to Jimmy we got there just as the sun was setting. I shall never forget him, or his Irish hospitality.

    • Great story. The Irish hospitality is really something, isn’t it? Even on the city bus in Dublin, the driver made sure to call out to me when we neared my stop. I thought that was so nice.

  2. I love that an Irish welcome greeting literally uses the word welcome. Can’t get simpler or friendlier than that! Like everyone else less fortunate to be able to go there, I’m very jealous…. but hopefully not for too long! Great picture too, by the way. 😉

  3. Lovely picture Juliann. I’m delighted you saw the best of Limerick. It hasn’t got the greatest of reputations these days so it’s great you left with a good impression. And Americans in particular are always sure of a big welcome.

    • I’m not sure I saw enough of Limeriick. It was such a whirlwind tour that we didn’t have time to wander the streets and explore. But I certainly liked what I did see. That was true of everything I saw in Ireland.

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