Ever heard of “The Irish Goodbye?” It’s a well-known practice in the Irish culture; one minute someone is there, and the next minute folks are asking “hey, has anyone seen Sean?”
Want to know the craic (gossip)?
Folklore has the tradition starting in the mid 1800’s during the potato famine, where entire families would be gone…sometimes in the middle of the night…in a mass migration to the United States. Did they not want to face emotional goodbyes? Did they perhaps owe people money, or believe that some family members (or neighbors) would want to join their escape party?
Over the years the practice has become more refined; some Irish pride themselves with their ability to duck out of a gathering virtually unnoticed.
I was “Irish Goodbyed” last night. During a marathon 4-hour phone conversation with a relative the phone suddenly went dead. I waited a bit (I don’t have International calling to that particular country, so I couldn’t call) and then sent an email saying perhaps his battery had died, and I was headed to bed. This morning the response was “no, I believe I fell asleep” and I said “NO! You Irish Goodbyed me!!” All in good fun, we had a lovely time reminiscing, but there was plenty of beer (his end) and wine (my end) so it time to call it a night.
My personal theory? If you’ve ever left an Irish gathering, you know that it can take an hour or more to exit…there is simply no easy way to yell out “see you all later!” and be gone. So, as you find yourself interacting with everyone as you say goodbye, there is still more to say (the Irish feel that gatherings are never long enough) and there is still more Guinness to sip. My advice? Marry a non-Irishman, so that you always have a designated driver and won’t have to Irish Goodbye a good party.