What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it

Updated On: November 08, 2023

irish goodbye

An Irish Goodbye is a common saying for someone who doesn’t say Goodbye when leaving a party or gathering. Although it is not exclusive to Irish culture, many people across the world practise the subtle move and there are many variations of the term.

In this article, we will explore what is meant by an Irish Goodbye and explore other Irish metaphors and expressions that you can work into your everyday life and language. 

What is an Irish Goodbye?

An Irish Goodbye is a term coined for someone who leaves a gathering subtly and unobtrusively. They endeavour to escape without notice and avoid those light-hearted confrontations of, “Are you going already?” or “Aw just stay for one more”. 

What is an Irish Exit? 

An Irish Goodbye is also sometimes referred to as an Irish Exit. They mean exactly the same thing and are used interchangeably. 

Irish Goodbye vs French Exit

Other countries also have similar phrases or expressions for the same subtle move, including, Dutch Leave or a French Exit / French leave.  

Is an Irish Goodbye rude?

In Irish culture, an Irish Goodbye is not considered rude to the host or other guests. It is a socially accepted custom and demonstrates emotional intelligence and social awareness of knowing when it is ok to dip out of the party.

Why the Irish Goodbye is polite 

An Irish Goodbye can actually be seen as a form of politeness and respect to the host and other guests. When completing an Irish Exit, you are letting the party/gathering continue as is, as opposed to making a spectacle of your leaving. 

Why we love the Irish Goodbye

Perhaps one of the main reasons why the Irish Exit is so popular in Ireland is because when we do say Goodbye, it’s not a simple exchange of a few words. It’s usually a prolonged leaving with multiple exchanges of bye, bye, bye, see you later, etc. 

Especially in a large gathering, saying goodbye would take forever and your friends and family will be reluctant to let you leave without asking where you’re going, why you’re leaving, and why not just stay for a bit longer etc. 

An Irish Goodbye is having the self-assurance to leave, and knowing that you aren’t causing upset to anyone due to your early departure. 

How to get good at Irish Goodbyes?

If you’re planning on executing an Irish Goodbye in the near future, be sure to give it some forethought, because the last thing you want is someone catching you in the middle of the act. 

If you’re leaving with someone else, subtly hint that you’re ready to leave, don’t announce it surrounded by a crowd of people, because it will only bring attention. If you need to get something from another room, try to do so unnoticed, and it is perhaps a good idea to leave putting your coat on until you’re out of sight. 

An Irish Goodbye needs a subtle and almost undercover approach. If you happen to pass someone as you’re leaving and they ask where you’re off to, it’s perfectly ok to say, “I’m just heading on, see you later”. 

No one will hold it against you if you do an Irish exit, but they may try to hold onto you before you quietly escape. 

Irish Goodbye meme

Perhaps you feel a tad guilty for leaving a party early or have received a text the next morning asking where you went. If so, send one of these hilarious Irish Goodbye memes on to friends and family to excuse yourself.

What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it
What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it 1
What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it
What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it 2
What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it
What is an Irish Goodbye / Irish Exit? Exploring the subtle brilliance of it 3

How do the Irish say goodbye? 

Gaelic is spoken by the Irish both North and South of the border. Although Irish is predominantly spoken in the south, in County’s such as Donegal, Kerry and Mayo, it is still common to hear it in casual conversation North of the land. 

Gaelic for goodbye

Although we love the subtlety of the Irish Exit, we also have many rich terms for expressing leave, especially in Ireland’s native tongue of Gaelic. 

Check out these variations of how to say goodbye in Gaelic. 

Slán: A commonly used quick phrase for saying Goodbye

Slán abhaile: Literally translated as, “safe home”, used to wish someone a safe journey.

Slán agat: Commonly used for someone who is staying, when you are the one leaving, it translates as “have safety”. 

Slán leat: commonly used if you are saying goodbye to the person who is leaving, it means “safety with you”. 

Slán go fóill: commonly used when you expect to see someone again shortly, it translate as, “safety for a while”. 

If you would like to hear more about how to pronounce Goodbye in Irish, head over to Bitesize Irish, for audio clips and Gaelic definitions. 

Irishman Slang

If you’re interested in hearing more about how the Irish speak, our unique colloquialisms and comical sayings, check out these definitions of common Irishman slang.

Buck Ejit: Someone who is acting silly.

Bang On: Used to describe something that is correct

Banjaxxed: Used to describe something that is broken

Black stuff: Used to describe Guinness

Bucketing down: Used to describe the rain

Baltic: Used to describe the weather feeling cold

Blocked: used to describe a hangover

Class: something that is of amazing quality. 

Craic: Used to describe having fun.

Chancer: Used to describe someone who has a cheeky or risky personality.

Culchie: Someone who is from the Irish countryside 

Deadly: something that is brilliant or class

Deadly serious: not to be confused with the above, someone uses this term to make a serious statement 

Do you think I came up the lagan in a bubble? A phrase used when asking someone, do you think I’m stupid? 

Donkeys: Used to describe a long period of time. 

Effin and Blindin: used to describe someone who is cursing or using profanity. 

Feck off: telling someone to go awat or clear off.

Free gaff: used to describe a free house.

Gawk: staring at someone or something. 

Header: used to describe someone who is acting silly.

Horsing around: Used to describe someone who is messing around having fun or not completing a task properly.

Holy Joe: someone who is serious about their religion. 

Kip: going for  aquick nap.

Knackered: feeling exhausted or very tired.

Lass: used to describe a girl. 

Lashing: Another term used to describe the wind. 

Leg it: to run away.

Manky: something that is dirty or disgusting. 

Not the full shilling: Someone who is not fully aware

Shattered: feeling extremely tired or fatigued. 

Steaming: used to describe someone who is drunk. 

Thick: someone who is acting stupid. 

What’s the craic: Used to greet someone, asking them what’s up?

What’s the story: used to greet someone. 

Irish Goodbye Poem

There is a fantastic poem written by Kimberly Casey, titled “Irish Goodbye”. 

The poem explores Kimberly’s turbulent relationship with her Uncle who is now ill and in need of a liver transplant. At the end, she performs an Irish exit of her own, but perhaps the title is a metaphor for the strained relationship she experiences with a family member, who she is no longer on speaking terms with. 

Click the link to read and/or listen to Irish Goodbye. 

An Irish Goodbye Film

The 2022, BAFTA and Oscar award- winning black comedy, is another piece of art that embodies the metaphor of An Irish Goodbye. This short film follows the journey of two estranged brothers who reconcile after the death of their mother. It’s a bittersweet story that showcases the uniqueness of dark humour within the Irish. 

Click the link to read more about the film, An Irish Goodbye or check out this article on An Irish Goodbye filming locations.

Irish Goodbye meaning 

Now that you know the meaning of an Irish goodbye and how you can execute it with ease, you may want to work it into your next social event. You may even come across someone doing it themselves, but now you know to let them have at it. 
If interested, check out this blog to hear more about Irish traditions and local customs!

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