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What is a chipper in Irish?

A chipper is a quintessential part of Irish culture and cuisine. It refers to a takeaway shop or restaurant that specializes in fast food like fish and chips, burgers, sausages, and more. Chippers are extremely popular in Ireland, found in nearly every town and village across the country.

What does the term “chipper” mean?

The term “chipper” comes from the main item sold at these eateries – chips, which are thick-cut fries. So a chipper is essentially a “chip shop” that deep fries various foods for takeaway. The term originated in Irish slang but has become commonly used across Ireland when referring to these fast food shops.

When did chippies emerge in Ireland?

Chippies first emerged in Ireland in the late 19th century as more affordable fast food options for the working class. As industrialization led to growth in cities, there was demand for quick and convenient meals for workers with little time. The earliest chippies sold basic fare like fish and chips wrapped in paper to be eaten on the go.

By the early 1900s, chippies were spreading rapidly in Ireland. They became ingrained into daily life and culture. Locals regularly stopped by their neighborhood chipper for a filling meal on the way home from work or a night out.

Why are chippies so popular in Ireland?

There are several reasons chippies became an essential part of Irish cuisine and culture:

  • Convenience – Chippies provide hot, ready-to-eat meals for an affordable price. Workers can easily stop by on their commute home.
  • Comfort food – The fried fare served at chippies, like fish and chips, sausages, and burgers, appeals as hearty comfort food.
  • Community – Chippies often serve as social gathering spots and reflect local Irish culture and cuisine.
  • Tradition – Getting fish and chips from the chipper on a Friday night has become a staple Irish tradition over generations.

What foods can you expect at an Irish chipper?

The selection at Irish chippies typically includes:

  • Fish and chips – This is the quintessential chipper meal. Chunks of fried fish (usually cod or haddock) are served with thick-cut chips (fries).
  • Sausages – Irish chippers serve battered and fried sausages as a popular item.
  • Burgers – Chipper burgers are a greasy treat, often served alongside chips.
  • Chicken fillets – Chunks of chicken battered and deep fried.
  • Pies – minced meat pies and other savory baked pies.
  • Fried fish – Other fried fish like halibut, plaice, sole and ray.
  • Scallops – Seafood like battered scallops and shrimp.
  • Hot dogs/curries – Some chippies also offer hot dogs and basic curry sauce dishes.

The food is freshly fried when ordered. Customers can get single servings of items or meals bundled with chips. Chips can be topped with salt and malt vinegar for extra flavor.

What are popular chipper menus and meals?

Some go-to chipper orders in Ireland include:

Menu Item Details
Fish and chips Battered or fried fish served with a generous portion of chips
Sausage and chips 1-2 fried battered sausages served with chips
Burger and chips A burger patty fried on a grill or griddle then served in a bun with various toppings and chips
Chicken fillet roll Fried chicken fillet in a roll or baguette with lettuce, sauce, etc.
Curry chips Chips smothered in a basic curry sauce
Chip butty Chips between two slices of buttered white bread

The classic “chipper dinner” consists of fish and chips with an optional fried sausage, bread roll, and can of fizzy drink like Coca-Cola. Locals might get this 1-2 times a week as an easy dinner.

What are the hallmarks of an authentic Irish chipper?

Look for these signs you are in a genuine old-school Irish chipper:

  • Offering classic fish and chips wrapped in paper bags
  • Frying food fresh after ordering
  • A simple menu of traditional chipper meals
  • Accepting cash only
  • Having a casual, no-frills interior
  • Fried foods cooked in beef drippings for flavor
  • Local Irish clientele

Are chippies only found in Ireland?

While chippies are now considered an icon of Irish culture, similar shops have emerged outside of Ireland as well. In the UK, fish and chip shops arose by the late 1800s, also serving battered fish and chips in paper wrappings.

Versions of chippies can now be found in English-speaking countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. However, the Irish chipper tradition remains most ubiquitous and beloved within Ireland itself.

How have chippies evolved over the years?

While staying true to their roots, chippies have evolved over the generations:

  • Expanded menus – Many chippies now offer more variety like chicken dishes, kebabs, breakfast rolls, and international foods.
  • Takeout packaging – Reusable baskets or boxes have largely replaced wrapping food in paper.
  • Indoor seating – Some chippies now have tables where customers can dine-in.
  • Late night hours – Chippies originally catered to daytime factory workers but now stay open late in many towns.
  • Healthier options – Menu additions like salads and baked instead of fried food.

However, the majority of chippies still focus on the classic fried fare customers crave. The core essence as convenient, comforting, affordable fast food remains.

Why do chippies remain popular today?

Despite Ireland’s economic and social changes, chippies continue thriving for these main reasons:

  • Nostalgia – Longstanding chippies invoke nostalgic memories for generations of Irish people.
  • Tradition – Getting fish and chips on Friday is still a nationwide tradition.
  • Comfort food – The greasy, fried chipper cuisine still satisfies cravings.
  • Convenience – Chippies serve their role for a quick, convenient meal.
  • Community – Locals enjoy the social experience and chatting with owners.
  • Consistency – Chippers provide a comforting constant in an ever-changing world.

As tradition endures across generations, the local chipper remains a staple for both rural villages and major Irish cities.

Fun facts about Irish chippies

  • There are an estimated 3,000+ chippies across Ireland.
  • Dublin is believed to have the most chippies of any city in Ireland, with about 200.
  • Friday is the busiest day for chippies as people indulge in the fish and chips tradition.
  • Chippers use an estimated 60 million bags per year for wrapping takeaway orders.
  • “Chipper curry sauce” found at many chippies is a distinct Irish concoction not found elsewhere.
  • Chippies have become ingrained in Irish pop culture, music, art, and literature over the years.
  • Irish chippies have inspired similar businesses in places with Irish immigrants like New York City.

Where to find the best chippies in Ireland

Some chippies renowned for excellent fare include:

Chipper Name Location
Kish Fish Dublin
Leo Burdock Dublin
Strand Fish and Chips Galway
Chipper Sean’s Cork
Quinlan’s Fish and Chips Kerry
Belvelly’s Corner House Cork
Morton’s Fish and Chips Donegal
Hillside Fish and Chips Westmeath

Trying some top chippies lets you experience the best of this iconic Irish tradition and comfort food.

How to enjoy an authentic Irish chipper meal

To fully enjoy fish and chips from an Irish chipper, here are some tips:

  • Chat with the chipper owner and staff like a regular local.
  • Place your order at the counter when it’s freshly cooked.
  • Get plenty of vinegar and salt to sprinkle on top.
  • Use malt vinegar rather than red wine vinegar for authentic flavor.
  • Eat the meal wrapped in paper for the classic experience.
  • Go early on a Friday night before quantities run low.
  • Pair it with tea or a soft drink like Sprite or Club Orange.
  • Savor the comforting flavors and textures of the hot fried food.


The beloved Irish chipper emerged from the working-class demand for convenient, comforting pub food over a century ago. While staying true to its roots, the chipper has evolved into both a nostalgic tradition and essential part of Irish cuisine and culture. For locals and tourists alike, no visit to Ireland would be complete without getting that hot bag of fish and chips doused in salt and vinegar from the local chipper.