Debs and grads

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Corsage given by date

A debs or grad is a formal ball for students in their final year of secondary school in Ireland,[1] analogous to the prom in North American schools or the school formal in Australia.[2] "Debs (ball)", from "débutantes' (ball)", is the usual name for girls' schools, coeducational schools, and some boys' schools; "grad" (from graduation) is often used in boys' schools. Debs occur at the end of the final year of secondary school. Each secondary school will host their own ball. Most schools have the debs in the autumn after the final year, but some chose to begin the final year with the debs. In some schools, before the debs, a smaller ball, known as a "pre-debs", "mini-debs" or "grads" is held; usually in January/February but sometimes as late as May. These are usually organised by someone other than the school itself. Traditionally a committee is created in the school to organise the event.

Students sometimes worry about being invited or finding a date but many attend with friends or in a group, not worrying about the dating aspect. It is not uncommon for students to not go with their boyfriend/girlfriend and instead go with a friend. Whether the female asks the male, or vice versa, is irrelevant. Men are usually attired in dinner jackets with bow ties; however, some do go in ordinary casual suits. Women usually wear formal gowns or dresses adorned with a corsage given to them by their date. It is customary for men to purchase an orchid or bouquet of flowers and/or a box of chocolates. A 2013 report found girls spent on average €825 on the night, including their dress.[3]

The debs is usually held at a hotel or other large function room. The debs usually, though not always, is a formal dinner, followed by music (usually pop,dance and rock music, but occasionally traditional Irish music) and dancing. Alcohol is served. Traditionally there is a photographer present, who will take individual shots of each couple, and several throughout the night, of the dancing etc.. It is common for the event to last all night, hence attendees do not to return home until the following morning, often going for breakfast together. Sometimes the hotel will provide this. Usually, people return from the Debs about 6-7a.m.


  1. ^ "Head to Head: Debs’ Balls". Trinity News. November 2, 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Brigham Young University, David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies (1998). Culturgrams: The Nations Around Us: The Americas and Europe. Ferguson. p. 147. 
  3. ^ "Teenage girls spending an average of €825 on their Debs". The Journal. August 14, 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2015.