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A Few Things You Should Know About Ireland!

  1. 60
    Ross Dix-Peekposted 7 years ago

    A Few Things You Should Know About Ireland!

    Ross Dix-Peek

    Well, the honeymoon is over!
    Here are a few facts that they don�t tell you when immigrating to Ireland!
    They are merely my views and opinions, and should be treated thus.

        Ireland is the most expensive country in Europe.
    ·    Make absolutely sure that you have enough money to support yourself for the first few monthsâ�¦because you more than likely cannot expect help from the Irish banksâ��â�¦they are not generally forthcoming and helpful.
    ·    Make absolutely certain that your credit cards are in good order and that you will be able to use them overseas - check the PIN numbersâ�¦very important (for instance, South African credit cards are not valid after three months abroad).
    ·    Try to avoid living in Dublin, again very expensive. For instance, you can hire a house in the Cork district with no-less than five-bedrooms (and a garden) for Euro 900, whereas a two-bedroom apartment in Swords, Dublin, will cost you a whopping Euro 1100-1300 per month.
    ·    I must warn you immediately, Irish estate agents are â��dogsâ��â�¦they are not helpful, intent only on making as much money from you as possible and, the land lordsâ�� are also (in my experience) devoid of ethicsâ�¦before agreeing to any contract, make sure you have acquired the lowest rent possible: apply pressure (the recession has hit the Irish land-owning fraternity quite hard and they should therefore be receptive to most offers)â�¦a little aside, land-owners in Ireland think that they in fact own the land, but they own absolutely nothingâ�¦they are themselves tenants (in â��fee simpleâ��), because the land belongs to the Irish State, a little something they inherited from the British Crown upon independence in the 1920sâ�¦and the British Monarchy is in effect the biggest landowner in the worldâ�¦and they say feudalism is a thing of the past!
    ·    Be aware of the fact that it gets dark very early during winter (by half-past four in the afternoon), and that during summer the reverse is evident (remaining light until well into the â��nightâ��). If the deprivation of sunlight alarms you, you may want to invest in a â��SADâ�� lamp which imparts Ultra Violet  (UV) rays and combats depression resulting from the â��lossâ�� of sunlightâ�¦you can purchase a â��SADâ�� lamp at â��Argosâ�� for roughly â�¬60, but it might not help at all (it helped my wife, but did not help me)â�¦so think about it carefully.
    ·    Do not bank with the â��Bank of Irelandâ��, not â��user-friendlyâ�� (they have treated us very shoddily) and they are in financial trouble anyway, rather bank with â��AIBâ��.
    ·    Do not shop at â��Dunneâ��sâ��, again very expensive, rather do your shopping at â��Penneyâ��sâ��, â��Lidlâ��sâ��, â��Aldiâ��sâ��or the â��2â�¬â�� storeâ�¦much, much cheaper.
    ·    When buying clothes, your cheapest option is â��Penneyâ��sâ��â�¦and Irish men seemed to have a  fascination for pointed shoes, a throwback to the 70â��sâ�¦hideous, not my style.
    ·     If you are a woman, and short skirts, boots and tracksuits are not your idea of  â��avant gardeâ�� fashion, then you had better bring a hefty collection of your own clothes with you, as I do not think the average Irish clothes retailer will be to your liking.
    ·    And, always remember, the Irish are born-salesmen (and sales-women), and so always be wary when shopping, or even when just in the vicinity of a salespersonâ�¦they are always trying to sell you something, donâ��t think they are there to help, there sole-reason for living is to force you to buy somethingâ�¦and the more expensive, the merrier, for them that is!(that is not to say that they are not helpful, because for the most part they are, but it really pays to be on the â��qui viveâ��)
    ·    Whenever buying something, always make doubly sure that the price agreed upon is in fact the specified price, never just take it for granted (truly, bills have a way of jumping out at you in Ireland, there always seems to be an additional cost)â�¦there are a hell-of-a-lot of â��conmenâ�� in Irelandâ�¦and also make sure that the items that you have purchased are indeed under guarantee.
    ·    Oh, when you suddenly chance upon a local who seems smeared with something akin to â��baby shitâ��, do not despair, it is only an example of artificial sun-tanning (using sun-beds and the like) and they look thus because their skins are not at all used to sunâ�¦and the result isâ�¦the â��babyshitâ�� look!
    ·    Really, when confused or just wishing merely to query something, ask! The Irish are generally approachable, and Dubliners are a lot friendlier than Londoners.
    ·    If you encounter any problems with your employer, get hold of the Department of  Trade and Enterprise immediately, and inform them of your plight. They are extremely receptive and very prompt. Donâ��t take any unnecessary crap from your employer!
    ·    If your vocation is in the medical field (especially Occupational Therapy), then try to gain employment with the HSE (the Health Service Executive), the Irish equivalent to the British National Health System, your best optionâ�¦far more secure â�� pension, paid-leave, sick-leave, regulated hours, no overtime etc.
    ·    If you entered  the country on a â��Green Cardâ��, then make absolutely certain that your employee pays the Euro 1000 fee, and resist any attempt on their part to make you pay for itâ�¦it is against the law. If they insistâ�¦get hold of the Department of Trade and Enterprise!
    ·    Again, if you are entering Ireland on a â��Green Cardâ��, be apprised of the fact that you are expected to work for your future employee for at least 12 months before seeking another job. But, if you wish to leave before then, do not become despondent, contact the Department of Trade and Enterprise and make absolutely certain of your rightsâ�¦as mentioned afore, they are very professional and reliable.
    ·    Remember, if your spouse enters the country with you he/she will, upon finding employment, also be subject to the same restrictions, notably the inability to change jobs within the first 12 months of having been employed in Ireland.
    ·    Remember, you are an â��Immigrantâ��,  an â��Alienâ�� in other wordsâ�¦the Irish do not really want you in the country, but they need your expertise, and thus they tolerate youâ�¦generally, they are fine, but bear that caveat in mind. 
    ·    The â��Gardaiâ�� (pronounced â��Goddieâ��),  or the police force,  are generally approachable and helpful, and do the best they can, under difficult circumstances. 
    ·    Ireland is an enigma. Although a highly regulated first-world country, its infrastructure can at times seem antediluvian, antiquated â�¦akin to what you would expect to find in the â��back of  beyondâ��, but it must always be borne in mind that Ireland was, until quite recently, a poor agrarian-based economyâ�¦and therefore the chasm between â��modernityâ�� and â��antiquityâ��.
    ·    If you need to use the internet, there are a plethora of internet cafes all over Ireland, but bear in mind that the local library will also more than likely have an internet facility, and it costs one nothingâ�¦but it involves booking a session. It will save you some money, as internet cafes charge approximately â�¬5 per half hourâ�¦but again, shop around.
    ·    When buying a car, be very, very aware of conmen and sharks! Car salesmen in Ireland, as in the rest of the world, are a bunch of cunning, mendacious  reprobates. Also remember that you will need to pay for the NCT test (roadworthy test in other words), insurance (a good insurance company is â��AXAâ��), and tax.
    ·    Also, if you buy a car make sure you join AAâ�¦imperative! The road emergency services are not (in my personal experience) at all reliable, and if your car does indeed break-down (as ours has in the past),  do not expect anybody to stopâ�¦but that is to be expected in any country the world-over.
    ·    Donâ��t even think of renting a car in Dublin for a lengthy period of timeâ�¦frightfully expensive.
    ·    If you plan on Driving in Ireland, prepare yourself for the plethora of â��Roundaboutsâ�� (the Irish seem absolutely fascinated with them) and the annoyingly narrow country roads, but it must also be said that Irish drivers are generally very accommodating.
    ·    Now, one thing about Ireland, their public transport system works, and is to be commended. The buses and trains are generally on time and the bus drivers are, in the main, very cordial and extremely helpful.
    ·    And, if you wish to fly from Ireland to another European destination, then â��Ryanairâ�� is your best bet, and cheap fares can often be found on their webpage, an example being to fly from Dublin to London for a measly â�¬10, but always enquire about airport tax and other â��hiddenâ�� costs! 
    ·    Food is generally cheap, but one has to be discerning as far as â��specialsâ�� go, and it is best if one shops aroundâ�¦again, â��Lidlâ��sâ�� and â��Aldiâ��sâ�� are your best bet (German companiesâ�¦Irish retailers seem to be expensive).
    ·    I have been told, but cannot verify, that Polish foodstuffs at times resemble certain South African food products and variants (there are many Polish folk resident in Ireland and tons of Polish shops), so if you are a South African resident in Ireland,  you might wish to visit your  local Polish shopâ�¦as the South African shops (there is one in Dublin that I know of) are very expensive (of course they would be, South Africanâ��s love ripping off their own countrymen: that is South Africaâ��s national sportâ�¦and you thought it was rugby)
    ·    Bread is on average (in Dublin) about Euro 1.88-2.00 a loaf; milk â�� â�¬1.65; A shirt (at Penneys) about â�¬5-10; a pair of jeans â�¬10; shoes, anywhere from â�¬20-60 per pair (and thatâ��s an average pair of shoes); coffee, approximately â�¬3-4; chocolates, â�¬1.00 (chocolates and sweets are generally cheap); a Mobile Phone, anywhere from â�¬59; a hair-dryer, approximately â�¬19 etc, etc.
    ·    A good place to shop is â��Argosâ��, which comprises a collection of cash-points, whereby a person, having consulted the â��Argosâ�� catalogue and chosen the desired item,  apprises a cashier of  the catalogue number and proceeds to collect the itemâ�¦a good place to shop, and the prices are affordable, but it never does one harm to shop aroundâ�¦and in Ireland it often pays to do so.
    ·    Coffee shops are a dime-a-dozen, but if you wish to save money, and yet indulge in a cup of coffee, then try to avoid â��Starbucksâ��, which is an absolute rip-offâ�¦very expensive!
    ·    I cannot verify whether this is true throughout Ireland, but in Dublin you will more than likely receive what at first glance seems to be two electricity bills. Now, one pertains to the â��ESBâ�� which is the designated Electricity Company, while the other pertains to â��Bord Gaisâ��, which supplies customers with gas for central heating. The deposits are normally between â�¬200-300 and the outstanding monthly fee can be paid by debit. It often happens that bills arrive every two-months instead of monthly, so always budget appropriately, just to be safe.
    ·    As far as television goes, â��Skyâ�� is your best choiceâ�¦the Irish equivalent â��Chorus, NTLâ�� are not to be trustedâ�¦they overcharge!
    ·    A television licence is compulsory, and unlike South Africa, the Irish authorities do uphold this law. It costs approximately Euro 160 (per year) and can be bought at any local post office.
    ·    If you are a South African, do not ask a cashier at any shop in Ireland for a â��packetâ��, completely baffles themâ�¦rather ask for a â��bagâ��
    ·    Although apparently an English-speaking nation, they seemed to find it very difficult to understand accents different from their own, thus you will be well served to enunciate your words and get used to â��Ha?â�� â��What?â��â�¦bloody annoying.
    ·    In addition, they do not pronounce their  â��Hâ��sâ��, so get used to â��Tirty-Treeâ�� instead of â��Thirty Threeâ�� or â��Turdâ�� instead of â��Thirdâ��.
    ·    You will also notice from the very outset that both English and Gaelic (or Irish) are represented on most of the signage in Ireland. It reminds me of South Africa during the apartheid years, Afrikaans having been forced on the South African English-speaking community (just as it was forced upon the Blacks), and I can only think that the so-called pride in their â��nationalâ�� language is nothing more than a vile attempt on the part of a minority to enforce their desires upon the vast majority of Irish men, women and children who do not speak the language, and therefore I find the whole concept oppressive.
    ·    If you donâ��t smoke, then Irelandâ��s not for youâ�¦I think smoking is their national sport. They are completely addicted to nicotineâ�¦rather sad to see!
    ·    Expect â��expectorationâ�� or spit all over the pavementsâ�¦they seem to love expelling phlegm. But, in all fairness, I cannot say as to whether this disgusting habit is that of the local Irish folk or the Foreigners residing in Ireland: all the same, it is absolutely despicable to behold.
    ·    In regard to the Irish Educational system, I can only say, having observed its â��alma matersâ�� (the Irish youth), that it seems fundamentally flawed, and that the intellectual prowess of the average Irish youth seems, in my humble opinion, to be non-existent (but, I stress, that that is my opinion, and my opinion alone, and that most countryâ��s educational systemsâ�� would be found wanting in my estimate thereof). 
    ·    Expect to see â��buggiesâ�� or prams all over the place. The Irish are completely enamoured of children, and believe their children to be a blessingâ�¦so big families are still prevalent (and I have to say that Irish kids are, in my opinion, nothing but a bunch of spoilt brats!). The youth seem to abuse the local welfare system (equivalent to the British â��Doleâ��) and so you will grow accustomed to the legions of young mothersâ�� (with the ever-present cigarette to hand) trotting about with their â��pay packetâ�� (the baby) neatly ensconced in the pram.
    ·    The kids all dress like gangsters (â��Hoodiesâ��), and Irelandâ��s national costume is, in my opinion, that awful fashion statement, the  tracksuitâ�¦with the concomitant hood!
    ·    Dipsomania or drunkenness seems to be rampant among the Irish youth, and has even elicited efforts on the part of the Irish government to expunge this flagitious malaise. I recall reading an interesting article postulating that the although the Irish have always been known to be  heavy drinkersâ��, it is, in essence, the countryâ��s newly acquired affluence that is the root course of the problem with alcohol- there is far more money about, and so the children are given oodles of money (in lieu of love), which they in turn invest in â��Mr Guinnessâ�� (and then proceed to puke all over Ireland)â�¦and the winner is, yes, â��Mr Guinnessâ��â�¦and people talk about â��Weapons of Mass Destructionâ��!
    ·    Of course, Catholicism still predominates but it seems apparent that the Irish youth, in particular , have chosen to rebel against organised religion, and specifically the Roman Catholic Churchâ�¦that seems to be Ireland, from one extreme to another!
    ·    If you love books, and you live in Dublin, then â��Chaptersâ�� (in Parnell Street) is your best bet. â��Easonâ��sâ�� and â��Hughes and Hughesâ�� are very expensive.
    ·    Do not immigrate to Ireland during the Christmas seasonâ�¦hectic and expensive.
    ·    If you are a Heliolater (a sun worshipper), then Ireland really is not the place for you- need I say more?
    ·    Learn to dress in layers, a T-shirt, a shirt, a jersey, a windbreaker etc, etc, and take them off as the weather dictates.
    ·    If you love your beer, as I do, try to stay away from pubsâ�¦anywhere from Euro 4.50 â�� 5.00 a pint.
    ·    Buy your liqueur at a shopping mall, and avoid the â��Off-Licenceâ�� liqueur stores at all costsâ�¦prohibitively  costly

    Ireland is in general a pleasant country to live in, but in my opinion, both the Irish people and government need to value and protect what is in essence one of their greatest national assetâ��s , the immigrant community. The immigrant community is the bedrock whereupon the Irish economy has been built, and lest the Irish forget, it was not that long-ago that millions-upon-millions of  Irish men, women and children themselves sought sanctuary in far-away lands the world over,  and were themselves mere immigrantsâ�¦

    1. Stacie L profile image88
      Stacie Lposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Why didn't you make this your first hub article? big_smile

  2. pjdscott profile image74
    pjdscottposted 7 years ago

    Dear Ross,

    Stacie L is correct - you should have made this into a hub. Incidentally, there was a problem viewing through Firefox - I suspect you have used some sort of extended characters (curly quotes and the like) and respectfully suggest you convert to plain text before uploading to HubPages again.

    As a born and bred Irishman I would generally agree with your opinions and experiences, and you make some very astute observations.

    However, I have issue with the following points:

    You make a somewhat sweeping statement about Irish land being the property of the irish state. This is not quite so simple - many Irish people have freehold possession of their land, rather than the leasehold you suggest. The Irish state does not own freehold land, but can acquire by compulsory purchase if necessary (usually for reasons of public works such as new roads, etc). It is true to say that many leasehold companies are still UK based.

    Another generalization you state is that the "Irish do not really want you in the country". The majority of Irish people have no problem with immigrants - look at the way you have integrated into our education, social and health systems. However, a minority resent the concept of immigrants taking jobs, even if the vast majority of immigrants (unlike yourself, I suspect) work at, or near the minimum wage doing work that Irish people no longer want. This is rapidly changing with rising unemployment. However, while there are isolated incidents involving racial abuse, there are no riots, no-go areas, etc as you find in other parts of the world.

    It's difficult to pronounce Gardai - it's a very flat "a" rather than an "o" sound as you suggest!:
    "The "Gardai" (pronounced "Goddie")..."

    Driving - roundabouts are quite common in western Europe in general, although I agree that they can be a nightmare to use!

    Pronounciation again! You state: "Although apparently an English-speaking nation, they seemed to find it very difficult to understand accents different from their own, thus you will be well served to enunciate your words and get used to "Ha?" "What?" ¦bloody annoying."

    Any immigrant needs to learn the language of his/her adopted country, wherever that may be. Ireland is noted for its use of the English language; if you are in any of the major cities during the summer months, be prepared for the usual influx of language students from a variety of European countries. I suggest you need to listen carefully to vowels, which tend to be more distinctive than, say, in England.

    Generally guilty - nobody is perfect! It tends to be prevalent in Dublin - you need to do some travelling in the west or south-west of ireland for some variations:
    "In addition, they do not pronounce their  "H"s", so get used to "Tirty-Tree" instead of "Thirty Three" or "Turd" instead of "Third"."

    Education - you suggest: "In regard to the Irish Educational system, I can only say, having observed its "alma maters" (the Irish youth), that it seems fundamentally flawed, and that the intellectual prowess of the average Irish youth seems, in my humble opinion, to be non-existent". Again, I suggest you generalize. One of the reasons for Ireland's recent prosperty (sometimes called the "Celtic Tiger") was the availability of highly educated and IT-savvy young people. This had the desired benefit of attracting many multinational companies (along with certain tax incentives). An increasing dilution of basic skills at secondary level in the past few years, combined with a less structured national syllabus resulted (in my opinion) in school leavers lacking essential skills, but I think you are being somewhat harsh!

    I totally agree with your final paragraph concerning the Irish as emmigrants - one of my current woes is the continuing dilution of Irish history at second level. History teaches us our mistakes and assists the future - we could all do with some of that at the moment!

    I look forward to reading your first hub and hope you continue to settle and integrate into Irish life.

    All the best,


    1. 60
      Ross Dix-Peekposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Dear Peter

      Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate them and concede that my criticism was a tad general in nature. It is the second time that my wife and I have emigrated to Ireland, and on both occasions it has proved to be a torrid affair, so my opinions may be a bit "subjective" in nature. But, having said that  Ireland is a beautiful country and the people are generally affable and likeable, and we are determined to make Ireland our "home". Ireland is indeed utopian in relation to my native country, Zimbabwe, as well  as the country I grew up in, South Africa. I could not agree with you more as to the importance of history in any educational system: History defines the future.
      Again, thank you for comments, Peter.

      Keep well,


      1. pjdscott profile image74
        pjdscottposted 7 years ago in reply to this

        Dear Ross,

        Keep writing (you must write a hub on your experiences of living in Ireland) - you have many valid points and dispel the notion that Ireland is always a wonderful place - of course it isn't always great! And anyone who experiences large groups of Irish people 'having a good time' knows it can be loud and intrusive, even if well intentioned and non-agressive (mostly!).

        It is heartbreaking to see Zimbabwe being destroyed and I hope that someone takes action to revert this - perferable at international level. My wife's aunt was a nun in Zimbabwe for many years, but had to retire to South Africa, due to the current situation.

        I look forward to your first hub,

        Wamest wishes and a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year to you and yours,


  3. VioletSun profile image69
    VioletSunposted 7 years ago

    My ex is Irish and was introduced to the Irish culture through him, even the Irish Coffee, smile which I never had tried, and as a culture I found them to be very colorful,  charming, and very proud of their music and heritage. In addition, I never saw discrimination coming from them when dealing with other nationalities, well at least this was my subjective experience.  The ex was not exactly an ideal companion, but I did enjoy glimpsing their culture.

  4. TravelMonkey profile image61
    TravelMonkeyposted 7 years ago

    I would love to visit Ireland. I live in England, work in Wales and frequently travel to Scotland but I have yet to take the ferry over to Ireland.

    1. Sufidreamer profile image79
      Sufidreamerposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      I was lucky enough to live and work in Ireland for two years. Crawled into a pint of Murphy's and stayed there! Happy Days wink

      1. pjdscott profile image74
        pjdscottposted 7 years ago in reply to this

        I don't suppose it was the one featured on this page:


        If you look hard enough, you can just see Sufidreamer's image lurking within the black stuff!! They make Murphy's stout in Cork, and it tends to be more common in Munster pubs, rather than anything within sniffing distance of Dublin. Did you work in Munster, Sufidreamer?

  5. Sufidreamer profile image79
    Sufidreamerposted 7 years ago

    smile That was cruel - I miss that so much!

    I did indeed, thanks - I worked on a fish-farm in a village outside Fermoy. Great place, great people and they even had me playing GAA. I was not very good at hurling, but I am 6'4", so they shoved me at Full Forward for the football. Great fun, and I still keep an eye on the results.

    I must admit, I was a little underwhelmed by Dublin - I suppose that progress means that most European capital cities are pretty similar nowadays. Cork was good for a night out, though! wink

    1. pjdscott profile image74
      pjdscottposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Excellent! I also worked in Cork (city) and had a great time there - I would agree that it's a far better night out than Dublin (and I'm Dublin born and bred).

      GAA is an amazing game - having played, I'm sure you can appreciate the skill of hurling. Total respect to you for immersing yourself in the local culture and activities.

  6. celticartist profile image60
    celticartistposted 7 years ago

    Thanks for the info. I'll keep it all in mind when I go for a visit. I draw Celtic art and want to go there so bad it's not even funny. I'd be there, but I plan on spending quite a bit when I get there.

    1. Sufidreamer profile image79
      Sufidreamerposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      You will have a great time.

      Just remember one thing - They will get you horrendously drunk. You will never be alone in an Irish Pub! wink

  7. Junkster profile image60
    Junksterposted 7 years ago

    I went to Dublin last year at the beginning of December and had a great time.  Our ferry got delayed in Holyhead and some trucker told me and my mates that to be careful where we go and where we shouldn't go.

    To be honest I think he was talking a load of tosh as we went all over the place once the guinness started flowing! I had a great time, taxi drivers in particular were the friendliest ones oyu'd ever hope for, only thing I'd say about going in December, it's bloody cold! smile

    1. 60
      Ross Dix-Peekposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      To live in a country and to visit it are two different things!