Dublin’s Best Food

  1. Fish-n-Chips

Hot, greasy and salty, this option is an Irish classic and a personal favorite. Hands-down the best fish-n-chips in Dublin is Leo Burdock’s. I am personally loyal to the original location at 2 Werburgh Street (downhill from Christ Church Cathedral, just past Lord Edward pub). This is carry-out only so I usually picnic by Dublin Castle or one of the cathedrals. However, if you want indoor seating then go for one of their newer locations: Temple Bar, Rathmines, Dundrum or The Square Tallaght.

Insider tip: The portions are huge! One order of chips will feed 2-3 people. Always ask for salt & vinegar.

Livy via flickr
Livy via flickr
  1. Avoca Cafe

More wholesome and comfortable than fish-n-chips, Avoca Cafe is the gold-standard in Irish cafe dining. Combining traditional Irish home-style cooking with more exotic fare, their seasonal menu always has something new. And the locations are beautiful! Mount Rushmore Gardens, Powerscourt Gardens, Fern House, and Avoca Village each deserve a visit in their own right – a lovely cafe is just icing on the cake.

Insider tip: For a budget-friendly meal, just order a salad and a dessert. They are to die for!

Avoca Ireland via flickr
Avoca Ireland via flickr

3. Marks and Spencers Rooftop Cafe

In the Grafton Street location of Marks and Spencers is one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets, a rooftop cafe. The views aren’t all that amazing but it’s a great spot to take a break and watch the world passing by down below on Grafton Street. Tea, cakes, and free wifi — what more do you need?

Insider tip: Downstairs in the “Food Hall” is the Marks&Sparks grocery store full of hipster goodies like pre-made meals and vegetarian sweets (Percy Pigs are the best).

  1. Farmers Markets

Every weekend Farmer’s Markets fill the parks throughout Ireland. Go in the morning for fresh veg or wander over around lunch time for street food. Nutella crepes are a childhood favorite. Some markets in the Dublin area include Christ Church Cathedral, Marley Park, Bushy Park and Dun Laoghaire. You can probably find one in your neighborhood.

Insider tip: Bring a grocery bag for fresh veg, second hand books, or locally crafted souvenirs – you won’t be leaving empty-handed.

  1. Carvery Lunch

A unique aspect of Irish pubs is their day-time business as a family-friendly restaurant. Each Sunday pubs across the nation fill up with families out for “Sunday dinner” i.e. late lunch. A carvery is a buffet-style meal where you choose from a selection of roast meats which are “carved” to order. Sides usually include boiled carrots and parsnips, sauteed cabbage, and plenty of potatoes. Pubs can gain quite a reputation for the quality of their carvery lunches so ask around to find your “local.” My old neighborhood’s best carvery lunch was The Eden (on the 16 bus route near Pearse Park).

Insider tip: Generally, the longer the line the better the food!

Jeremy Keith via flickr

Blog Post By Rebecca Robyn Thompson, for more see:  www.yournewnormal.wordpress.com  


The In’s and Out’s of Moving to Ireland

Pre Planning 

Prior to moving to Ireland, I had done my fair share of research on accommodation, culture, jobs etc., to help prepare me for the move. I read a lot about how in Dublin it was tough to find accommodation and that Cork had a more options at more reasonable prices. I did all I could to ensure that I wouldn’t be screwed over once I got there (I am somewhat anal and OCD about that kinda stuff). Some of the things I had come across online such as difficulties around affordable housing and how Ireland was slowly coming back from a recession which would make it hard to find a job, were true to some extent.

The Arrival

When I first arrived in Dublin, I had completed all the paperwork/documents that USIT provided to me. They helped me a great deal with any questions that I had about bank accounts, accommodation, PPS# etc. I felt that if I were more prepared, the less scary the orientation would be and I could spend more time listening and asking appropriate questions instead of feeling anxious. My biggest take away from the welcome orientation with USIT was to be organized! Prior to leaving your home country –  make sure you have your meeting with the GARDA bureau scheduled (appointments are essential in Dublin – and they allow bookings to be made up to 6 weeks in advance. Cork allows for walk-ins and is usually less busy). The GARDA appointment took almost 2 hours (even with an appointment) and cost €300 only payable by credit card. They ask you a few questions and take your photo and then issue you the GNIB card. This card is important as it allows you to legally work in the country and you can start to look for work right away.


However, Ireland still requires you to apply for your PPS# as well (think of it as a Social Insurance Number). This # is crucial because it puts you into their tax system, which allows them to keep track of your income, in which then they can tax you accordingly. A lot of employers prefer that you have this number already, because it is a bit of a hassle to hire someone who doesn’t have one. In order to do this properly, once you get your PPS#, you have to go to revenue.ie and fill out a tax certificate form in which you answer quite a few questions ( and then they issue your employer a tax certificate. When they get this tax certificate in the mail (they like to do everything by post), that is when they will be able to take you off of emergency tax.

Finding Work

The first thing I would recommend doing after you’ve received your GNIB card is to look for a job. Send out as many CVs you can, as that’ll give you more chances to receive an email back from someone. USIT was very helpful in fine tuning my CV (CV formats differ from country to country). The USIT office also had plenty of job listings posted in their office. The faster you find a job, the quicker you will be able to apply for a PPS#; since it is required that you have a job offer letter from an employer stating that you have been offered a job and will be working with that company. 


Most employers will not know all the information that is needed on the job offer letter, so it is important to let them know exactly what you need them to write in order to make the offer letter valid. The Intreo office is in the city centre of Cork and is open during regular office hours. You walk in, take a number and meet with someone to make sure you have all the appropriate documents. The proof of address can be given in a form of a utility bill OR a utility bill with the landlord’s name or an approved letter by USIT. You CANNOT get a PPS number without a proof of address. 


Accommodation sign with a beautiful day

When I first arrived in Cork, I had arranged a stay with a fellow participant who I met through the Facebook group. I chose this option instead of staying at a hostel because I wanted privacy and I didn’t want to look for a job while living out of a hostel. Also, it was much cheaper and felt more “homey” if you will. Once we were settled in, I began looking for a job right away. Luckily, I was able to find a job in just over a week. This was possible because there are plenty of jobs in the  hospitality industry. Once I started my job, I asked for a job offer letter right away. This was because I had gone to see many house showings but were quickly turned down due to the fact that my boyfriend and I both did not have jobs yet. Obviously, not many landlords would be comfortable with tenants who did not have jobs. The main websites that I used to look for accommodation was rent.ie and daft.ie. I emailed as many listings as I could and went to as many showings as I could. The market at the moment is ridiculous. Luckily, after a week and a half of searching, we found a landlord who was happy with only one of us having a job and allowed us to move in. We got a 6 bedroom house right in the city centre. However, it is a shared house with 6 other people. This may sound crazy, but the house is big enough with more than enough space and is renovated new with added bathrooms/en suites. BUT – our rent is incredibly high still (This is the reality of the housing crisis at the moment). If I could give some advice, it would be to join a group on Facebook about finding housing in Ireland and there are people who are posting about looking for flatmates regularly. Be prepared to live with other people. Be prepared to pay a lot for rent. And be prepared to look outside of the city for accommodation. Whatever you decide, just do not get discouraged and continue to look until you find a place. Cork is not that big and you can get to most places walking in 30 mins or less. Once you find a place, you might have to pay for additional fees such as refuse (garbage/recycling), electricity and wifi and cable. These expenses are not always covered by the landlord/owner. Now that I’ve been settled into my place for a month now, I can honestly say I love it and it’s really starting to feel like home. We bought some things to decorate our room and all of our housemates clean/friendly. Luckily, we had an option of signing either a 6 month or 12 month lease. Some places require a minimum of 12 months, but a lot of people find other tenants to take over their lease over if need be. Now, the reason I was so eager to find a place was because I knew I needed a proof of address for  my PPS #. Also, in order to open a bank account – you need a proof of address and that requires a letter from revenue in which you can only get once you get your PPS #. Finally, I registered my PPS # with revenue and received a letter from them with my NAME and ADDRESS (valid for the bank) and my employer received a tax certificate in which they were finally able to take me off emergency tax. So, as you can see, this step is critical. Also, when I made the appointment for the PPS #, it was made for 2 weeks later. So be prepared to have to wait a bit for the bank account. So, the quicker you get all this done, the better. I arrived in Cork on August 3rd, and started my job on August 10th. I moved into my house on August 12th and received my PPS # on August 23rd. I received my letter from from revenue and opened my bank account on September 4th (but didn’t get my card in the Post until September 12th). So, all in all, even with preparation and research – it still took me roughly a month to settle in and get all my ducks in order.

This can be stressful, but if you’re organized and prepared financially (such as having some extra money to live off of while you look for a job) will be very helpful! Once it’s all dealt with, it finally starts to feel real and you can enjoy your hard earned money!


Blog Post By Current Work in Ireland Participant: Michelle To.

Keep up with Michelle’s Ireland Adventures on her Blog: Just Swell.