Ah Sure It’s Great Craic Over Here

The Decision Maker

Coming to Ireland was the best decision I’ve ever made. However, it’s not for what you might think. I haven’t done many touristy things, though I will before I leave. The initial “why” of my coming was the typical “get-out-of-your-comfort-zone-see-the-world” reason. I didn’t really know what this meant though, not really. Before coming I had done various things to get out of my comfort zone, but nothing to this degree. I had been living with my dad throughout high school in Alabama, then through college I lived in a dorm and everything was paid for by a scholarship I was blessed to receive. In the year following college, I stayed with my sister in Tennessee while saving up for here. While I had a full-time job and paid my bills, I still felt like I had a cushion. One could argue that I could have had the culture shock of truly being on my own back home just by moving into an apartment in another city by myself. However, there is something about being an ocean away. While technology makes the world smaller these days, I’ve never felt farther away from my family. I arrived here on October 22, 2017, and so much has happened that I feel I’ve been here for years already.

Before Coming Here

I had preconceived ideas about Ireland, its culture and the people based on stories I’d read, movies I’d seen and songs I’d listened to. Call it being too busy working two jobs saving up or thinking I would figure it out, but I did virtually no research on Ireland beyond tourist tips. I really wish I had, as it would have saved me time and some measure of culture shock. However, it was a good lesson I learned in terms of truly respecting another’s culture and doing my utmost to understand it before arriving. For instance, it didn’t occur to me that Ireland would have different showers than we do in the US. In the US, we just have temperature (either a turn dial or two taps) knobs, then a transfer knob you pull to transfer the water flow from the bottom faucet to the shower head. Here, they have either immersion (which is expensive to use, but it basically heats the water in the water heater and you have to wait for it to heat up before taking a shower/bath. And you must turn it off after you’re done) or electric showers, which is a box on the wall in the shower that heats the water as it comes out of the head. The first experience I had with this I was turning it to the wrong setting and taking lukewarm showers. However, in the end it was all sorted and I got over this small example of culture shock.

Staying Here

The second and perhaps most important piece of advice I have is for the housing situation you will have when you arrive. In a sharing situation where you will have housemates sharing all the same space, ensure that everything from shared cleaning duties to shared bills is made clear before you sign a lease agreement. Sometimes it takes a while to find a place where you will feel like you get along with the people, and with it being in your price range. In this case, I would advise saving up as much as possible so that you will have enough to stay in hostels/AirBnbs. It will save time and money in the long run if you wait. Don’t get to a point where you feel desperate and you must choose or settle for a certain home/apartment. Give yourself enough funds and time. Five days in a hostel cost around €115, and I stayed in an AirBnb that was €19/night for a week following my first week. As such, around €815 euro should do you for the first month, if you budget. However, it is always better to have a cushion to fall back on, so even having €1,000 for your first month is ideal.

Sorting Work and Getting Paid

My advice for getting quickly immersed in the culture is to obtain a job as soon as possible and start the process of obtaining a PPS number and bank account. I made an appointment with the GNIB office (now IRP) prior to coming. However, given the wait list, I wasn’t able to make an appointment until mid-November. This step was fairly easy, however, make sure you show up at least 30 minutes beforehand as it seems the office is always busy. I advise getting an Irish job as soon as possible because I waited three months before pursuing one. When I did get a job in Ireland, I was able to get a PPS number. Even if you have to do seasonal work to begin with, just get a job where the employer will provide an official hire letter with your address on it. The steps of the registration process is why I advise getting a job as soon as possible because you can’t get paid until you have a PPS number and you can’t get a PPS number until you have a job. For the appointment, it will be helpful if you have a letter to your address with your name on it (I got a letter from Amnesty International as I had joined shortly before). As the handbook states, you will also need a letter on official stationary from your employer with your address on it. When the PPS officer asks you the reason that you are getting your PPS number, say it is for work (I said to help get my bank account set up and she said they don’t do that). It’s a bit chaotic at the office but they don’t waste time, so be sure you have all of your documents ready to show them. I received my PPS number in the mail a few days later. Once you have this, you can register with Revenue.ie. Following this, you will receive a pin/temporary password in the mail a few days later that you’ll use to finish registering. Once this is done, you’ll have access to your account and you’ll be able to enter your employer’s information (their official name and employer tax id). This is your P45 information and will be sent to them so that you won’t get emergency taxed. With the two letters from revenue (PPS number and pin/temporary password), you can obtain a bank account. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping all of your documents together, as they are needed at every step of the process, and it will give you peace of mind to know where they are. My bank account took about a week to be set up, and then I sent my information to the payroll department of the company I am working for. Following that, things are fairly simple. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is obtaining the P45 from them if you choose to switch jobs.

The 411

So, they are the official steps that I experienced and my advice for it going more smoothly. While I wish I had immersed myself in the culture sooner, I don’t regret the three months I delayed getting a job. I found my bearings quite quickly in terms of transportation etc. I’m not saying it takes that long to adapt, but it was a good time for me. I learned a lot about myself and how I respond to various situations I had never been in before. One might not consider a situation that points out your flaws a good situation, but I did. Being here has changed me, and continues to change who I am as a person, on a professional and personal level. I had initially come here as the typical tourist, but I have since learned that this process is about so much more than “seeing the sights.” I have met people who have inspired me to be a better, more informed person about the world, and about my own country. The Irish have a rich history, of which they are fiercely proud. They’re also very informed about their history and current events. There are those in my country who are like this as well. However, I was not one of them.

The Lingo

In regards to their culture, which I am still getting to know, it is so much more than I thought. There are certain phrases that took a little getting used to such as “come ‘ere” and “your man.” When I first arrived, an Irish woman was telling me a story and kept referring to one character of her story as “your man.”

I was confused and said, “What man? I don’t have a man”. This phrase and “your woman” is used in reference to a previously mentioned character.

“Your woman was talking constantly and telling story after story.”

I learned that “come ‘ere” is akin to “listen closely.”

“Ah, come ‘ere, we’re going to meet to go out on Grafton Street.”

It was phrases like these, and discovering that Irish Gaelic is one of the more beautiful languages I’ve ever heard, that was a pleasant surprise. The Irish accent, which is what I now know as one of the accents of Dublin, has always been my favorite out of all the accents I’ve heard. However, since being here I have learned that there are many accents that are variations of what I’ve been exposed to in mainstream American cinema. This makes sense though because the US has different accents in its different regions as well.. There are some accents in the more rural parts of Ireland that are more difficult to understand, but for me that makes it even more fascinating.

Ultimately, I have learned much about approaching another culture with a truly open mind, which is what you must have. When you come here, and it may sound silly, but come with a mind like a child, completely open and soaking up every bit of information. After learning some very necessary lessons and adapting to being immersed in the culture, I have fallen in love with Ireland, its people and culture. Because of this, I am trying to extend my visa so that I may stay in this lovely country longer. However, if I am unable, Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

So, if you’re thinking of coming to Ireland…

Rachel Anderson, Work in Ireland Participant

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Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Ireland

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is located in Dublin and is a must see for very visitor to Ireland. The Storehouse is also Ireland’s most famous attraction so book in advance! Not only does it offer the best view of Dublin but you also get a free pint of ‘the black stuff’. Very tempting! The Guinness Storehouse tells the story of how Guinness became Ireland’s largest export. Travel through 7 floors of storytelling to get to the Gravity Bar. This attraction gives a real insight into Irish culture and is definitely worth the admission price!


Cliffs of Moher

A personal favourite for its exceptional views.  The cliffs overlook the Atlantic Ocean and stretch across 5 miles. The Cliffs of Moher is a worldwide known attraction and last year over 1 million tourists visited the cliffs. A visitor centre has been newly opened and gives its visitors an interactive experience. The Aran Islands, Galway Bay, The Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk Mountains can all be seen from the cliffs. This attraction is definitely a must for photographers as it is one of the most instagrammed places in Ireland.

CLiffs

 


Dublin Zoo

If you are an animal lover, Dublin Zoo is a must visit tourist attraction. Located in Phoenix Park in Dublin City it is a very popular attraction for all ages. Dublin Zoo is a fun filled day out and is home to over 600 different animals. The Zoo also holds different events throughout the year so make sure you look them up online and see what’s happening! The Asian forests are the newest part of Dublin Zoo where visitors can see Asian lions and Sumatran tigers. Make sure to check out the animals feeding times in advance to get the most of the experience.


Boyne Valley

Boyne Valley is located in the East of Ireland in Co. Meath. It was once Ireland’s ancient capital and it’s most sacred and mythical landscape. If you are looking to discover Irish history from ancient times it is definitely a place you should visit. You can admire the views at Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Europe; you can visit the great prehistoric tombs at Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange) and the site of the infamous Battle of the Boyne. Visiting the Hill of Tara is a must, as you are sharing the views with the ancient High Kings of Ireland and be mesmerised by the detail of the Celtic Crosses at Kells. Boyne Valley has excellent guided tours to bring you right back to ancient times and let you explore the vast Irish history up close and personal.

Boyne Valley

 

 

 

 


Aran Islands

A trip to the West of Ireland would be imperfect without visiting the Aran Islands. If you wish to experience real Irish culture these islands are a must do. The locals speak English and Irish so you definitely will pick up a few ‘focal’ (See your already learning!). Previous visitors recommend renting a bike to explore the islands. The Aran Islands have lots of outdoor activities like fishing, surfing and boat trips. An excellent place to visit to unwind and merge yourself into Irish culture.

Aran Islands

 

 

 

 


Titanic Experience Belfast

The Titanic Belfast is Northern Ireland’s biggest tourism attraction. It was also awarded the world’s leading tourist attraction. (If you loved the film it is a must visit!). The Titanic experience takes you through nine interactive galleries. The story is told in a fun and insightful way leaving visitors intrigued. The story starts with yhr ships conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end. The tours last up to 2 hours and the audio tours can be listened to in different languages. Visitors can now also have afternoon tea and there are one hour walking tours of how the Titanic was built. Visitors are advised to book in advance due to its popularity.


Ring of Kerry

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities you should escape to Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 179km circular route of the Iveragh Peninsula. The route is best done at a leisurely pace to take in the scenery and the breath taking views. It also offers visitors the chance to experience surfing, cycling, hill walking, golfing, fishing and so much more. This area of natural beauty offers visitors views from the Atlantic Ocean, small picturesque villages and cliffs and mountains. Tourists are urged to explore the smaller towns and discover hidden gems amongst historic monuments.

Ring of Kerry

 

 

 

 


Croke Park

Croke Park is home to the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), located in Dublin City. The stadium is one of the largest in Europe, with a capacity of 82,300 people. It can accommodate all types of events – from field sports to concerts, meetings to tradeshows and bespoke banqueting. Ask any Irish sporting fan where their favourite place to be on a summer’s Sunday is – and the ansdwer is sure to be Croke Park. There is nothing quite like experiencing the atmosphere and the passion the Irish people have for GAA. Gaelic games are played throughout the year but the summer is when the key battles take place and the city is swarmed in each county’s colours. Croke Park also offers historical tours and its newest attraction a skyline tour of Dublin. The views are exceptional!


Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway is located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It is Northern Irelands only UNESCO World Heritage site. Giant’s Causeway was created by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. You can also learn about the myth of Finn MacCool which will add an interesting and fun element to your visit. Your visit to the attraction will include an audio visual presentation, you can browse in the souvenir shop and also there is a tourist information office on site. And not to leave out the spectacular walks and scenery all dwelled deep in history.

Giants Causeway

 

 

 

 


Blarney Castle and Gardens

Blarney Castle and gardens is a famous landmark in County Cork. There are three parts to the experience, Blarney stone, castle gardens and rock close. The most famous and talked about would be Blarney stone. Hundreds of pilgrims flock here daily, climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. When you reach the top visitors lean back and hold onto an iron rail and receive the gift of eloquence. There are some great stories behind the origin and guides tell you the stories in a fun and interesting way. And not to forget the gardens, you can wander around exploring the tranquil and magical surroundings.


Blog Post by Emma Callaghan, Work in Ireland.

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