14 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Ireland
If you’re lucky enough to be moving to Ireland, you’re probably looking forward to living amongst the beautiful scenery that inspired the great Irish poets like Yeats, enjoying pints of Guinness and basking in the legendary Irish ‘craic’.
But on top of those heart-warming Irish clichés, there’s a few more things you need to know before moving to Ireland, or Éire as it’s called in Irish.
1. The country’s official first language is Irish Gaelic.
However, its second language, English, is spoken more widely. To hear the beautiful ancient Gaelic language in action, head to the Gaeltachtaí (areas where Irish is spoken daily), in counties like Mayo, Connemara, Kerry, Cork and Donegal. These are also some of the best areas to hear traditional Irish music and song.
2. Pronouncing Irish names can take some practice
Prepare to encounter names you may never have heard before, let alone spelled! Traditional Irish names like Niamh, Grainne, Caoimhe, Aoife, Cillian, Siobhan, Eoin, Tadhg, Saoirse, Bláithín, Róisín and Oisin are all commonplace. You’ll be a lot more popular if you can try and get a grip on their pronunciation before you arrive.
3. Sport is big – especially spectating
Ireland and Australia share a favourite sport: rugby. You might also come across new sports to try or watch, such as rough and ready Gaelic football, hurling or camogie.
4. You should get a car if you can
In a small country of this size (Ireland is about 100 times smaller than Australia), a car is a great way to explore. There is a public transport system, but many of the most beautiful parts of Ireland lie along winding country roads and on remote peninsulas that are much easier to reach by car. And unlike most of the rest of Europe, in Ireland they drive on the same side of the road as Australia.
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5. Ireland is only semi-metric
Like their neighbours in the UK, the Irish have only half-heartedly embraced the metric system. You’ll still find remnants of the imperial system kicking about from the pints of beer to the road signs in miles.
6. The weather, the weather, the weather…
Our guess is that nobody moves from Australia to Ireland for the weather – unless you’re just plain sick of all that oppressive hot weather. But while you need to prepare yourself for long, dark winters and plenty of rain and wind, Ireland repays you in lush green landscapes and wild, romantic settings. Plus, the summery destinations of southern Europe are just a short flight away when you need your sunshine fix. The beaches of Spain, Portugal, Italy and France are all less than five hours away.
7. Tradition is a big part of Irish culture
If there’s one Irish stereotype that rings true it’s a love of ‘the craic’. Storytelling is interwoven into everyday life in Ireland and there’s a wealth of mythology and folklore to discover. From tales of faeries and leprechauns to the legends of Cuchulain and the Fianna, the Irish hold their traditional stories dear. Traditional music, art, theatre and literature all add to the rich cultural offering. On the downside, many bureaucratic institutions could do with letting go of tradition and switching to modern times i.e. online forms.
8. These are ancient lands
History buffs will love exploring Ireland’s historic sites. The country is scattered with places of interest that reflect its 5,000-year history. From old monasteries to castles, there’s so much to see. Highlights include the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, Glendalough monastery in the Wicklow mountains, the Neolithic sites of Knowth, and Trim Castle in County Meath. A trip across the border to Northern Ireland is well worth it to see famous sights like the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle.
9. Weekends in Ireland are made for country living
We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, exploring Ireland’s stunning scenery is a must. Use your weekends to get out of the city and into the Emerald Isle’s countryside. It couldn’t be easier and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful sights from rugged cliffs and golden beaches to looming mountains and picturesque valleys. Don’t miss a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, the Beara Peninsula, Killarney National Park and the Wicklow Mountains. And that’s just to get you started!
10. The Irish totally get comfort food
The benefit of all that grey, drizzly weather is the warming comfort food served up to combat it. Hearty Irish stew, colcannon (a delicious marriage of mashed potato, bacon and cabbage), seafood soups with soda bread and huge dishes of coddle (a sausage and potato concoction) do a brilliant job of warming bellies and hearts. It’s not all carbs though, Ireland is also home to plenty of smart, modern restaurants that make use of the amazing fresh ingredients this fertile island produces.
11. The pubs are out of this world
Ireland is home to over 7,100 pubs, with the town of Liscannor in Co. Clare boasting a whopping one pub for every 26 people. Not bad! Socialising with friends in the pub is a favourite pastime, and with pubs like this it’s no wonder. Expect a great atmosphere, reasonable drinks prices, cosy surroundings and, if you’re lucky, some traditional music. Don’t worry if stylish wine bars are more your bag, the big cities like Dublin, Cork, and Limerick have plenty of modern establishments.
12. Religious sensitivity is a must
Ireland has a long and complicated history of religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. While a peace exists today, many residents will still vividly remember ‘The Troubles’ of 1970s and ‘80s. Coming from Australia, where there is little in the way of religious conflict, it’s important to respect the depth of the Irish religious divides and to tread carefully when discussing religion.
13. The St Patrick’s Day celebrations are epic
Saint Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s big national holiday. It officially takes place on 17th of March, although in many places the celebrations will stretch over 3 or 4 days. Head to the capital, Dublin, where buildings are lit up with green lights for the 4-day celebrations. There’s street parades, fun fairs, live music, pub crawls through Temple Bar – and plenty of Guinness on tap.
14. Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest a record seven times
That one’s really just a piece of useful trivia for you. You never know, it might come up in a pub quiz…