Ireland is one of those picturesque countries you see in the movies. Anyone who doesn’t already live in Ireland has probably dreamed about visiting the country, rolling around in the green grass, sitting among the sheep on the hilltops, singing Irish tunes with locals, and hunting down relatives that may still be settled there. It’s a common trip added to people’s bucket lists, but not many actually know much about it before getting off the plane.
The East and West Coasts of Ireland are like two entirely different countries. Not only is the scenery different, but the people are different too. Accents out west are predominantly more strong and harder to understand than the east. Nonetheless, talking to locals on both sides really adds to the overall cultural experience of your trip, just try not to bombard them with questions about your last name to see if you could be related, you’d really just be writing “tourist” across your forehead. Some bars in Dublin even put out signs to attract visitors that say, “come in and tell us about your relatives.”
Dublin is an incredible city to live in, but first arriving there can be a bit of a shock. Not that it’s dangerous, it just won’t be the Ireland you’re expecting. It’s extremely urban and for any other Americans out there, it strongly resembles flying into Newark Liberty International Airport when you’re expecting to land in New York City. The old-time feeling of Dublin is amazing, but can also be really depressing on a rainy day. The entire aura of the city is dark, which you come to love in time, but at first it can have you wondering where all the “green” is.
Life in Dublin soon becomes completely infectious. Not only will you meet a ton of very friendly Irish locals, but you’ll also connect with people from all over the world. Going to pubs later at night is something you must do because that’s when the music starts. You’ll even occasionally get a local that brings their instruments and starts playing at the bar. Mostly everyone will join in, singing, dancing, clapping, and stomping their feet. Some fun pubs to visit are: The Brazen Head, O’Shea’s, Flannery’s, Whelan’s, and The Cobblestone.
North Dublin VS. South Dublin is something you should definitely take note of. North and South Dublin are separated by the River Liffey. The North side has a lot more shopping, where the South is where Temple Bar is located and a few universities. As an outsider, nothing seems to drastically differentiate the two, but they have a rivalry going, so be ready to take a side.
When you’re looking for some additional scenery, there are two options easily accessible by the Dart ( a train) from countless stations in downtown Dublin. You can also take the bus, which lets you see more while you’re travelling there. Howth is a small fishing village located northeast of the city. If you choose the bus route, you can take it right from City Centre to the Howth Summit, which drops you off overlooking the Irish sea. The views are breathtaking. From there, you would walk down the hill towards the town. If you take the dart, you’ll dropped off in the town and would need to climb up the hill, which is physically-challenging, but easy to do as long as it’s not raining.
Dun Laoghaire (pronounced “Dun Leary”) is south of the city and is also a seaside town, home to the Forty Foot, a famous swimming spot in the Dublin Bay. People have been swimming there, rain or shine, for over 200 years. The water isn’t warm, but it is refreshing. There’s a rock you can jump off too, which adds to the fun. Home to rocky beaches and outstanding fish and chips, Dun Laoghaire gives you someplace to go relax away from the city.
The Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough are also located fairly close to Dublin, but if you’re planning on venturing up into the mountains, it’s best to go with a tour. Wild Wicklow and GetYourGuide pick people up in Dublin and drive them through both, Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains. Glendalough is a settlement from the sixth century and extremely scenic, including an upper and lower lake. There are also sheep running around in the fields surrounding Glendalough, so you should not bring a dog. There’s a sign saying “dogs who bother sheep will be shot,” so be forewarned. From the top of the Wicklow Mountains, you’re looking down over the Wicklow Valley and the rolling green hills are just amazing. Not to mention, depending on your tour guide, you may get to see some filming locations for the television show, Game of Thrones and movie, P.S. I Love You.
Making friends with locals is one of the best parts about living in Dublin, but it can be hard to pick up on some of their “lingo.”
Here are some words you should familiarize yourself with before living in Dublin:
In America we call “prinks” “pregaming.” Prinks is short for “pre-drinks,” so the drinks before the drinks. Can also be known as “happy hour” here in the states.
We don’t have a word for this in America…but “smirting” means flirting while smoking. If you’re out at a bar and you follow someone out for a cigarette, you’re smirting.
This one is important. If someone asks you “how was the craic last night” it’s going to sound a lot like “how was the crack last night.” They’re not insinuating that you did cocaine the night before, they’re asking how your time was. If you say “the craic was 90” you had a really good time. If you say “the craic was 91” your smirting was a success.
Dublin is a fantastic place to live no matter your age. It gives a little something to everyone that steps foot in it and sends you off feeling better about the world.
If you’re only visiting Dublin for a short period of time, you can also take advantage of the endless amount of tours that leave from the city and go to the west coast. One of the more popular tour companies is called Paddywagon.