Observations about Ireland so far

August 2, 2010

While not as big as London, nearly half of Ireland's 5 million inhabitants live in Dublin.

Here are just a few random observations that I made while in Dublin and out on field trips to Newgrange and Monostaryboice:

1. A lot of stores are situated on top of one another in two or three story buildings. You might see a sign for a tattoo shop directly above a door for a ground floor store but be looking into a grocery store or tourist shop. Then you realize that you have to go into the store and either up or down a creaky set of stores to access the other store.

2. The beggers on the street work harder for their spare change. A woman helped me, Carol and Torie figure out our bus route to the viking museum on the Luas station where you pay for tickets and then asked for spare change afterwards. It’s quite a good strategy, actually. Ireland is in a recession, just as the states are so while I haven’t seen anyone standing on corners with signs, I have seen the occasional unfortunate individual sleeping in one of the parks.

3. Most of the bathrooms lack paper towels and have hand dryers with very low settings. The toilets are also low-flow and rarely automatic. I’m not sure yet if they Irish here are frugal because it’s the green thing to do or if they are trying to save money because of the recession.

4. At Temple Bar, comparable to Ybor City in Tampa, street performers take their performance space seriously. A harmonica player had a brawl with a magician who had his mic turned up too loudly and was drowning out his harmonica.

5. You have to pay about 30-50 Euro cents to use most public restrooms. There is a turnstile that bars you from entering until you put the exact change in and often bathroom attendants or cameras are close by watching to make sure you don’t climb over it.

6. People don’t use the word “bathroom” here. Most the bathrooms say “toilets” and every once in a blue moon, “restrooms.” If you ask for the bathroom, you get a confused look and pointed in a direction that will not lead you to a  toilet. Bathrooms here are washrooms without toilets.

7. Dublin is a pedestrian and bicycling society. There are several streets that can only be accessed on foot or by bike and bridges built for people to walk over. We managed to make all our trips within the city on foot or by using the light rail system for 1.50 Euros.

8. Two observations about waitresses/waiters: 1. They won’t split checks. It must be some sort of cultural thing that one person in the group picks up the tab but no offense my new friends, I can’t afford to pay for all of you and I know you feel the same way. So it’s easiest for either one person to throw it on a card and have the table give them money or for everyone to pony up their share of the money to pay the single bill. Taxes are built in so the prices are generally whatever’s on the menu, plus international bank fees if  your bank charges those 2. They take their time. They are in no hurry and expect that you aren’t. Unless you go into the Mickey D’s, and I wouldn’t because I’ve spent too much money to come on the trip to eat burgers, you aren’t getting your food quickly. I’ve been lucky to have them take my order within half an hour of sitting down. They don’t check on your drinks that often and aren’t in a  rush to get you your bill. they’re very friendly, but a little too relaxed for my impatient American tastes.

9. The street lights are off to the side of the road and much lower. No cables run overhead except that of the light rail. There are also special green lights for pedestrians and bicycles.

10. Most of the stores seem to be small businesses, I assume family-run, and not chain stores.

11. The toilet handles are not where we always find them in the U.S. Sometimes you have to pull a long cord, sometimes it’s a button on top of the tank- it’s always a fun game of treasure hunt to figure out how to flush the toilet. Same goes for the shower faucets.

More to come as I spend time in Limerick, a town which, so far, seems more country than city.

Potato Famine Memorial for the victims of the potato blight in the mid-1800s.

Bridge in Dublin- designed to look like a harp, an instrument that is very important in Irish history.

Boiled cabbage and bacon on mashed potatoes. It doesn't get any more Irish than this. Fyi guys, bacon as we know it is not to be found here. It's all what we normally refer to as "Canadian bacon."

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One Response to “Observations about Ireland so far”

  1. Mike said

    Pretty cool! Looking forward to more. Reading this thru the iUSF app.

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