Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ireland: Still a Great Place to Live

It's 6 AM. I'm sitting in a hotel lobby near Dublin Airport. My father is flying in from Tampa (God bless him) and I'm up early to get some coffee into my system before fighting the traffic to the Arrivals Terminal. I'm talking to Dave, the night porter, and comparing notes. Dave has four kids. He's originally from Navan (where I lived for almost 30 years before escaping to Eyeries in West Cork). Dave is ruminating on his recent decision to move to County Cavan, 40 minutes or so up the road.

"Navan just isn't the same," he says. "It's filled with scumbags. It has too much crime. It's just not a good place to bring up kids anymore."  I can understand his sentiment. The growth of Navan, as well as all other bedroom communities around Dublin, is one of the many issues that propelled me out of the area like a scalded cat.

"What do you think of Cavan?" I ask, sipping my coffee. "Is it better for the kids?"

"Great schools," he responds as he gets ready to open up the hotel for early morning visitors. "Mind you, I love the States."

That catches my attention. "Have you been there?"  He nods. "Once. To Vegas. I loved it."  Me: "But would you live there? I mean, if you could do it, would you bring the kids and wife over and make a new life?"

That catches his attention. "Now I didn't say that, did I?" Dave replies. "Visiting is one thing. But leaving Ireland? Not on your life."

The Pull of Ireland
Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007 / 2008, thousands of Irish have had to immigrate to find new jobs and make a new life simply because Ireland was falling apart. Unemployment had surged, approaching 20 percent. The country was littered with ghost estates: new housing construction that had been halted because builders had run out of money. Entire families were being evicted from their homes because they couldn't pay their mortgages. In desperation, many fled to Australia, England, Canada, and the United States seeking a new start.

And yet... they did so reluctantly. They knew they were leaving behind a way of life that can rarely be found any more: people that care. Schools that teach kids how to read, write, and do 'rithmatic. Welcoming smiles of neighbours and friends. Pubs that do much more than serve a Pint but rather are the focus of many rural towns and villages.

In leaving they knew that they were leaving behind walks beneath soft Autumn rains and hikes along windswept ocean side trails. The coo of doves hidden in the branches of tall trees during mid-Summer. They would be abandoning their local GAA teams and the shouts and roars of disappointed Irish fans who watched as the Irish soccer team yet again crashed out of a European Final. They were leaving behind the Pull of Ireland - the magical magnetism of this country that is at the heart and soul of every person who has been born or lived here.

But - they're coming back. As the Irish economy recovers, these Irish immigrants, these stalwart thousands, are beginning to drift home in search of the spirit of Ireland that resides in their hearts. In talking with them, I find that they have enjoyed their time away. They enjoyed the humming city of Sydney and the frantic buzz of New York. They thrived and learned in Dubai. They put shoulders to the wheel of economies in Montreal, London, Berlin, and Madrid. But now many are coming home.

They come home to the open arms of their families. To the fine soft rain that descends to hug them on cool Autumn days. They come home to their mates who have waited for them by turf fires dotted around the country.  They come home to the wonder that is Ireland and to the recovering economy that can once again allow them to live here.

The Irish are on their way back home. They know that despite their travels, despite the trauma of the past few years, Ireland is still a great place to live.

They're coming home. And even if you're not Irish but are pulled here by the magnetism that is Ireland, now is the time to consider making Ireland your home too.

A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 Kindle Edition Now Available!
If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 


  1. What a lovely thought. Can't wait to make our first visit next year - will make it all the easier to convince my love that it's where we want to be! :)

  2. Good hearing from you John. For a change, the weather is cooperating. So if you're coming - bring along the sun too. We can use it - particularly after the absolutely lousy summer we've had. Tom

    1. We've certainly got plenty to spare in south Mississippi - will do my best to pack some, but you know the luggage prices are so high these days....

      I've actually got a conundrum that I'd love to know your thoughts on. My wife and I were discussing our dream "home away from home," and Ireland is a favorite consideration.

      Our issue is that I'm a great deal more outgoing than she is, but we both highly value privacy and quiet -- we don't particularly like anyone, even family, showing up at our door unannounced and such.

      It's hard to pick apart anecdotal assumption from reality without having actually been to Ireland yet - is this kind of behavior more common given the more "neighborly" mind-set?

      It's not that we don't like people at all (and I could certainly do with more pleasant neighbors in general), but more that we don't want to feel "forced" into a more outgoing lifestyle because that's just the way things are.

      It's all hypothetical anyway, but we're curious to know from an ex-pat's perspective.

      Hope all is well!

  3. G'morning! And a great question. Like the States, the answer varies regionally - at least somewhat. In general, the Irish can be very friendly. Like you, I rather value my privacy. When I lived in Navan - sort of a Dublin suburb - we had great neighbours but they'd do well to leave us alone (while always being there in any crisis). In Eyeries - very much rural Ireland - folks are even friendlier probably due to the close knit nature of the community. Frankly, they'll talk your arse off! And when I first moved in - I'll never forget it - the front door suddenly opened and there stood a neighbor bound for a cup of tea and a chat. So.. I've learned to keep the front door locked. I've been living in Eyeries for 5 years now and I know the folk much better. They know I like to chat but also know that I value my private time. So we've come to an understanding. Of the two places I like Eyeries better - now that I'm used to it. I get all the privacy I want (and it's a quiet, peaceful village so much to be had). But if I want to chat to folks they're right there. And must say - it's great to walk down a quiet street and occasionally bump into people that I know and enjoy. Sure hope that answers the question, John. Any others just let me know. Tom

  4. That's exactly as I imagined (and hoped), and pretty much like our area here in the rural southern US. Family's still a bit more intrusive, but then they won't be following us over. :)

    We'll have to do some serious research (as if we wouldn't have) if it's something that pans out. My goal is to enter the country on "business permission" - I want to open an EU branch of my software and digital marketing consultancy - so I'm almost afraid Dublin is my only real option (not to say anything against Dublin, just that we like the rural lifestyle). Cork may also be suitable, and then I often forget that the whole of Ireland, north and south, is about the size of Indiana. :)

    In any event, I feel confident that we'll be able to find our "spot" when the time comes (especially once I've finished your book - loving it so far!). :)

    Thanks for your take!

  5. Tom, just from your blog alone I could settle in Ireland sight unseen. If I had the means I would! I still every Christmas read that lovely post you wrote about a Christmas from your early days in Ireland. It makes me long for the place. I really have to get over there!

    1. That one was one of my favorites, too! Captures everything about what I hope for in the Auld Country. :)

  6. Dear Nikki and John: sure glad you liked the Christmas entry. Must do another one this year about Christmas in Eyeries. VERY different and quite lovely (mind you I'll have to re-read what I wrote. Can't remember it at all right now!) John - yep, Dublin is your best bet for now anyway. I owed a Marketing consulting co for many years in Dunshaughlin County Meath - just NW of the city. When I moved to Eyeries (WAYYYY down in the SW) I moth-balled the Co - just too far away from most biz contacts. That said, I still write for businesses (EMC and some others - case studies, white papers, web content) right from the comfort of my attic with a view of the Atlantic out the window. Thank God for reasonable broadband!

  7. Very interesting! At least in the US, I'm not really constrained geographically for new business (though local is certainly an easier sale, generally) - I'm curious if that would still hold true there. I like the Kinsale area, so I'd obviously be more oriented to Cork. I also envision IE being my base for EU business in general, reaching first to Republic of Ireland, then to the UK, then to non-English speaking countries as I'm able to bring on multi-lingual talent.

    In any event, I'm (mostly) just dreaming for the moment, and who knows what it'll all look like in 5 years? :)

    I had to go back and review your Christmas posts, myself, by the way! I enjoyed all of them, but my favorite was the one you actually did write about Christmas in Eyeries. Would certainly enjoy anything else you might have to write on the matter. :)

  8. Do you have a post on how to stay in Ireland. Not work just stay. Lets say I had property in Ireland, is it easy enough to get permission to stay. And if I did would this count towards my five years of residency to be granted another 5 years solid of permission to stay?

  9. Interesting question and I've never been asked it before. So I took a look - and you can too.

    Go to: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_to_ireland/coming_to_live_in_ireland/retiring_to_ireland.html

    I also found a document that answers your question. It's a downloadable Word Doc located in the above URL. Just down the page, see the subhead: Residence Rights. Then click on permission to remain, underlined in the text. Good luck!

  10. Thank you Tom. Those resources were very helpful.

  11. Love this post! I'm from England originally, but I spent years living in Dublin. Currently I'm back in England, but hoping to return to Ireland in the near future, especially as my (American) boyfriend is still in Galway.I miss the friendliness as well. It's definitely true that Irish people are returning- it seems more like emigration is a short-term thing to do after college these days.

  12. Hi Isobel and thanks for visiting the Blog. Sure hope you get back out here at some point. Things seem to be picking up (though in some parts of Ireland you wouldn't know it at all! So best to stick to larger cities if you're starting to look around). Take good care... Tom (where does that American boyfriend hail from? :))