Last September when my wife and I moved to Dublin from the United States, a fog of uncertainty hung over us. Lots of things were changing in our lives all at once, and it was a bit intense. On top of being newly married, we found ourselves in a new country looking for a place to live and trying to figure things out. It was a bit of a rough start; I had to leave the country for a month until I sorted some things out with immigration, and then I wasn’t able to start working until February. But one year in, we are long past the initial stress of moving and are loving our new life here in Ireland.
Now don’t get me wrong – we do miss some things about home: family and friends, familiar places, Philly sports, to name a few. But Dublin itself is starting to feel more and more like home to us as we grow accustomed to our lifestyle here. We are making friends at work, school, and our church, and building relationships and frequenting new local places. I am slowly learning more about Irish sports – I’ve even had the opportunity to see a few Gaelic football games at Croke Park, although I can’t say I follow it closely yet. In addition to learning more about Irish sports, I’ve enjoyed participating in a basketball league here in Ireland.
One of the things we love about Dublin compared to back home is the lifestyle. We care about environmental issues, and living in Dublin has helped us live a more eco-friendly life. We don’t own a car here; our primary modes of transportation are buses, walking and biking. I only recently got a bike because I wanted to save time on my daily commute to work (I had been walking). Besides being more eco-friendly, walking and biking are also less stressful than driving a car and sitting in traffic. We have also found that there are more plastic-free options in grocery stores here in Dublin as well as an abundance of farmer’s markets on Saturdays in many of Dublin’s parks.
Furthermore, Dublin as a city is fantastic. There is so much culture and lots of events happening throughout the year. We enjoy going to “trad sessions” (Irish traditional music) at local pubs, visiting all the free museums and festivals, and learning about Irish history. There are public parks and squares all over the city to enjoy – there are six within a 15 minute walk of where I work, for example, which I frequently take advantage of on my lunch breaks. And there are tons of quaint shops and bookstores all over the city. We’ve noticed that Ireland is very different from the U.S. in this respect – smaller stores are the norm, and as a result there are much more local options for shopping that require less travel. We also love the ease and convenience of public transportation in the city.
Finally, one of the best things about living in Dublin has been the chance for us to explore the city’s beautiful surroundings. Within an hour’s train or car ride away there are all sorts of trails and natural wonders to see. We recently hiked to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain south of Dublin in Wicklow and were impressed by the panoramic views of the city, farmland, and the Irish sea. We also discovered a cliff walk trail connecting the seaside towns of Bray and Greystones, and one that encircles the Howth peninsula. Both trails are easy, and I highly recommend them to anyone visiting Dublin who wants to see some natural beauty without traveling too far from the city.
Beyond Dublin, we’ve also enjoyed exploring the rest of the island. In the spring we took a trip up north and visited Derry/Londonderry, Giant’s Causeway, and Belfast. In the Republic, we’ve also visited Galway a few times, Cork, and Kilkenny. My favorite trip was seeing the Cliffs of Moher and the area around the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. We’ve visited places that go far back into Irish/Celtic history (Newgrange monument, 3200 BC), the dark ages (Glendalough monastic site, 500s AD), the middle ages (Trim castle, Carrickfergus Castle), and the Renaissance (Rathfarnham Castle). We’ve had an awesome first year living in Ireland and we hope to visit lots more places in the coming year!
If you’re interested in learning more about Ryan’s life and adventures in Ireland, follow his blog, Ireland Living!