After living out of Ireland for a few years, coming back to Dublin from Australia was a bit of a reverse culture shock.
GAA bars, Guinness signs and Irish-Italian chippers on every corner takes some getting used to, but I have fully embraced being back in the land where Barry’s tea is available on tap and the bus driver will (usually) give you a cheery hello as you climb aboard.
That said, there are a few things I had forgotten about my native soil that hit me smack in the face within 24 hours of returning…
The cyclists here are downright crazy
I’ve never seen anything like the wanton disregard for personal safety you see on the streets of Dublin as cyclists weave in and out of cars, overtake buses on the inside and routinely power thorough red lights. And what is the story with no-one wearing helmets? If this was any other city, you’d be slapped with a $280 fine.
Our butter is a nectar sent from heaven
Irish butter is better, fact. Fill me with your glorious buttered goods.
We can't take compliments for the life of us
We're a nation of abashed deflectors and every time sometime gives us a compliment, we refuse to accept it. The following happens at every single social occasion, every single day, in Ireland.
Friend: "Ooooh, I like your dress! Is it new?"
Me: "WHAT? €4 in Penney's, sure it makes me look like the back end of a bus. The STAAAAATE of me."
(Me, internally: "Awwwh thanks, I love this dress too!”)
Our youths are immune to the cold
A skirt, bare legs and a crop top… in January? What is this madness, teenage girls of Dublin? There is no physical way you’re not absolutely frozen – but I applaud your commitment to getting the legs out, come hail, rain or Storm Jonas.
You're never more than 100 feet from someone eating a Spar chicken roll
Hot delis are everywhere. Honestly. Ireland has an abundance of places selling jambons and sausage rolls, a strangely comforting fact.
Meal deals are the life-giver
The noble meal deal just doesn’t exist outside of Ireland (and the UK). Tesco, Boots, Centra, M&S – the options for you to get a sambo, snack and drink are endless. Australia desperately needs to catch up on this one – sometimes you just need a quick chicken and stuffing sandwich to tide you over.
Taxi drivers here are all about the chat
Taxi drivers outside of Ireland have a tendency to not engage with their customers and you could end up going on your airport run in total silence – or worse, listening to your driver yabber on the phone to their pals. Not in Dublin – here you’re treated to stories of children applying for the CAO, thoughts on local politics and my personal favourite – “last night, I picked up a fella who…”
The tram system here is laughable
What even is the Luas? Want to get from Heuston to Sandyford? Hahahaha.. GOOD LUCK. That 10km journey will take you a solid hour on public transport, not forgetting you’d have a nice 20 minute walk to get from Abbey Street to St. Stephen’s Green. As for the buses… Oh dear, oh dear.
On a more sombre note…. Homelessness is a major problem
One of the things that shocked me most when I came back to Dublin was the astonishing number of homeless people out on the streets. Regardless of how or why they’re there, it’s awful to think of someone spending their night in the freezing cold shadow of the Central Bank. If you’re interested in getting involved with a homeless charity in Dublin, click here for Dublin Simon Community or here for Merchants Quay Ireland.