Life in Ireland
Ireland is known as the land of a thousand welcomes and it is true that Irish people are very welcoming and embrace the opportunity of a good ‚Äúchat‚ÄĚ, but our culture too is changing.¬† Ireland is a small country that has re-invented itself over the last forty years through the combined force of sheer determination and growing, vibrant ambition.It is a progressive part of the new Europe and is evolving every day.
Ireland is a dynamic, lively, modern country with a young population and a successful, technologically orientated economy, but it also remains a country where music, conversation, culture, traditions, time to relax, listen and making friends are important.
It is a country with cultural, cosmopolitan cities and is renowned for its beautiful, unspoiled countryside and scenery.
- Political Entities: Republic of Ireland (RoI), formed as the Irish Free State on 6th December 1922 and Northern Ireland (NI), established on 3rd May 1921, which is part of the United Kingdom
- Name: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ireland or Eire (Gaelic) and Northern Ireland
- Nicknames: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Emerald Isle; Land of Saints and Scholars; Land of a Thousand Welcomes
- Population: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 4,8 million (RoI) and 1,8 million (NI)
- Area: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 84,421¬†km2
- Capital Cities: ¬†¬† Dublin (RoI) and Belfast (NI)
- Religion: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Catholic and Protestant plus smaller groups of Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc.
- Currencies: ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Euros (RoI) and British Pounds (NI)
Ireland is split up into four provinces, these being: Leinster; Munster; Connacht and¬†Ulster.
In addition to this, there are thirty-two Counties.¬† Twenty-six of these are in the Republic of Ireland and the remaining six are part of Northern Ireland.
Leinster and Ulster have the largest population, whereas Munster and Ulster cover the largest area.
As per Wikipedia, November 2011¬†
Although Ireland is not a very large country, the geology varies immensely in the different areas of Ireland.¬† From the ‚Äúmountainous and rocky‚ÄĚ landscape in the West, to the lakes and bogs of the Midlands and the arable plains of the East, you will get the opportunity to visit many beautiful sites in Ireland.
Some of these sites remain untouched and it is not uncommon to spot wildlife such as red deer, red fox, mink and badgers or salmon and trout in local streams and rivers.¬† Dingle Harbour, in the West Coast of Ireland has its own dolphin, Fungie, and in Howth, on the East Coast, visitors often stop to feed the seals which swim and bask in the waters around the pier.¬† Ireland also offers whale and dolphin watching trips around West Cork.
The climate of Ireland is that of a Changeable Oceanic one thanks to the moderating moist winds which ordinarily prevail from the South-Western¬†Atlantic.¬† During the winter months temperatures rarely drop below freezing and snow is uncommon. Summer temperatures generally range from 15¬ļC to 20¬ļC. Spring and autumn are generally 10¬ļC. Winter is between 5¬ļC and 8¬ļC. Snow is rare, but showers can occur at any time of the year.What is noticeable in Ireland is the wind.¬† Ensure you bring adequate warm clothes and suitable footwear, as a cold wind on a damp day can be quite chilly!
In 1171 England conquered Ireland and ruled until 1922.¬† Following the Irish war of Independence (1919-1921), Ireland became the Irish Free State (1922 ‚Äď 1937) with the boundary between the Free State and Northern Ireland having been established in December 1925.¬† The British Empire kept Northern Ireland because of the Belfast ship yards and their importance to the British trade.
The Free State was converted into a Sovereign independent democratic state named Eire from 1937 to 1949.¬† On Easter Monday, 18 April 1949, by the terms of the Republic of Ireland Bill approved by the Dail in November 1948, Eire became the Republic of Ireland, formally free of allegiance to the British crown and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Republic became a member of the United Nations on December 14, 1955, when the General Assembly approved the admission of four communist- and twelve non-communist nations.
Ireland is a country steeped in tradition and history with a unique and interesting culture which retains many features of its ancient Celtic origins while also reflecting the influence of other traditions and trends.
Irish People:¬†Irish people have a great love of conversation and have a genuine interest in other people. The friendliness and hospitable nature for which Irish people are renowned makes Ireland a welcoming place.
Family Values:¬†The extended family remains the basis of the social structure. Even when family members emigrate, they retain strong ties to their family and return for regular visits.
Irish Music:¬†A particular feature of Ireland is the tradition of live music in every conceivable venue, from street busking to singing pubs where traditional music continues to flourish.
Ireland has two main spoken languages:
- English (from the conquest of Ireland) is the most commonly used language today and there is a diversity of accents from county to county.
- Gaelic (Irish Language) is native to Ireland and has been around for thousands of years. ¬†The main concentrations of Irish speakers are in the¬†Gaeltachta√≠ areas which are scattered mainly along the West Coast of Ireland and have a total population of 82,715, 76.3% of whom speak Irish on a daily basis.
The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary, representative democratic republic and a member state of the European Union.
While the head of state¬†is the popularly elected¬†President of Ireland, this is a largely ceremonial position with real political power being vested in the indirectly elected¬†Taoiseach¬†(prime minister) who is the head of the¬†government.
While there are a number of political parties in the state, the political landscape has been dominated for decades by¬†FiannaF√°il¬†and Fine Gael, historically opposed and competing entities, both occupying the traditional center ground. From the 1930s until¬†2011 they were the largest and second largest parties respectively. Both parties trace their roots back to the opposing side of the¬†civil war. The¬†Labour Party, historically the state’s third political party has only ever been in power when in coalition with either of the two main parties. In 2011 there was a major political realignment in Ireland, with Fine Gael becoming the largest party, Labour the second, and FiannaF√°il dropping to third following a collapse in support.
In 1533, King Henry XIII of England tried to marry Anne Boleyn. The Roman Catholic Church refused to officiate the ceremony, declaring that Henry was still legally wed to Katherine of Aragon, so the King created his own Protestant Church. Ireland was then ordered to convert to King Henry‚Äôs church, however, most Irish people refused to do so.
In 1549, England‚Äôs Monarchy reverted to its former religion and the newly Protestant Ireland was required to become Catholic once more.
The Harp – For the Irish, the harp is a reminder of the travelling performers who entertained people many years ago.
The Shamrock – The most widely known symbolism was given to the shamrock by St. Patrick who compared the plant‚Äôs tri-part leaves to the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.¬† This day it is instantly recognized as a logo for Irish culture.
The Irish flag –
The Colours of the Irish flag are known as the ‚ÄėTri Colours‚Äô.
- Green represents the Gaelic Irish.
- Orange represents the followers of William of Orange.
- White represents peace between the two.
Ireland has many sports and the Irish are very passionate about them. The most popular include: hurling, Gaelic Football, handball, horse racing, soccer, rugby and golf.
Agriculture in Ireland
Ireland is a largely agricultural country with hundreds of farms and is ranked highly in the world of Equestrian sports.
It has the potential to be the most competitive dairy industry in the Northern Hemisphere. Reports show that there are approximately 1.1 million dairy cows in Ireland. It is believed that milk production can double over the next 10 years, with 20,000 full-time efficient farmers each producing 100,000 gallons. This will bring major benefits to the Irish economy.
Alongside the dairy industry, Ireland is reported to have 5.85mn beef cattle; 8mn sheep and 110,000 sports horses and even more thoroughbred horses (race horses).
The equine industry is well established, with top quality sports horses being bred countrywide and the Irish racing industry receiving global recognition.
Fun facts to know and tell
- Emmett Square in the town of Birr, County Offaly is officially the very center of Ireland.
- A pint of Guinness has 198 calories; less than a pint of skimmed milk or orange juice.
- Central Park in New York, USA, was modeled on St. Stephens Green in Dublin.
- Only 4% of Irish People actually have red hair.
- If all of the dry stone walls in Ireland were to be lined up they would stretch an impressive ¬ľ million miles.
- More than 20 different species of whale visit Irish waters.
- The longest place name in Ireland is a town land in county Galway; Muckanaghederdauhaulia¬†(Irish:¬†Muiceanach idir Dh√° Sh√°ile, meaning “piggery between two briny places”).
- The original Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a¬†9,000 year lease¬†on its property, at a perpetual rate of 45 Irish pounds per year.
- Couples in Ireland could marry legally on St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, as recently as the 1920‚Äôs, by¬†simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could “divorce'” by walking away from each other at the same spot, on St. Brigid‚Äôs day the following year. The custom was a holdover from old Irish Brehon laws, which allowed temporary marriage contracts.
- Bram Stoker was working as a civil servant¬†in Dublin when he wrote ‚ÄúDracula‚ÄĚ in 1897.
- Ireland‚Äôs 15 principal railway stations are¬†named after the leaders of the 1916 uprising.
- About 30% of the people in Australia¬†are of Irish descent.
- The medieval¬†Goidelic¬†festival of Samhain, which originated in Ireland, marked the end of the¬†harvest and the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half‚ÄĚ.¬† This festival is now commonly known worldwide as ‚ÄúHalloween‚ÄĚ.
- The¬†potato¬†would appear to have been introduced into Ireland in the second half of the 16th century.
- Until the 19th Century, some even as late as the 20th Century, the traditional pubs did not allow card games, singing or television, in some rural pubs, women were not welcome either.
Equipeople Au Pairs Practical Information
Travelling to Ireland
Ireland has two main airports Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and Belfast (Northern Ireland) and several smaller airports such as Shannon, Kerry and Cork.¬† Your host family or Equipeole Au Pair Co-ordinator will advise you on what airport is nearest to your placement.¬† In general, most of our Au Pairs fly into Dublin.
Do remember to check baggage restrictions (this will depend on the airline) as well as the EU regulations on liquids in hand luggage.
Ireland operates two major airlines: Aer Lingus and Ryanair.¬† Both offer competitive prices on European flights, however, be sure to check your local airline as well for good deals.
Make sure you bring an ID card or a passport which is valid for the duration of your stay in Ireland.
Our Travel Advisor will provide you with a Travel Advice (TA) outlining how to get to the host family from the airport.¬† We will have given the host family a call to ensure they will be at the bus/train stop when you arrive.¬† Should you miss your bus or train for whatever reason, you must ring your host family (phone number will be on the Travel Advice) and/or Equipeople Au Pairs to let them/us know.
Departure – During the last week of the placements we will contact you with information on how to best return to the airport for the flight home.¬† Please supply Equipeople with the return flight information when providing us with the arrival flight details or as soon as possible.¬† This will guarantee we have adequate time to research the return transport.
Those taking early flights will be advised to stay either in a city hostelor airport hotel which will offer a complimentary airport transfer during the early hours.¬† We will help arrange and book this, but you will pay for it.¬† We do not encourage Au Pairs that are checking-in on early flights to stay in the airport overnight, as this could be dangerous, however some Au Pairs choose this option.
On the conclusion of a placement, we can supply each Au Pair with a letter or Equipeople certificate as proof of completion of their time here in Ireland.
We will contact you regularly during your stay in Ireland to check that you are happy but please contact us if you have any problems whatsoever.
You will be living with the host family in their family home.¬† In some placements there may be separate accommodation for you, but this will never be far from the home.¬† An Au Pair will have all her meals with the family and will be invited to participate in family occasions and traditions.
Please remember to respect your host family.¬† You are, after all, a ‚Äúguest‚ÄĚ in the host family‚Äôs home, even though you will not be treated in this manner.¬† The family may have house rules and it is important that you respect these.
Family values are extremely important to the Irish.¬† Not so long ago, it was not uncommon to have eight or more children and for the grandparents to be living in the same house as well.¬† These days there are usually two or three children in a family and the grandparents might still live nearby and often visit their children and grandchildren.
Throughout rural Ireland, houses are scattered across the countryside and the nearest neighbour may be a mile away.¬† Communities are a tight knit group of friends and family members who are involved in each other‚Äôs activities and affairs and can be trusted to look out for one another.¬† Youwill be immersed into these families‚Äô and communities‚Äô daily lives.¬† You will spend time with the children, be able to sit down and talk about old Ireland with Granddad and have a pint (if you are over 18) with the natives in the local (pub).¬† You are likely to meet brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and a few of the many cousins.
Every town and village in Ireland has a pub where you can find traditional Irish music being played.¬† It fills the air and the atmosphere swells with the sound of clapping, laughter and people having ‚Äėthe Craic‚Äô ‚Äď fun!¬† The pub culture in Ireland is not based around just the ‚Äúpint‚ÄĚ; it is also a place where friends, neighbours and family gather to catch up on the local gossip.¬† More than often a sport‚Äôs game or horse race will be on the TV, the children will be running around together and a very competitive game of darts or pool will be taking place in the corner.
Meals are a time for the family to get together and talk about their day.¬† They will discuss what has been happening on the farm or at work, what the children did in school, whether a neighbour called over for tea and to discuss what will happen the next day.¬† Au Pairs are included in mealtimes and we suggest you do so as it will help you integrate in the family.
Breakfast will probably be on a self-service basis whilst everyone gets ready for the busy day ahead.¬† The main meal will either be served at lunchtime or in the evening time.¬† This varies from family to family and usually depends on whether the ‚Äúmum‚ÄĚ is at home during the day.¬† Traditional Irish dinners usually consist of vegetables, meat and potatoes.¬† The lighter meal will probably entail soup and a sandwich or perhaps a salad in the summer.
An Au Pair should get involved in helping to prepare the meal (or at least offer to do so) and clearing up afterwards.¬† You become an integral part of the family unit, helping out with the same household chores as any other member of the family; you become an adopted daughter for the duration of your stay.
Sports are an integral part of Irish rural families.¬† Team pride is a very strong element of each community.¬† You could find yourself attending local matches, supporting the local GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) teams and maybe even joining in whilst you are here.¬† Joining in on the local club‚Äôs training session is a great way for sporty and active Au Pairs to meet a group of local youngsters with the same interests as them.¬† It also helps create a social life with people your own age away from the host family.
Macra na Feirme is an organisation for young people between the ages of 17 and 35 who are interested in meeting new people and getting involved in sports, travel, drama, debating, or just want to meet new people and have some fun! To be a member of Macra, you must join a Macra club in your area. This will open the door to new friends and new activities. There are hundreds of clubs across Ireland bursting with activities who always welcome a new face. For more information look at www.macra.ie.
Many Irish rural families still attend mass on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings.¬† In Ireland mass lasts half an hour.¬† You are more than welcome to go to the church with the family, but there will be no criticism if you choose not to do so.
Adaptation to the environment
You are likely to experience some form of homesickness, whether it is tears in your eyes the moment you set foot on Irish soil or whether you are just quiet for the first few days, it happens to everyone to some degree.
The most important thing to remember is that it will pass.¬† Usually after the first week (in some cases it may take two), most of our Au Pairs realise that it is not the end of the world and they start enjoying their work experience.
Top tips to help you overcome the cultural shock are:
- Go with an open mind ‚Äď of course life will be different, that is the whole point of an exchange.
- Don‚Äôt criticise ‚Äďwhat works for you may not work in Ireland.¬† Remember this is your host family‚Äôs life, openly putting them down won‚Äôt gain you much respect.
- Get involved ‚Äď don‚Äôt hide away in your room, it will be a lonely place.¬† Why not try a new sport or get involved in a local activity.
- Get your mind out of your home country and into Ireland – we understand you will be missing your parents, friends, family, pets ‚Ä¶ but if this is all you think about, you will get very sad.¬† Though we understand the importance of staying in touch, don‚Äôt spend every night talking on the phone or on Skype for hours on end to your parents/family/friends ‚Äď you are not helping yourself by isolating yourself.
- Communicate ‚Äď talk to your host or ring Equipeople about anything that is bothering you.¬† There is no point worrying in silence when the matter can be resolved. We cannot help if we don‚Äôt know there is a problem!
- Ask questions ‚Äď learn about Irish culture, farming, family life or whatever interests you, this is your opportunity to get ‚Äúinsider‚Äôs information‚ÄĚ on Ireland.
Staying in touch
If you wish to use your mobile phone in Ireland, ensure you have it unblocked or set to roaming prior to your arrival.¬† Do realise that the price of using your mobile in Ireland for phone calls or internet usage could cost you a lot of money.¬† Many of our Au Pairs opt to buy a ‚Äúpay as you go‚ÄĚ Irish SIM card, or simply use Skype.
Almost all our host families have an internet connection or Wifi and there is no problem for you to bring their own laptop.¬† It is best to check with the family before you come over to avoid disappointment.¬† A lot of the internet packages in Ireland have download limits.¬† Check with your family before downloading the latest movies or music ‚Äď your family might ask you to pay for any additional charges they incur and that could cost a lot of money!¬† Alternatively you can purchase a ‚ÄúPay as You Go‚ÄĚ Internet Dongle from most mobile phone shops or large department stores.
If you use the host family‚Äôs phone, it is common courtesy to offer to pay for the calls you make.
We strongly urge you not to spend the entire time on the phone or internet as you will become very isolated from the family and will not make the most of your time here in Ireland.
What Not to Forget
- An adaptor for Irish/UK plugs
- Rain-proof clothing and suitable footwear
- Euros and/or Pounds
- Travel Health Insurance / European Medical Card
- Warm clothes
- Dictionary / Phrase book
- Driver‚Äôs License (if relevant)
- Every day clothes and one smart outfit
Working at the Placement
Duties vary according to the family.¬† Your Equipeople Au Pair Co-ordinator will have supplied you with a copy of the ‚ÄúPlacement Advice‚ÄĚ.¬† This document outlines the duties which you will be involved with whilst working in Ireland.¬† Please make sure you understand what is expected of you and don‚Äôt be afraid to ask questions before coming to Ireland if you are unsure about anything.
Due to the nature of Au pair work, it is important you realise that although the routine will be pretty much set for the day, things happen, especially when working with children and tasks may vary from time to time.¬† You need to be flexible and most importantly, you must be willing to try!
A positive attitude is a must for Irish work experiences.¬† An Au Pair that shows initiative and interest in her work will gain more respect from the host family, leading to increased responsibility, trust and ultimately, job satisfaction.
You are expected to work 35 – 40 hours per week over five and a half days, with one full day and one half day off each week.¬† Some host families allow Au Pairs to work these hours over five days, giving them two full days off each week. This depends on the type of placement, the time of the year and the individual host family; we suggest you find out what is expected from you upon arrival.
You must get a total of eight days off every month, so if you are not getting two full days off per week, you need to get additional days off.¬† In addition to weekly days off, you are also due to get one week paid holidayevery six months.
In return for your work, you need to have your own bedroom, all the meals and ‚ā¨100 pocket money per week.
During the Placement
A member of the Equipeople team will contact the host family to make sure you have arrived safely.¬† In addition to the ‚Äúinitial call‚ÄĚ, a follow-up call will be made at a regular basis to monitor your progress.
We deal with any problems promptly and we will also visit you during your time in Ireland.¬† If you don‚Äôt let us know that something is wrong ‚Äď we cannot help you!¬† Be open and honest and don‚Äôt worry about things in silence.
Days off ‚Äď Visiting Ireland
Of course it would be a great shame for you to come to Ireland and not to see any of the country.¬† Ireland boasts many beautiful sights and plenty of historical and cultural outings or city trips, but you will not be able to visit everything.
Upon arrival in Ireland, you will receive a Welcome Pack.¬† This pack contains information on life in Ireland, what to see and what to visit in the area, helpful tourist information as well as a Contact List.
The Contact List will hold all the names and contact numbers of all students and Au Pairs that are in Ireland at the time that you are.¬† It also notes the nationalities of these students and Au Pairs as well as the area of Ireland in which they are placed.¬† We actively encourage you to get in touch with each other ‚Äď many new friendships have been formed over the years.¬† Why not get together and have some fun as a group!
Keep an eye on the Equipeople Au Pairs¬†Facebook page to keep up to date on what is happening!
Quirky Irish Customs
Look out for these quirky traits whilst you are in Ireland ‚Ä¶
- In the country it is common for drivers to salute each other by raising the index finger off the steering wheel, when passing each other in the street, even though they might not even know each other.
- Irish people will talk to anybody and ask a lot of questions ‚Äď it is quite common to walk away from a conversation with them knowing everything about you and you never even having asked their name.
- In the pub, it is common practice to go into ‚Äúrounds‚ÄĚ, meaning that everybody buys everybody a drink in turns.¬† It is considered very rude to join in on the round and not to pay for one yourself.
- When in conversation Irish people swear a lot.¬† They do not mean anything by it; it is simply a way of expressing themselves.
- Somehow, no matter what country they find themselves in, the Irish will always find a fellow Irish person they know, who knows them or knows someone who knows them!
- Ireland was never incorporated into the Roman Empire; there is a relative lack of Roman influence in Ireland.¬† The Vikings however, did settle in Ireland and established the marine ports around Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.
- When looking at old farm houses, the more manor-like, square, two-story houses were probably built by the English when they occupied Ireland.¬† The Irish farmers tended to build small bungalows.
- It is quite common for acquaintances to pull up beside each other in the car whilst blocking the entire road for a ‚Äúchat‚ÄĚ even though there may be people behind them trying to get by.
- Due to the large families that Irish farmers used to have with few of them moving very far from the ‚Äúhome place‚ÄĚ, it is quite possible that within the community many of the villagers are related to each other.
- In the rural parts of the Republic of Ireland we do not have any street names, house numbers or postcodes.¬† Remarkable how the postman knows exactly what mail belongs to each person.¬† Especially when a father and a son with the same first name (and surname obviously) have built houses beside one another.
Seeking out Interests and Hobbies in Ireland
It will not be possible for you to see the whole of Ireland whilst you are here; however, it is worthwhile finding out what would be of interest to you before you travel.¬† This is also a great way to help you settle in and get over the homesickness ‚Äď having something to look forward to will help take your mind off the initial apprehension of taking part in the experience.
Some of our ideas ‚Ä¶
- Are you passionate about music?¬† Why not find out if Ireland is hosting a music festival or when the ‚Äútrad session‚ÄĚ (traditional Irish music) is on in the local pub.
- Do you enjoy landscapes and gardens?¬† You would probably enjoy a trip to the Botanical Gardens in Dublin or the Japanese Gardens in Kildare.
- Are you a horsy girl?¬† Go and soak up the atmosphere at a local hunt (winter only) or down at the races.¬† Why not visit the Irish National Stud and horse museum?
- Agricultural students should keep an eye out for local country fairs or vintage tractor runs.
- Wildlife and sea life fanatics could easily spend a day whale watching in West Cork, seal spotting in Howth or fly fishing in the many lakes and rivers of Ireland.
- Nature lovers should take a look at the National Parks and beautiful sights Ireland has to offer.
There are plenty of things going on in Ireland.¬† You just need to know about them!
Try the following websites:
- www.discoverireland.ie (Ireland‚Äôs tourist website)
- www.dayout.ie (Ideas for a day out in Ireland)
- www.ticketmaster.ie (Concerts and theatre events and tickets)
- www.npws.ie (National Parks/Wildlife/Nature Ireland)
- www.goireland.com (Accommodation in Ireland)
- www.hostels-ireland.com (Hostels in Ireland)
Of course you will receive a welcome pack containing information about what to do and where to visit upon your arrival.¬† But there is no harm in awakening the flame before you arrive!
For more information contact Equipeople Au Pairs
Ireland is a safe country here are some excellent tips:
Some Hints on Possible and Perceived Dangers
By¬†Bernd Biege, About.com Guide
Travelling in Ireland is not dangerous as such – millions of tourists visit the country every year without coming to harm whatsoever. Still it is a wise precaution to be a safety-conscious traveller. Here are some hints to make your stay as safe as possible.
Pickpockets and Bag-snatchers
The greatest danger looms from opportunistic thieves who use bustling crowds as a cover to pick your pockets or simply snatch your bag. Just take the usual precautions to wear your valuables as close and as inaccessible as possible (and sensible) to your body. If you are carrying a bag with a strap wear the strap across your body. And if you place your bag under the table in a restaurant or caf√© simply fasten the strap to a chair or your leg. And never leave your valuables unattended, not even in the hotel or in the car.
More drastic criminals will stop you in the street and demand money and/or valuables. The best precaution here is to avoid lonely streets out of hours, even if it means a detour or a taxi ride and not to show your wealth too much (even though it might be argued that anybody is considered wealthy by the disenfranchised). If you are, however, faced with a robbery the best reaction is to comply with demands unless you can safely call attention to your plight. Fighting back is definitely not recommended as violent crime may well arise out of this.
The good news: Gun crime is relatively rare in Ireland and mostly related to gang or family feuds. The bad news: Resistance to robberies and any reaction to verbal insults can quickly lead to violent behaviour. Weapons of choice are fists, boots and (in an alarming quantity) knives. Try to avoid any confrontation and back off from any person who seems aggravated. Try to stay calm, cool and collected and do not offer resistance. And again try to avoid being an obvious target – a lonely stranger in a deserted area, especially at night.
Sexual assault and rape are a problem especially in the larger towns and cities and normal precautions should be taken – avoiding deserted areas at night being high on the list. You might also want to check our section on¬†safety tips for women traveling in Ireland.
Homophobic and Racist Hate Crime
Virtually unknown in rural areas and on the rise in cities and towns, homophobic crimes are commonly known as “gay bashing” and tend to happen spontaneously in the vicinity of known (or suspected) gay hangouts. Again normal precautions should be taken. Racist hate crimes are mostly confined to larger urban areas and can be spontaneous or planned. Most victims are non-Caucasian and again usual precautions should be considered.
Since the late 1990s the threat of terrorism by republican or loyalist paramilitaries has severely declined, though some republican dissidents tend to undermine the peace process. International terrorism has so far ignored Ireland – but the involvement of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the use of Irish airports by US military flights means that a certain risk remains. On the other hand Irish authorities are historically well prepared for any terrorist incidents and effective prevention measures are permanently in place.
“Smash and grab” attacks on tourist vehicles are a definite risk at all attractions and possible anywhere. Most of these are crimes of opportunity. The best prevention is simply not to leave any bags or valuables in plain sight – lock them into the boot, even when only leaving the car for a few minutes. Car theft and vandalism happen mostly when vehicles are parked conveniently. Prevention should start with using off-street supervised parking and securely locking cars at any time.
A new phenomenon in Ireland and still very rare.Locking your car doors when driving in urban areas is advised as a precaution.
Obviously tents are not safe – do never leave valuables in them when you are away, not even at a regular camping site. Bear in mind that camping without the landowner’s explicit permission is illegal and might lead to high fines.
Credit Card Fraud
Unfortunately¬†credit card fraud is on the rise in Ireland, it pays to keep the PIN well safe and to keep the card within eyesight when paying. Also beware of suspicious activity at and around ATMs, this might indicate “skimming” of blatant theft.
While some attempts at blatant overcharging (even by local authorities) may be classified as “scams”, real scams targeting tourists are relatively rare. As always the advice¬†caveat emptor(Let the buyer beware)applies – if you are for instance offered a local lottery ticket in the pub, how likely will it be that you actually can claim your prize?
In an Emergency …
… contact the authorities at once. Also get in touch with the tourist support services offered by the embassies. Your first point of contact should be the Garda√≠ or the PSNI, both can be reached from any phone by dialling 112 or 999. I have also put together a comprehensive¬†list of Irish emergency phone numbers¬†you might want to print out.