So……we moved…to Ireland! It’s kind of a big move and one we’ve been talking about for a couple of years, or at least since we last visited. There’s a lot of catch up to do. Since the 14th of August when we landed in Dublin we managed to get me a stamp 4 visa, got the whole family their PPS numbers (Irish SSN), my GNIB card making me legal to work, find a place to live (not easy), get the kids in school (with some family help), get a car (Opel Astra baby), get insurance (expensive unless you have an Irish license, more on that later), sitting in around town (I’m still job hunting though) & get Bridget a job cooking nearby.
So, where’s around town? We realized how fickle money really is. Dublin may be a great town but we were hemorrhaging euros just getting around it. We went there to get some official paperwork done early on only to find we didn’t need to be there at all. So we took a bus to Galway to see Bridget’s family and that’s where we realized that life is doable. Galway is the music hub of the country, sounds good to me I said. We made a decision to stick to it here and get into the scene. All we needed was a place to live so we could get out of the hotel rat race. There are things you think would be relatively simple, especially after dealing with immigration paperwork. Finding a place wasn’t one of those things. Galway at the end of August is bloated with eager, worried students looking for ANY place to sleep. The local landlords in town want to support the students in their endeavors. They also like professionals who don’t make much noise and don’t have kids that break things. After two dozen denials we started to look outside the center of town in the villages. We hit pay dirt with a place in Spiddal with a view of the ocean and a medieval church.
Spiddal is about 9 miles away from town. At the rate things go here that’s about 15 minutes; not bad!! The fact that Bridget has some terrific family here makes life even that much nicer. Her cousins helped us selflessly to look at places & get appointments to enroll Finn / Nola into school. The schools are all in Irish. They’ll be talking behind my back before they’re 5 and I won’t know any better. So I practice.
There will be more to come about all this. In case you wonder why we did this well, there are a lot of reasons. First off, we were never beach people so some weather is fine with us. Things grow in rain and it rarely if ever turns to snow here, ever. The coldest it will probably get is 40f (summers can hit the low 70s with the sun setting at 1130 at night!). Another reason is this : we both did not want our kids to have to learn what to do in school when someone with a gun comes in and starts shooting. It’s amazing how surreal the gun conversation looks from outside the States. The police in Ireland do not carry guns and nobody I can think of wants them anywhere around. Since the issue seems never to be resolved and we had a choice on whether or not to expose the kids to that sort of thing we opted to go where the guns aren’t. The country also takes care of its citizens if they’re having some trouble getting on. There are allowances for kids, housing, education & job seeking that are available to people who need them. There are conditions. For instance : if you get a job seekers allowance and the government office is able to find you a job you’re able to do then you have to take the job otherwise you lose the right to the benefit. There are aggressive screening processes for all of this (as they should be) and Everest paper mountains to boot but it’s not like you’re going to be in the street while you’re looking to become useful. Most importantly we came because Ireland has one of the top education systems in the world at all levels. I’m pleased as punch that Finn & Nola will have the opportunities to think in two languages, learn critical thinking, to know, see & touch thousand year old history.