Trading Races

Trading Races 2

Moving from the UK to Dublin with my husband and young family in November, I expected a seamless transition into life over here.

I’m fairly well travelled and have lived in various different cities over the last decade or so. My husband is Irish and I was raised by an Irish parent in a corner of London so populated with Irish immigrants it was known as County Kilburn, and I had spent a lot of time in Ireland, and with family in Dublin 4, before we made the decision to move over. As such, I didn’t anticipate any major problems in fitting in, or even that there’d be many discernible differences between our everyday life in the UK and our new one in Dublin.

However, I wasn’t prepared for the ‘It’ll be grand’-ness of it all. Hearing ‘It’ll be grand’ is refreshing and liberating when you’re stressing about some minor detail on a weekend break. Less so when the online shop is delivered several hours late again and, once again, bears very little resemblance to what was ordered. It’s carrots she wants? Ah sure, give her some turnips instead, it’s all the same thing. It’ll be grand.
Potatoes are evangelized here as some form of health food, three kinds served with every meal-mash, roast and chips usually, but occasionally your meal is garnished with a couple of waffles too.

Sorry to stick with cliches, but the weather really is something. For the first three months of living here, I thought I was the only stay at home mum in Dublin. I pounded the streets, got rained on in parks and loitered in toy shops, all in a vain quest to find other women with buggies. I now realise that they were all sequestered indoors, shielding themselves and their babies from the elements, and are only just starting to emerge from hibernation as Spring makes its appearance. And before any of you try to say that the weather in London isn’t much different, let me just assure you that it is. Whilst not exactly boasting a Caribbean climate, London’s weather pattern doesn’t alter 27 times over the course of a day so you can at least get dressed in the morning and be reasonably confident that your attire will be weather appropriate for the next nine hours. Not so here, where my handbag has grown to epic proportions to accommodate the extra waterproofs, tops, trousers, socks, wellies, umbrellas, scarves, sunglasses and rain hats that I and the kids might need to avail of upon a changing hourly basis.

Then there are the thank you cards. For everything from a generous and thoughtful birthday gift to a packet of Smarties lobbed at my kids by a vaguely familiar biddy in the street. It took a while for me to work out why the greetings cards we’d receive often had the sender’s address scribbled into the top left hand corner, or why I’d have a random address texted to me after receiving said packet of Smarties, but I’ve since been enlightened. I like the mannerly principle of it, but not the time it takes, and so I don’t send them. I’ve probably caused offence far and wide. Ah well, they’ll be grand.

Being told ‘That’s great value’. A lot. Particularly when something isn’t. I don’t know whether it’s Celtic Tiger that’s genuinely warped any sense of financial reality or whether it’s an insecure and burning desire to be seen as loaded but, just so you know, €200 for dinner a deux is never great value. €300 for a pair of boots is never great value (even more so when the label the shop has tried desperately to hide says £150). These are treats and extravagances you’re perfectly entitled to have and enjoy, but they’re never ‘great value’.

Then there is the perfect marriage of traditional and modern Ireland. Today’s Irish Mammy might still be preoccupied with who’s shuffled off their mortal coil in the last 15 minutes, but she no longer relies upon the newspaper obituaries of yesteryear. Instead, she can log onto the World Wide Web and ensure she’s fully apprised of any morbid happenings in the vicinity.

I am grateful that we do still have much in common. The English and Irish definitely share the same begrudgery of positivity and success, and universal delight at spectacular downfall – the numbers of us tuning into the first round of X Factor auditions, or pondering ‘who do they think they are?’ at some chirpy young upstart tells us this alone. The sizeable crowds spilling out of Dublin and London pubs on wet Wednesday evenings show our determination to keep our social lives going, whatever the media tells us about how broke we are. Our sustained, or even increased, travel spend on both sides of the water demonstrates the same.

However, it’s the many little differences that’s preventing me from feeling fully settled at this stage and it’ll be in finding ways to accept those that really annoy me, such as paying for kids’ healthcare, and embracing those I’m loving, such as the strong sense of community right here in the capital’s city centre, that I will learn to settle in.

It’s early days after all isn’t it. Couple more months and it’ll be grand.

By Trish Ryan