Before arriving to Ireland, we had heard of a few clichés: luxurious green fields, sheep everywhere, lots of redheads…
…but there were many things we didn’t really expect, and had a few – good and bad – surprises during our stay.
Here are some things that caught us, two French interns, off-guard in Cork and Ireland.
- Fáilte go hÉirinn
Oh, the Gaelic culture… It’s everywhere, from road signs to TV programmes.
It’s one of the first interesting facts to notice for a foreigner when they arrive in Ireland: all the road signs indicate the names in Irish as well as in English.
It can get a little tricky sometimes though: visiting Donegal County by car when you have an English-only map and all the signs are in Irish does add some spice to the journey!
We also discovered the Gaelic sports (Gaelic football, hurling, camogie) that at first seemed absolutely incomprehensible to us, but that we now enjoy watching. Not that we understand them any better, but we do appreciate how varied and entertaining they are!
Same goes with some TV programmes entirely presented in Irish, although, to be completely honest with you, we did forget about them after a short while… maybe one day, when we start learning Irish, we’ll get back to them again.
2. Everyone’s a lovely lad
Now, Ireland wouldn’t be such a fantastic place without the Irish people.
That’s one of the things that make us glad we’ve had an opportunity to live here: everyone’s nice and welcoming.
This surely contrasts with the generally grumpy French attitude, where everyone would rather mind their own business than to talk to strangers.
Here in Cork, people are always happy to help you, have a little chat or share a pint.
One thing we found most surprising was the way the Irish greet each other by asking “How are you doing?”, instead of a simple “Hello”.
We find the Irish most often curious and friendly. They often call you by your first name, even when you don’t really know them – and that’s a very weird thing for a French person, believe us.
All in all, it’s no wonder the Irish football fans got awarded the Medal of Paris during the Euro 2016!
3.Consume with moderation
As French people, we do love wine, but alcohol legislation is quite different here compared to France.
Firstly, alcohol here is much more expensive than in France, especially wine! Maybe it’s because you really want us to try some Guinness; as Joyce once said: ‘Guinness is the wine of Ireland’!
Also here legislation is really strict on selling alcohol. Claire, who is 23, couldn’t buy a bottle of wine in Tesco as they didn’t accept her ID. Imagine how surprised she was, although it is great to still look too young!
It is also really strange for us to see that in some big supermarkets it is not possible to purchase alcohol after a certain hour, this is not something we’re used to in France, where the staff is not very concerned about their clients’ age…
Lastly, there was not one evening that we spent out where we were not asked for our ID before entering a pub. Again, it is a real compliment but it can be a bit annoying for us, as we almost never get checked in France…
Marie Thevenin and Claire Lourdelle