So where’s the talk of egos and snakes? What about New York?
In America, you’re taught to, or at some point realize you have to make yourself look better and exaggerate your qualities, maybe even just invent some, to get ahead or even just get. Everyone wants to be famous, in charge, or rich. People seem to have to “keep up with the Jones'” It’s all about who you know… Not everyone is fake, but there seem to be many more masks here. It’s not all bad like that, but there’s also a kind of code that people stick to socially to be polite, and it’s not always needed, sometimes a little honesty here and there would be refreshing. In Ireland, people seem to be much more blunt and plain spoken. They’ll tease you even if they don’t know you well, just let ’em in the door a little bit. Some cultures might think some of the things they say are insulting or rude, it’s hard to explain because they aren’t rude or anything, it’s just a more straightforward and familiar way of interacting. Getting back to the population and size differences.. New York alone, as I said in the previous post, is 19.75 million, give or take 750,000 illegal immigrants or so. Ireland’s total population is around 4.6 million as of 2013. And the landmass. Ireland is 35,595 square miles, or 84,431 square Km to the rest of the world. The state of New York is 54,556 sq mi, 141,299 sq km. You could imagine how hard it would be to get lost in Ireland, and in small town Clonmel, everyone knows everyone. It’s not just the sheer size, but Irish people are nosy, and talkative. Loads of innocent gossip around the tea kettle. I am actually excited for this in a way… No, i’m not insane, I’m a man who wants to start a small business. I want to tell the ladies in town something and have it reach across the continent by the end of Mass! If you go to the pubs, people are actually talking to one another, in the US, it’s not as much a thing, people go and have a drink or two, yes, but strangers rarely get past some small talk before either continuing watching the game in silence, or talking to the bartender whenever they come over. Not only that, but the audience is much smaller and less diverse here. After work hours in Ireland, you’ll see everyone from 25-80 years old, give or take, strolling to their respective pubs. You overhear conversations of all types, any day of the week. It’s also acceptable to have business conversation, and to talk about work at the pubs.
To segue into the next section, Check your ego at the door… You don’t want to be puffing yourself up, or exercising your ego there… It’s going to make them suspicious if anything. You want to be honest about what you can and can’t do. Don’t brag and boast. Some well known people that I know from my industry really enjoy Ireland because they can go out to a pub and not be swamped by people taking selfies with them, or bothering them constantly. The people around them may quietly say to their friend: “Hey, it’s your wan over there.” or ” look at him/herself over there” but it’s pretty rare they are approached or swamped by anyone. The president can be seen driving his own car, without security, to mass in some small town. Peope arn’t impressed as much with who you are or your status (except in some circumstances in Dublin, D4 type areas maybe) I have nothing against the area, or anything, but ALL of the people i’ve met and the stories I’ve heard, have all been sickeningly haughty and nose stuck up in the air, rude types. I don’t enjoy anyone who looks down on others for any reason, let alone because they are “culchies” (people from rural Ireland, or rather, anyone not from Dublin) or because they are foreign, are of a certain service industry profession, etc… I’m sorry, but I’ve not been proven wrong to date, i’m sure there are many wonderful people from Dublin south, but….there ya go. Make up your own minds. I’d rather go to a smaller town where people will go out of their way to help you or to say hi, be friendly. This leads into a difference in cultures that seems contradictory though. People in Ireland seem to be less likely to be inviting you over to their house for dinner or a movie night or something. Family is family, and friends are friends, the line is distinct. In the US, you can become part of the family with someone else’s family if you are a good friend for a while, but even if it’s not that case, people would be inviting you over if you are friends with them, it’s just what you do. It can seem almost rude or suspicious if you’re coming from a place like the Hudson Valley New York.
I was thinking about adopting my friend’s Albino python as a pet when they asked if I would take it, I told them: “I don’t think Saint Patrick would like that very much!” As a rule, I generally avoid talking about religion, politics, abortion, or sports with anyone, ever. Now with the move, I’m more sure than ever about the first three. Religion especially is a hot button issue there, and people are generally classed in two categories: Protestants and Catholics. People glean a lot just from your last name or where you went to church or school in Ireland. Judgement is made, and comments are sometimes made.
Don’t ever call the Irish, British, or refer to anything related to Ireland “British” Just don’t go anywhere near that with a ten foot pole! It’s not part of the UK, it’s not, Ireland has been a free state since 1922 after the Irish War of Independence ended when they sent those damn black and tans a packin’ and Dáil Éireann declared independence from Britain. Of course there are influences from the over 900 years of occupation, damn Normans…but it’s a vibrant, unique, and independent culture.
One of the biggest changes for me is a silly one… restaurants! They don’t tip! who the hell doesn’t tip!? The Irish don’t.. They say it’s fine because they earn a regular wage, but i’m sorry, Millions of Americans make ends meet by providing a great dining experience to even more millions of Americans. Waiters and Waitresses can work a weekend and a night or two maybe and pay their way through college, or support themselves and a kid very comfortably, and then some if they have a job at a good restaurant or bar. Bartenders can make a lot of money here! In return, the customers get a great, attentive dining experience that has extra effort put in to make their experience very enjoyable. It’s supposed to be pleasant, friendly, and everything is supposed to be done, completely taken care of. It depends on the type of establishment of course, and the people, and there are distinct levels in the type of restaurant. It’s hard to really hit the nail on the head when explaining the Irish dining experience, because it’s not bad at all. There is a decent cornucopia of food there in this new global world. You can find food of all types, though it’s not nearly as diverse as other countries, it will hold it’s own. I had some amazing food in Ireland each time I’ve gone. The feel is completely different though, it’s not as welcoming or comfortable. The seating arrangements and spaces are less intimate and more utilitarian and open. The waitstaff does the minimum job required and is very standoffish. You won’t find them often or easily if you need something, or have an issue (I never do have an issue, but sometimes you just want a little something else, or a side of sauce or something like that… It’s not as friendly an atmosphere, yet, it’s nice in the way that it’s more focused on whoever you might be with that much more. Overall it’s a laid back atmosphere. I still feel like a complete (insert expletive of your choice here) every single time I leave a dinner without tipping. It won’t change. If they have a tip jar on the counter in a tea/bakery shop I get excited and feel very relieved! Not all is lost! If I could get by on caramel squares and tea, I’d just eat at those places.
By the by..Caramel squares are amazing.
and those Neopolitan/cake/iced flaky things they sell in all the markets
and The Knot Irish whiskey
and chips drenched in salt and vinegar, maybe garlic sauce.
I am going to eventually open up a New York style pizza / Zeppole shop I think, because the pizza is not pizza. “All the Italians came over with great recipes and started making Battered sausages and chips.” There’s always good drunk food around!
So I think I’ll continue on with my lists of things to get used to next. Stay tuned for all the new fees to pay, the home stuff, and more.