Dingle, Ireland Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland 02/22/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

8 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Irish parents and spouse. He is from Cork and I am from Clare but we like Dingle.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From Boston or Newark, it is about 5.5 hours plus drive time - Shannon to Dingle is 2.5 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Cottages, flats(apts), semi-detached which means duplex in the States, and row housing. Almost all rented accommodation comes completely furnished. That means dishes, cutlery, sometimes even pictures on the walls. The only things you usually need to own if you are renting are, linen, towels and duvets and pillows. If you are commuting to Tralee, it takes about 50 minutes and Killarney about an hour. The rest of the village is walkable for working in Dingle. The outlying areas (called back West by the locals) can take from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on where you live, to get to Dingle.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries were really high compared to other villages, but then we got Liddl! What a savings!! We shop for about 75 Euro per week for 2 of us and we eat well and get 2 bottles wine. It has made all the difference to our budget.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Real green chili from New Mexico and Margarita mix. You can't find it anyplace. Not even in the English Market in Cork. I am looking into having some tins of chili shipped over, but shipping anything is very costly. Keep that in mind when you buy Christmas or birthday presents you need to mail. I have spent twice the cost of gifts on postage. As far as anything else, you can buy large fridges, washers, dryers, and the like at any of the home supply stores and they aren't going to be as much as buying and shipping one. It used to be cheaper and the availability of large size was almost impossible, but the Celtic tiger caught us up on those type of indulgences.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are 2 chippers that would be locally owned and the food at both is typical. Overpriced and full of fried foods. We have one Subway for a healthier choice and no other chain places. The fine dining choices are extensive in the summer and quite expensive with your average meal costing 18 to 32 Euro for the entree or about the same for some of the set meals. Pub food is a better option if you are on a budget, but want to eat out. There are a few places, particularly Murphy's or John Benny's that serve a really good feed for about 9 to 12 Euro. There are 2 Chinese and 2 Indian places. Tir Na Ri, the Chinese on Green St., is excellent. Prices are around 9 Euro for a good size meal. The fresh fish here is fabulous and there is "Harringtons" for about 12 per plate of fish and chips or "Out of the Blue" for an expensive but memorable dinner out in the summer.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The local post office is in the village on Main Street. It takes about a week to ten days to send something to the States, depending on where it's going. Our mail is dropped through the door and our mail carrier is really nice. Receiving things takes about the same, add a week or even two at the holidays. There is no mail delivery on the weekends, but the post office is open for the morning on Saturdays. We receive ScreenClick DVDs (like Netflix) by post, and that is not as fast as if we were in a larger area. Add a day each way.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I don't know anybody who has any. The one lady I know that cleans house for people charges 10 Euro an hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are 2 facilities available. I belong to the Leisure Centre (also houses the bowling alley, casino and kids arcade) in town. It has a lovely pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and a nicely fitted exercise and weight room. The equipment is well maintained and the place is clean. It is a little pricey (420 Euro for a couple for 6 months), but worth belonging because we have an enormous amount of rain days where you wouldn't want to be out walking for exercise. It is quiet most days and makes you feel very pampered.

The other place is the Skellig Hotel and it is about 40 Euro cheaper and just about a third of a mile out of town. The pool facilities are larger, but it is used by the hotel guests and lots of families with kids, so its more crowded. The weight and equipment area is larger as well, but looking shabby and slightly unkempt. There was also a weight lifting room over on the pier but I don't know if that's still open.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most shops take credit and laser cards. Liddl only takes laser and not credit cards. There are 3 ATMs, which is plenty for a small village (we are only about 2000 people). We have 2 banks and a credit union.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Mass is in English and in Irish. The Protestant church is in English and I don't know if they offer Irish. I doubt it. There are only the 2 churches here. For other religious services you need to go to Tralee or Killarney.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. There are a variety of daily newspapers and still quite popular to read the Sunday papers at home or in the pub. There are two providers of television besides the 3 channels you receive with a small antennae. Chorus and Sky are both available. We pay 26 Euro per month for a decent package of English language channels. You have the availability of Irish, Welsh, Nigerian, Russian, Chinese, and Indian television stations included as well.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is spoken everywhere. Irish is required as a class in school. It is a fairly difficult language but it is very rewarding to learn. Certain areas like Dingle are Irish speaking and you would hear it and see the road signs in Irish. You can get by without it, but why live here in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area)and not learn.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Numerous difficulties. This is not wheelchair friendly at all. The footpaths are too narrow and dilapidated and the streets are all on hills. The buildings are ancient, so there are very few places that have adaptations for handicap accessibility. That said, the handicapped are treated very respectfully. Three of the hotels have amenities and there is much improvement.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are quite a number of local taxis which are very friendly and reliable. They are all the same basic regulated rates and usually you end up using the driver you like most. There is no train service on the peninsula but we do have a bus that is reasonable and has a fairly accurate schedule. If you live in the village you don't need a bus to get around and a lot of people don't own cars.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The roads are very narrow so large American style vehicles are not only impractical, but also not fuel efficient. Petrol is costly. Also we drive on the left and that is difficult enough for right hand drivers without complicating it with being on the wrong side of the car. There has never been a car theft I'm aware of but I wouldn't leave my CDs or valuables laying on the seat with doors unlocked. We have avery low crime rate, but stupidity is usually rewarded, especially in the summer when the streets swell with tourists. The roads are average except over Conor Pass, which is extremely narrow, and part of Slea Head, which is the same. You don't need 4 wheel drive. It snowed here for the first time in a decade this winter and it was melted off by the next day. There was patchy ice for a few days the end of January.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Our broadband is included with our landline phone. See answer above about cell phones.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I use O2 and there are also Vodaphone and a few other providers. The service is top up style or monthly bill pay and making calls costs quite a bit, so most people text each other or call from home. The start up is on par with the States and some of the unlimited call packages are starting to become available. My landline is with BT and I pay 70 Euro per month for unlimited calls to anywhere in Ireland, the UK and 10 free anytime hours to the States. That also includes unlimited broadband. The service is quick and we have 2 computers going most of the day. Cell phone service can be spotty along the coast in some areas and broadband is not available in a lot of the outlying areas. There is a top up satellite card for broadband you can use, but I've heard mixed reviews about it dropping the net and going down fairly regularly. If you need internet for your work from home, that is a consideration in where you live. Don't assume the house you are in will get net. Check it out first.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, except from the UK.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are two vets I know. One deals with the farm animals and the other deals with the small animals. Both are very qualified. Animals are not held in quite the same high regard as in the States, although most are cared for to a very acceptable standard. Dogs roam the streets fairly independently quite often and the dog poo on the footpath is common.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No decent jobs at the moment for anybody.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress is casual. Waterproof jackets with jeans and wooly jumpers (knitted sweaters) are the norm. This is a fishing and farming village so you will see wellies as often as heels or walking shoes. Nobody pays any attention to fashion. Business dress is casual, depending on what you do. Casual sports jackets for men and slacks with nice tops or jackets for women would be the norm in a bank or solicitors office. Evenings are still jeans, unless you are 20ish and it's Friday or Saturday nights. You will find everything from skimpy club wear to the same farmers out earlier in his wellies and oilskin coat.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Excellent.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

None for adults and the usual well-child for the kids.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. Very safe any time night or day.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We have a new hospital opening in May and a good clinic with four regular doctors and another doctor's office on Main. The care is OK, but if you have a really serious emergency you would need to be ambulanced or air lifted to Tralee. I don't know the level of care the new hospital will provide. We have VHI private insurance for a couple and pay 1100 per year for the B level policy. Doctor's visits cost 40 Euro with or without insurance. A couple can pay no more than 100 Euro per month for medicine without the government reimbursing you. I take Prilosec which can be purchased OTC in the States for about 30/month but costs 75 per month here and needs a scrip. Most other meds are MUCH cheaper here than in the US. The insurance we carry allows us to go to a private hospital, instead of the public ones, which lack of bed space and have a waiting list for non-emergency procedures. The doctors are all well trained, but the hygeine is not quite as intense as you would see in a US hospital. Of course when I fell and broke my arm the x-rays and emergency visit only cost me 40 Euro and that was without insurance! Yeah for socialized medicine!

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Wet, rain, more rain and then you get wind as well. You don't come here for the sunshine. When it is sunny it's like magic.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

None.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Ther are pony camps, riding lessons, sailing and diving lessons, football(soccer),hurling and rugby. There is bowling at the Leisure Centre but I don't know if they have a children's league set up. Probably lots more programs I'm not aware of.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a small, but healthy, mix of Americans, English, Polish, Estonians, South Africans, some Orientals and Australians. Not too many black African descent in the area. I have not noticed any intolerance towards other nationalities in general.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good, but like the rest of the world everyone is concerned about the recession and the value of their currency.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The pubs are quieter than they used to be, with everyone watching their money, but you can still find a hearty nightlife. There is a blues and rock and roll session on Sunday evenings at the Conor that most of the middle age pub types attend regularly. There is traditional Irish music every night of the week and set dancing a few nights. There are a couple of pubs that have regular card games. Drinking frequently is still a way of life here. Dinner parties are popular. We entertain frequently, but be aware that being on time is not an Irish trait!

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Accepting, but not large, community residing here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not much. There are the occasional comments about the Polish that are working here and taking jobs. It is a recession so there aren't any jobs. The area is very hard hit.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Visit Fungi the dolphin on one of the dolphin boats, go to the little aquarium, see the historic sights of which there are many, visit castle ruins, go surfing, diving, sailing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, bowl, the new climbing wall, the cinema, sit in a pub and listen to Irish being spoken, listen to local musicians, drive the scenic loop (Slea Head), watch for seals and puffins, visit the Blasket Islands by boat and the historic museum, take pictures!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Handmade musical instruments (particularly the uillean pipes by Con), local music on CDs (see Catriona at Dingle music on Main) jewelry from Brian de Stac or John Weldon, art from Patsy Farr and some other good local artists, pottery by Louis Mulcahy, wool sweaters and scarves from Kerry woolen Mills (been a woolen mill for over 300 years), lace and crystal and photography.

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Forever. You either love Dingle or don't get the big deal. It's home to me.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bad attitudes. Irish people are negative enough without encouragement. We are friendly, but love a good moan and are more than happy to carry on about how bad things are and completely don't get the "Have a nice day" culture. Saying that, the weather is the main exception to this rule and the crankiness is almost defended as being a good quality.

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3. But don't forget your:

Smile and an umbrella. Bring plenty of durable rain gear and warm clothes to layer. The heating systems are terrible in lots of places and most shops are cold. Saying that, you will find lovely roaring fires in cozy pubs and a good pint with friendly conversation.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Ryans Daughter" and "Far and Away"

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Faker Baker by Gene Courtney

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Faker Baker by Gene Courtney

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Dingle...I had friends here once that said it was the most beautiful ass end of the earth they had ever visited and couldn't imagine what I was doing here. Others come back year after year and try and figure out how to move here. You either love it or hate it. If you spend any time here the one thing you won't feel is indifference.

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