Dublin Culture – Moving to the Irish Capital
The Dublin Culture
This is the third chapter in a series of articles hoping to make your move to Dublin easier and achievable. In this chapter, we will be using a little Irish humor to discuss the Dublin culture and some things you should expect to encounter when you move to the Irish capital. The previous chapter in this series was on housing in Dublin.
Do you half (have) the time?
Don’t be surprised if you ask someone for the time, and they say something along the lines of it being, “half 7,” or, “quarter past 7.” It’s very rare in Ireland for anyone to say the exact time. Rather, people tend to use expressions such as, “quarter to,” or “quarter past,” with the most popular being, “half.” While “quarter past” or “quarter to” is fairly straightforward, (meaning 15 minutes after or before the hour), the phrase “half” is a little more complicated.
In some countries, such as Germany, saying “half 7” means halfway to 7, or 6:30. But in Ireland, saying “half 7” means “half past 7”. Even if the person doesn’t say “half past,” they almost always assume you’re aware that’s what they mean.
Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you, “See you at half 7 at The Spire!” This way, you can save yourself the experience of showing up at 6:30 and waiting there for an hour. And as always, if you’re unsure, just ask!
What’s the weather like?
While Irish weather really deserves its own article, you could write an entire series on the weather and still not feel like you’re any more prepared for it. The weather is unpredictable, and you will feel lied to by the weather report daily.
Put simply, in Dublin you can feel like you’ve been through all 4 seasons in the time it takes you to walk from Tara Street Station to Grafton Street. What does that mean for you? The key to surviving in Dublin is wearing layers and always being prepared for a little bit of rain or wind.
When it rains…
The city can feel absolutely deserted, with many people taking refuge indoors in pubs or museums, or even just by staying cozy at home.
But when the sun comes out…
It completely transforms the city! Popular places to gather when it’s sunny are large parks like Phoenix Park, Stephen’s Green, or Merrion Square. Hang out with friends on the grass, or bring a blanket and a book, and settle in for an afternoon lightly burning in the warm Irish sun with seemingly the entire population of Dublin. If it’s a sunny day in Ireland, and you didn’t walk away with a small sunburn, did you really spend any time outside?
To catch the bus…
It might seem simple enough, taking a bus around the city centre. And you’ve probably used a bus system at home before as well. But something interesting to note about taking buses around Dublin is that you have to stick your hand out to tell the bus driver you need that bus- or else it will not stop.
You might feel a little bit ridiculous flagging down a bus as though it’s a taxi, but if you don’t you’re going to feel even more ridiculous standing there all day wondering why no bus is stopping.
Read our article on transportation in Dublin to learn more about how to travel around the city.
Is it soccer or football?
Irish people love sports, but in particular, they’re passionate about any sporting event that their national team is playing in. Something interesting to note is that unlike most Europeans, some Irish people call football, soccer. However, it should be noted that this is a very sensitive subject that is still debated to this day. In certain areas of Ireland, most people refer to Gaelic football as simply “football,” and so use the term “soccer” to distinguish between the two sports. However, some Irish people will swear up and down they’ve never heard another Irish person use the word “soccer.” It’s safe to say there’s no one answer for this, but whether you call it soccer or football, it’s easy to find someone to watch or play it with.
If you’re looking to catch a game at a pub or sports bar, make sure you get there a couple hours early to scout out a spot- for popular games they get crowded somewhat quickly. And try to catch a hurling or Gaelic football match to join in with the passionate Irish fans.
What’s the craic?
No, don’t worry, that’s not something rude. If someone calls you, “great craic” or says “that was great craic,” it’s actually a good thing! It just means, “good fun” or “funny.” If someone says, “What’s the craic?” They’re basically asking you, “What’s up?” Essentially if something’s “great craic” that means it’s something you can really laugh at. If anyone asks you, “Any craic?” they’re asking you, “Any news?” For example, if you and your colleagues go out to a pub after work, you might be having the craic, or in other words, having some fun.
While everyone in Ireland wants to have the craic, it’s not like in Barcelona where clubs and pubs are hopping until 4 or 5 in the morning. Instead, most nightlife in the city centre winds down around 1-3am, but what’s even more surprising is that most public transportation, (like the DART, LUAS, and Dublin Bus) stops running around 23:30.
Make sure you check the schedule for your transportation ahead of time and plan alternative options to get home Luckily, the NiteLink is a great alternative that runs much later. Read more about Dublin’s public transportation.
An bhfuil Béarla agat? (Do you speak English?)
While English is the dominant language used in Ireland, both English and Irish have official status as languages of the Republic of Ireland. Throughout Dublin, street signs, buses, and public notices will have both Irish and English on the signs. If you quickly glance at a bus or train station sign and realize you have no idea what it says- that’s probably because it’s in Irish, and not English! You’ll very quickly learn how to recognize the Irish name for places you frequent on the train or bus. But until then, just keep an eye out for the English name which is usually right underneath it, or flashing right after.
Some shops and markets aren’t open on Sundays
Or, if they are, they have much shorter hours. It can be common for coffee shops, stores, and supermarkets to be closed or open with shorter hours on Sundays. Always check the operating hours before you leave the house, just in case you travel into the city centre to try a cool new café that ends up being closed. The same warning can be said for bank holidays.
Welcome to your new home!
Dublin has a large and thriving expat community, and because of that the city can often feel like a melting pot of Irish and expat culture. But you’ll notice just how quickly you make a home for yourself in this laid-back city. In fact, many people believe that Dublin is one of Europe’s most friendly cities. Often, folks will make conversation with you while waiting for the elevator, or older folks will make small talk with you on the bus. Music scenes, pub and sports culture, and even literary clubs can be great social outlets to meet new people. Dublin might be gaining a reputation as Europe’s Silicon Valley, but it’s a much friendlier and welcoming city than the Valley. Just make sure whatever you fancy, grab a cuppa tea and take in the view. Don’t worry, it’ll be grand!
Author: Nicole Agger-Nielsen