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A/An (is)land in focus: Ireland

Jun 8, 2021

Ireland is the second-largest island globally and is known for its fairy-tale castles and ruins hidden among the lush green, rolling hills, its cosy pubs, cuisine, rich history and Irish wolfhounds. But before you move to this fairy-tale island bag or baggage or even travel there, we want to enlighten you about the Irish traditions, weather, cost of living and education and health systems.

(Maybe) strange but not unheard of

According to the Irish, an itchy nose means only one thing: before long, you will get involved in a fight. This is a common superstition often referred to on the island.

An old Irish tradition still alive on the island is the wake of family and friends, and even people you have never met before, at your funeral to pay their respects. It may sound strange to the rest of the world, but to the Irish, it is nothing unusual.

The Green Island

Ireland is often referred to as the Green Island because it gets so much rain. Summers are hot and WET and winters cold and WET!

Ireland’s climate is moderate – it usually doesn’t get very hot or very cold – but you can experience all four seasons in one day. The weather is often a topic of discussion because it changes so fast.

The tourist season in Ireland starts at the end of June and lasts all summer. July and August are the most popular, but it is also often more expensive to travel then.


The education system in Ireland is one of the best globally The research of seven of their top universities, focusing on international collaboration, is recognised internationally. As a result, Irish graduates have access to a wide variety of opportunities and careers worldwide.

Hope for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Earlier this year, the Irish Times reported that according to the price comparison website Numbeo, Ireland is the 13th most expensive country to live in. Numbeo’s findings are based on the average price of goods and services in 139 countries. According to that, Ireland is more expensive than countries like France and Hong Kong.

The main cost of living includes consumer goods such as groceries, transportation, utilities and restaurants. Because Ireland is an island, everyday products are much more expensive than in other countries. If rent and accommodation are included, Ireland is in 10th position on the list. Accommodation is especially expensive in cities such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

An evening out is also very expensive; even just a movie can cost you quite a few euros.

Gold in its mouth

Ireland’s healthcare is among the best globally and costs only a fraction of what it costs in other developed countries. Moreover, Ireland is one of the few countries that allows foreigners to use their healthcare system immediately without registering first. This is especially true for those who want to make Ireland their home; they only need to show their visas.

The strangest things to get used to

Don’t answer when someone asks you, “How are ye?” (They say “ye”, not “you”). In the beginning, I always replied that I was fine, and I even asked politely, “And you?” but then I only got a confused expression. I quickly learned it is just the Irish way of greeting; they are not really interested in how you are doing. The heavy Irish accent is quite difficult to understand during a conversation, and on top of that, they have funny sayings and expressions that we do not always understand, such as “grand” (only good or acceptable, not excellent or wonderful) and “craic” (fun or newsworthy). – Elsje du Toit

Also read: Five things to do and see for free in Dublin

Photos: Elsje du Toit

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