First of all, I was really surprised of how conservative Ireland is. They like to keep things as they used to be, even on an architecture level. The fronts of the shops have been kept in their original shapes and materials, just painted with many colours, as the rest of the city. There are no buildings, and Dublin stayed a small-scaled town with the same little old houses in blocks, as the rest of the cities around the country. Catholic religion is still very present in the daily life and most of the Irish people are going to Church with their family every Sunday.
The fact that there are no buildings and no tower brings an important housing crisis, especially in Dublin. I have been simply chocked of how complicated it is to find somewhere to live in! Almost everyone live in a flat sharing because of the incredibly high prices of the accommodations. Everybody use websites such as Daft.ie, which is the most famous, to look for an apartment or house to share. The recruitment process to recruit a flatmate is also very strange. The owner fix an open viewing at a certain hour a certain day and post it on Daft (with the picture of the house and some quick information about the location and the furniture) and all those interested have to fill a survey about their job, their nationality, and the way to contact them at the end of the viewing. Only then the landlord will choose one person according to its personal criteria. It means that there are always at least 20 people fighting for the same room, for every single available apartment, and that only one person can get it each time.
Close to the city centre, the streets are really colourful. The fronts of the shops are red, green, blue, yellow or even purple and we can even find other colours on the houses' walls (above the shops). When moving out from downtown however, the houses get more and more similar and there are blocks and street completely identical. What really surprised me is that this structure is reproduced all around Ireland! All the city centres are the same and the architecture doesn’t change in function of the area as in France.
Ireland is a very patriotic nation. The streets are full of small and larger Irish flags hanged to the walls, crossing the street in garlands and drawn on the shops’ windows. Leprechauns and clovers, two most famous symbols of Ireland are everywhere, even on the bar of the pubs, on the walls inside of public places… I have been more then surprised that all the shopkeepers wished to keep the same decoration and that all of them were pride to remind all the customers in which country they are.
All the children are studying Irish (Gaelic) since a very young age and some of the schools are exclusively Gaelic-speaking. In the countryside, some families even speak Gaelic at home. That fact really astonished me as I thought that English was the only language in England. But indeed, every signboard or any public text exposed or sold is written both in English and Irish.
A lot of Irish also wear as jewels Celtics symbols. I saw especially a lot of them, men and women, wearing a ring with two hands catching a heart. This figure is present on a large range of products (jewels, watches, glasses…).
One last fact that I have just been incredulous about, was the incredible number or foreigners living and working in Dublin, especially French people. I was able to hear French every day in the street, and one person out of five who I was talking to was French. In my company, half of the employees weren’t born in Ireland.
Most of the foreigners I met were young and especially students. Indeed, Dublin has several universities allowing expatriation cursus. A significant part was then studying from one semester to one year. The number of “au pair” is also really high in Ireland.