Welcome back to my 3rd installment of Moving to Ireland. Tomorrow will start week 4 of our new adventure in the Sunny Southeast of Ireland. Yep, that’s what the locals call it, which only serves to reinforce our decision to move to this part of Ireland. One of the first questions most people ask us is “Why Dungarvan?” after they have said how wonderful it is to live here and they wouldn’t live anywhere else. Our response usually begins with our understanding that the area has the best weather relative to the rest of Ireland. What that means of course is they definitely get their fair share of bad weather but not nearly as bad as the rest of the country. After all, if Ireland did have good weather, it would be overrun with people since it is such a beautiful country and the people are so friendly.
Aside from the weather as a reason for moving to this part of Ireland, we usually go on about how we had visited here many years ago with Kathy’s mother for a storytelling festival and really enjoyed our visit. I will say one thing about the festival here before I move on. It was held in a local hotel, which we’ve already been back to for a visit, and was very well attended. So much so, we were seated near the back which made it hard to hear sometimes. The final storyteller got up and proceeded to tell this long story which was very interesting albeit a bit challenging to hear due to our location in the room and his accent. We heard most of the story just fine but unfortunately, when it came time to the punch line, we had no idea what the man said. This while the rest of the room is roaring with laughter at the story. To this day, we still have no idea how it ended. My hope is to one day find out just how the story ended thus my resolve to live in this town (ok no, not really). Good story huh?
So, back to the reasons for our selection of this fair village for our Ireland adventure. Our rationale was fairly straight forward. Dungarvan is in a good location near the sea, centrally located between 2 fairly large cities, Cork and Waterford City, and is only a short 2 ½ hour drive to Dublin if we want to go to the big city. Additionally, both Cork and Dublin have good airports with low cost airlines for traveling throughout continental Europe – our favorite pastime.
Dungarvan itself is large enough to have its own newspaper, Movie Theater and play house and more pub and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. It is also close to some beautiful mountains and forests for great hiking and sightseeing. Lastly, it’s got that small town feel where you can imagine everyone knowing your name after awhile and a pretty non-existent crime rate. Yes, people actually leave their cars unlocked at night.
Enough said about that. As I mentioned, we’ve been here just about 3 weeks and are starting to get settled in. The good news is the house we rented, while initially having some issues, is working out very well. The landlord has been nice enough to buy new furniture, dishware and replace most all of the flooring. The flooring replacement happens later this week so I’ll let you know how that goes. All in all, a nice place to live and located in the heart of the town directly across the street from the harbor leading into the Irish Sea. One note about the water literally right across the street from our house. It has one of the largest tidal swings I’ve ever seen. I’m talking a difference of 15 feet between low and high tide. God help us if the water rises substantially in the next year or so due to that fictitious global warming thing…
I thought I would mention some differences I’ve noticed in our daily living in Ireland to this point. First off and the most obvious of course is the driving which I alluded to in my earlier blog. I must say, both Kathy and myself have adjusted well to driving on the other side of the road – not even a scratch at this point. Parallel parking is still a bit of an adjustment, but with practice as they say.
Plumbing in Ireland is also a bit different than we’re used to. The electric showers for instance, while effective, don’t give me a warm fuzzy when I’m using them being so close to the water and all. Not to mention the 220 volts of energy heating the water right next to where you’re standing in a puddle of water. The alternative and one we have to contend with (as will our visitors), is to take a bath. Yep, our 2nd bathroom is not equipped with an electric shower and while it does have what appears to be a shower hose, it is in fact gravitationally challenged. Meaning unless you’re basically sitting down in the tub, the water pressure is non-existent. So my suggestion to the many visitors we expect, is to bring your Rubber Ducky and enjoy the tub.
The other issue on the plumbing side of the house is more of a time warp thing. For those of you old enough to remember, there used to be sinks that had 2 faucets, 1 hot and 1 cold. It was up to you to mix it up and not scald yourself in the process. This I’m still having difficulty with. It doesn’t help that the sinks are pretty tiny at least for someone with fairly large hands. The answer, I’m told, is to use the sink plug, fill it with water, and then go to town. I guess like drawing yourself a little bath every time you want to wash your hands. I have to say, I’m not liking the process much myself. Can you say hand sanitizer? Other than that, most everything else works like home with a time twist.
Electricity, I’m told because I’ve yet to get an electric bill, is very expensive. So much so, there are 2 settings on electric meters to charge customers at different rates based on the time of day you use electricity. Prime time starts at 0800 and goes until 2300 (that’s 8am to 11pm) and 2300 until 0800 is the reduced rate. And from what I understand, the rate is literally half as much at night vs the day. That said, most people try and time their use of large energy consumption items to the off peak hours. Hot water heaters heat up large enough quantities of water over night to provide enough for the next day. Additionally, many houses have electric storage heaters that heat up during the night hours and slowly give off the heat during the day. We have a hybrid solution in our house thanks to our landlord replacing 3 of our heaters with a much more efficient newer generation electric heater you use any time during the day due to the low cost – we’ll see how that works when we get our first bill.
As I may be losing some of you with this spirited discussion of utilities in Ireland, I’ll move on to something a little more upbeat. I’ll address more of the housing differences in a later blog.
The pub culture is alive and well in Ireland with more than enough pubs to wet your whistle. My go to beer has been Smithwick’s so far. I am disheartened to let you all know that they actually serve Budweiser and Coors in some places, but for the most part, it seems to be Guinness, Heineken, Smithwick’s and a local Dungarvan brew. Since Kathy and I used to live in Germany and traveled around Europe a lot, I developed my own beer scale to get a gauge on the cost of living in a particular locale. If I used that scale in Ireland, I would be very worried due to the cost of a pint of beer in this town. At close to 4.50 euros each, it can get a little pricey. But the good news is my scale is not reflective of the rest of the economy as my original theory had purported. Shoo!
So back to the pubs. Some good news on that front from a non-smoker perspective. No smoking is allowed here either. Not to say there aren’t a lot of smokers here because there certainly are. A lot of places have small outdoor areas with a make shift roof to give the smokers a place to huddle and have a smoke, especially on the more inclement weather days. Most places offer your typical pub grub during the day and maybe an early dinner. Music can be had most nights if you’re willing to stay up for it. Most music doesn’t begin until 9:30 pm or half 9 as they say. Traditional music is held a few times a week but will be much more plentiful as the weather improves and more tourists come to town.
Restaurants are also very plentiful in town with a Michelin star restaurant literally 200 feet from our door. You may ask have we been there yet??? No, not hardly as we’re more pub connoisseurs. There are actually many nice bar restaurants that offer a wide range of food. And of course, there is the obligatory Chinese restaurant in town for your chop suey fix. All that said, you won’t go hungry in Dungarvan if you don’t feel like cooking. Now if you do like to cook, they’ve got you covered there as well with several grocery stores within walking distance.
Well folks, I think we’ll call it a day for this blog as I’m trying to keep them to 2 pages for my worker bee friends who are still working may not have the leisure time to read these quality writings. So to end this tale of living so far in Dungarvan, I’ll leave you with a bit of Irish to ponder before my next blog.
Erin Go Bragh – literally meaning Ireland forever. I like the sound of that!
PS For those of you asking for pictures of us in Ireland, I’ve posted a few on Facebook.
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