Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, North Americans pay homage to Ireland—a place strangely familiar to them. It seems that everyone can picture the lush, green landscape, has a sense of Irish lore and legend, or claims to be partly of Irish descent. The country draws around eight million travelers each year, and not just because it offers stunning rural countryside and old-world charm: it’s a dynamic country with a modern-day spirit and laidback attitude, and it’s home to some of the most hospitable, charismatic, and patriotic people in Europe.
When Christina McDonald—Seattle native, journalist, and author of Moon Living Abroad in Ireland—made the move to the Emerald Isle to pursue a master’s degree, she discovered a country that delivered on much more than just the clichés. Here are her top reasons to move to Ireland:
1. The Education— Ireland has one of the best education systems—and one of the highest educational participation rates—in the world: 81 percent of Irish students complete second-level education, and approximately 60 percent go on to higher education. And, best of all, education is enshrined in the Irish constitution as a human right, so everybody goes to college for free.
2. The Music—Ireland has something for everyone. Because it claims some of the biggest bands and musical acts in the world—U2, Snow Patrol, The Script, Van Morrison, The Thrills, The Cranberries, Sinead O’Connor, and Damien Rice, to name a few—there are probably more music festivals and concerts there than anywhere else in the world. Every year, rock concerts and festivals like Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Indiependence, and Belsonic are held throughout the country. In the pubs, traditional Irish music is played fast and reckless, lending a joy and energy that brings every person who experiences it to life.
3. The Craic— Craic is a word that’s sprinkled like salt throughout conversations in Ireland. It roughly translates to “good times with good friends,” and the Irish are in constant pursuit of it, be it at the pub, at work, or at play. The catchphrase “Beidh ceol, caint agus craic againn" (“We'll have music, chat, and craic”) sums up the sentiment well—it’s a time for laughing, talking, and music.
4. The Literature— Ireland has a tradition of being a nation of saints and scholars. This tradition goes back thousands of years—to the 6th century, when the earliest Irish poetry was written, and to the dark ages, when Irish monks began transcribing the bible. Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Patrick Pearse, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce are a few examples of famous Irish poets who exemplify Irish literature.
5. The Perks— While fuel for your car and electricity are slightly more expensive there than they are in the U.S., subsidized healthcare, cheap public transportation, social benefits, retirement benefits, and free education are some of the perks of moving to Ireland. Many companies bundle internet, telephone, and television for reasonable prices, and mobile phones can be pay-as-you-go or billed monthly. Plus, you never have to pay for incoming texts or calls, just the outgoing ones.
6. The Pub— The pub is the heart and soul of Ireland. It is where you go to have dinner with family, watch football (soccer) with friends, join in a “trad” fest (traditional Irish music and singing), or have a pint on your first date. At the pub, anything unrelated to the pursuit of merriment and craic is cast aside.
For more information on life in Ireland, or more detailed tips and advice on moving, visit the Moon Travel Guides website or check out this Q&A with Christina McDonald.
About Moon Travel Guides & Moon.com Moon Travel Guides make independent travel and outdoor exploration fun and accessible. With expert writers delivering a mix of honest insight, first-rate strategic advice, and an essential dose of humor, Moon guidebooks ensure that travelers have an uncommon and entirely satisfying travel experience. Moon not only guides, Moon inspires. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Moon is published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Visit Moon at http://www.moon.com.
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