Foreign workers in Ireland

With its economy booming in recent years, Ireland has been keen to attract skilled workers. A notable characteristic of the jobs market in Ireland has been how welcoming it has been to workers from abroad. Foreigners working alongside Irish citizens has been a non-issue for the workforce.

Workplace culture

Irish lifestyle and culture

If you’ve previously lived in a western country (such as the UK, Australia, NZ, or Canada), there won’t be too much in Ireland that you’ll find radically different to back home.

Day-to-day life wouldn’t be hugely different. A typical week would involve being at work 8.30am to 5pm (or thereabouts) Monday to Friday, with a couple of nights at home, a night at the cinema or heading to a live gig or the pub, Friday night at the pub with colleagues, Saturday afternoon visiting a museum or gallery or catching a sporting event or going to the gym, Saturday night having a restaurant meal with friends then hitting the pub, doing the weekly grocery shop at a supermarket on Sunday followed by a quiet drink at the pub.

A good ‘craic’

Irish people are known throughout the world for enjoying life. This usually involves sitting around in a pub and chatting to friends, acquaintances, neighbours or colleagues. 

Pubs are central to Irish life — which goes some way to explaining why you can find an Irish bar or three in just about every city in the world. In some ways they are to the Irish what cafes are to the Italians and French. They are less a place to go for a non-stop drinking session, and more a place for a social gathering, or as the Irish call it, for a good craic. ‘Craic’ (pronounced ‘crack’) is an Irish term meaning ‘a good time’. 

Irish people are famously friendly. This is not to say you can walk up to a total stranger, say hello, and be invited round to their place for dinner. But unlike some cultures where people are more reserved, most Irish are of a pleasant, outgoing nature.

Spending your free time

Dublin and Cork are both lively, interesting places to live.

Dublin and Cork both have thriving arts scenes (Cork was the European capital of culture in 2005), with plenty of galleries, museums, theatre, dance performances. While they won’t rival London, there is certainly enough to keep you interested.

Ireland has a proud musical heritage, both in rock (you might have heard of U2) and traditional folk (typified by bands like The Pogues and The Chieftains) and there are no shortages of places to check out live music in Dublin and Cork.

Sport is very big in Ireland. Gaelic football (kind of like a cross between soccer and rugby); hurling (kind of like a cross between hockey but you pick the ball up and whack it) are hugely popular indigenous Irish sports that are well worth checking out. Football (soccer); and rugby are also very popular. 

Laws and customs

Law-abiding citizens won’t find too much to trouble them in Ireland. The country has the standard range of laws when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Drink-driving is illegal. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and other similar drugs are all illegal. However, they are a reality of life in some venues, like in any big city.

Catholicism has an important place in Irish life. Although the influence of the church has diminished significantly in the past decade or so, it still retains a greater degree of influence over daily life than in countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada. Abortion is illegal (unless the mother’s life is in danger), and divorce has only been allowed since 1995. If you have strong views on religion it would be wise to tread carefully when discussing the subject, particularly with people you do not know well.

However, non-Catholics won’t encounter discrimination or prejudice, nor particular workplace practices related to it; nor will non-married couples living together be frowned upon.