Ever since the controversial Five Things I Hate About Dublin, Ireland post, numerous well meaning (I’m sure) people have asked me why we don’t just leave. The simple answer is, Dublin. The post, I now realize, was misnamed. Most of the things I disliked then, and dislike now, about our current living situation have to do with Ireland, and not Dublin. You see, I love just about everything about Dublin.
I think it’s taken me this long to realize the difference because, as an American (in America), love of country trumps just about any regional loyalty (except possibly New York-o-phelia, or Chicago-mania). But in Ireland, while there is a great deal of patriotism and national pride, it’s not such an overwhelming thing. You’re allowed to preference your regionalism or city affiliation above country. There’s less ego attached at almost every level.
Thinking back on it, the five things that hacked me off at the beginning are largely still with us, but have been dealt with. And, truth be told, most of them were problems with Ireland (and the Irish system) and not Dublin. While the Dublin Bus system still has abysmal signage, and we had that wee incident with the bus inspector, I’m at peace with the service. Just the other day I realized that, of the several hundred bus journeys I’ve now taken in Dublin, only a handful have been problematic in any way. The buses have always been clean. And Dublin Bus has never broken down, or been in an accident with me aboard.
Beyond the buses, I really do love nearly everything about living in Dublin. It can be expensive. But in return you get remarkably clean air for a city, great music, theatre, a wide variety of international dining – from street food to haute cuisine, a walkable city with historic districts lovingly preserved next to modern office buildings, oceans in view of the mountains, flagstone sidewalks and brick streets, and sports (my copy of Rugby for Dummies/Americans is on order). By contrast, I spent time in London in December and found myself anxious to get back “home” to Dublin, because it seems a much more manageable and personable city.
So Dublin is off the list of things that irk me. But Ireland is a different story.
To its credit, Ireland is a land of wonderfully nice people (almost to a fault), and storybook landscapes.
But Ireland is also the land of a mysterious medical system that almost nobody (including medical professionals) fully comprehends. Nobody really knows all of what is and isn’t covered, how long it will take to see a specialist, or what’s different about the care/coverage/billing/cost matrix if you tell them you are a public versus private patient. But that’s hardly different from most Irish government programs. A call to almost any government office all too often yields a response telling you that the program in question is “under review”. The apologists will whine that Ireland has “just“ installed a new government (in spring 2011) and they need time to get up to speed. Come on, that’s pathetic. At that rate they’ll be up to speed by the time they leave office.
Ireland is also the land of ad hoc taxation. When they need local revenue, they, of course, institute a one size fits all federal tax that they are wholly unprepared to enforce. And that’s because the government has no centralized registry of citizens, visitors, property owners or people required to pay it.
So, suffice it to say that I see a lot of missed potential and third world (but for the rule of law) policy in Ireland that drives me mad. But I could grow old in Dublin.
This, of course, has me wondering, is it fair for me to separate my allegiance in this way? Am I an immigrant in Dublin, and not Ireland? Can I be a citizen of one without the other? Will I become accepting of Ireland’s blemishes in the name of living peacefully in Dublin? Can/should I compromise my indignation about the one to sate the other?
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
Taxed in Two Places