As Dublin Wakes: Getting to Know Your City At All Times

I am a reluctant morning person. I’m probably at my “best” early in the day, but I like my sleep. My city is the same. While Dublin looks lovely in the morning, it is often up late, and frequently in its cups, so it’s a city that generally starts late.

Cycling at 6:30 this morning, with the sky tinted rose out over the Irish Sea, and the sun still crawling towards its first cup of coffee, I was struck by the fortitude of this town. Despite the late night and an early morning chill, delivery men and women, the frosty joggers, and the gung-ho get to work early types were all making their way in the day. I’ve always loved to see a city early in the morning, while it’s still stumbling around bleary-eyed in its manky old bathrobe. You learn a lot about a place if you catch it with its makeup off.

Getting to know your city at all times of the day is invaluable. Make a point of seeing it not just when it wants you too. Sneak up on it. Surprise it. Catch it off guard. For potential immigrants this is critical.

In today’s world of too much information and endless sources of input, we are fed a constant stream of constant streams. No, I don’t know what that means either. Except to say that the key word there is “fed”. We are given information freely, and, effectively, told what to think.

One of my favorite lines from the TV show ‘The Wire’ (a show packed with good lines) comes when a wise old clergymen tells a police commander “Nothing in this world is more expensive than free.” That’s certainly true when it comes to getting to know a place. They (the powers that be and their PR operations) will tell you what they want you to hear. They put out the message:

“Dublin is a party town filled with good-natured easy going folks who like to drink and stay up late.”

And before long, true or not, that’s what people expect. They go looking for it, and publicans, restaurant owners, and officials give them that. The whole system gets geared to that thing, and the reality of a place is determined by all manner of information that we get for free. But is it true?

If you are going to live there, year round, possibly for life, you must look deeper and find the answer to that question.

It’s for this reason that I always recommend taking a pre-emigration trip if your circumstances will allow it. When you take your scouting trip, make an effort to get up early and stay up late. See the city with its shirt untucked. Read the literature and the hype, but enjoy the beauty of sunrise.   Say hello to people on the street at 6 in the morning. Do they grumble or say hello back?

A good friend, and fellow immigrant who writes the New Dubliner blog tells me that Paris is really not a “morning” town. By ten o’clock they are just getting the day’s deliveries.

“10 o’clock, seriously?”, I asked, stunned.

Even in Dublin the early morning supply runs are substantively under way by six. In the U.S. it’s often 3 or 4am. Yes, American excess truly knows no bounds.

But my point is, a city’s, and indeed, a country or culture’s, rhythms reflect its values and priorities. They are a pretty good indication of what you can expect if you move there. So, get up, and get out. Get to know the place where you live, and the place where you think you’d like to live.

In the meantime, please share you experiences with city rhythms, and catching notable places off guard.

Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:

* Renting Abroad, Home Maintenance and Property Management in a Foreign Country

* Corporate Taxes Abroad, and the Con Artistry of Luring Foreign Investment

About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
This entry was posted in Dublin Life, Home & A Sense of Place, Immigration & Emigration, International Moving, Irish Life & Society, Modern Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to As Dublin Wakes: Getting to Know Your City At All Times

  1. Brian says:

    Such a wonderful post. I truly enjoyed reading this.. Thank you.

  2. Thomas says:

    Walking back from town in summer as 17 year olds after spending all our money on beer we’d sneak up residential driveways and drink the creamy full fat portion of chilled pint bottles of milk, having been just delivered. The only witness to the crime ever being nocturnal red foxes.

  3. Enda says:

    “…while it’s still stumbling around bleary-eyed in its manky old bathrobe.”
    Glad to see you’ve embraced the word “manky”, Glenn! Won’t be long until you’re calling it a dressing gown, either 😀

  4. Kelley says:

    Hi Glenn! I’m an American living in Ireland as well (since July!) and found your blog by googling moving pets to ireland from the US! I’m currently trying to arrange things to get my 2 dogs (both around 75lbs..) from San Diego to Dublin! To say the’s been a nightmare! Would you mind emailing me what airline you used/pet relocation you used or recommend? It may be in your posts, but I don’t think I saw it. I keep reading all sorts of different information online and quite frankly, it’s confusing me! Thanks so much 🙂 Kelley

  5. casacaudill says:

    We visited Ireland in 2009, and like many trips overseas, our internal clocks were off. We woke up at 5 a.m. and waited around until what we thought was a reasonable hour – 7:30 a.m. – to seek out a coffee shop. Going downstairs at The Shelbourne we asked the bellman for a recommendation for a good local cup of coffee. He looked at us like we were crazy, chuckled, and told us there were two down the street but he didn’t know if they wee open yet. We found a chain akin to Starbucks and were the first people in. We sat there for about 30 minutes with our coffee, and then at 8:30 a.m. ON THE DOT the masses swarmed in. Between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. the streets were a chaotic rush of people going to work. At 9 a.m,, we had the streets to ourselves again. It was surreal.

    • Hi Casacaudill,

      Thanks for reading the blog, and particularly for taking the time to contribute.
      Yep. That sounds like a typical Dublin morning.


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