Lukewarm In Ireland
“I find Ireland to be a very calm country with so many scenic attractions…I have also learnt a lot about the plight of the Irish and their culture…. However, Being Black in Ireland sure is a struggle sometimes, especially when you start to feel the sense of not belonging.”
After living in Ireland for the past 7 months, I must say it has been a bittersweet feeling. Do not get me wrong, I have loved it since I moved here but everything comes with a downside. I moved here mainly to pursue an MBA after completing my undergraduate degree in America. I was in search for a different experience and I am glad I made this decision. The education system in Ireland is not that different from that in America. The main differences so far have been that the courses are for a shorter time and affordable.
I currently reside in Dublin, which is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Dublin is a multinational hub with people with origins ranging from all over Europe, North & South America, Asia and Africa. I have barely met Irish people, surprisingly. This has turned to be a plus, as I have made friends with a lot of people from all walks of life. I find Ireland to be a very calm country with so many scenic attractions. The country is also known for its arts and entertainment especially in the music industry. I have also learnt a lot about the plight of the Irish and their culture. Oh, and do not get me started on the whiskey, beer and Irish coffee (ingredients: coffee, whiskey, sugar and cream — a nice kick for your morning). I believe Dublin is the best location for black travelers visiting Ireland for the first time because the city is more welcoming than other cities. Ireland recently became a globalized nation, and most Irish, especially the old, are not used to seeing and living with foreigners. This thus causes some people to act shocked and intensely stare when they see a black person and this comes off as hostile when you are not used to it.
Being Black in Ireland sure is a struggle sometimes, especially when you start to feel the sense of not belonging. The occasional people staring you down and poor customer service just because you are a foreigner can be a drag. It sometimes ruins my day so much that I just go home and be alone. In such times, it would be expected that there will be other black people that you could hang out with and share common interests, but I barely see black people around and when I do, they look away immediately, so it is hard to start a conversion. This is very common with younger people. I suppose most people are shy or just minding their own business. The older men usually like to call other black people out by saying “hello my sister/ brother”, which tends to come off as a bit too much sometimes.
Additionally, as a black woman finding a good place to get my hair done for a decent price has been a struggle. There are a few people who provide different services from hair braiding to weaves and wigs. I recently got my hair braided by some lovely African women in the city centre (on Moore Street). In relation to weaves and wigs, I have not found someone reliable yet. Also, in relation to hair products a few drug stores like Boots sell some Shea Moisture and Cantu products, making it easy to maintain my hair myself. I also discovered that fair trade stores sell natural hair products as well. I currently have relaxed hair so I just maintain my hair at home and get a keratin treatment (at Tropical Hair, also in the city centre) every three to four times.
Nevertheless, I have enjoyed my time in Dublin so far. It is a great city with a lot of culture and most Irish people are known to be very welcoming and friendly. My time spent here has been good so far and I hope to make the best out of the next few months!
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Instagram : @jeanette__d