Irish Banking – Welcome to the 18th Century

Today marks 29 days since I arrived in Ireland and finally I have all the paper work I need to open a bank account. Navigating the Irish bank system has been an experience to say the least, in the 8 years since I last opened a bank account in Ireland the country has tightened its rules on proof of identity and proof of address for new accounts. No longer does a letter from your employer (or the manager of the hostel you are living in as was my case the first time round!) count as proof of address. This can make proving your address especially difficult for someone new to the country who is currently living with friends/family or in shared accommodation.

Finally after being employed for over a fortnight I have the letter from Revenue (the Irish tax department) providing the proof of my address I need to open my bank account. I have made an appointment at a local bank and fingers crossed I will have my account open in another two weeks… yes that’s right two more weeks! Why? Because it can take up to a week to get an appointment with a bank and then a further 7 days to “process” your information and set up the account. But then I shall only have an account, it will be up to another 7 days before I have a debit card in which to allow me to access my money without having to go into a bank. It really is not a quick process…

BoI_g

So what have I been doing in the meantime to access my money?

So far I have been living off my Australian savings but that is not ideal. For every cash withdrawal I make it cost me $5 in bank fees and for every transaction 2.5%, I am also limited by the Irish ATM’s to a maximum 600€ withdrawal a day. This can make things difficult if you are wanting to provide a cash deposit and/or one month’s bond to someone for a share house to secure your accommodation.

As I have been working for the last fortnight in Ireland and I don’t have a bank account, I am paid by cheque. I received my first cheque last week and having been told that cheque’s could only be cashed by the bank who drafted the cheque I headed off to my nearest Bank of Ireland branch. On arriving at the bank and spending half an hour in line (it was lunch time so there was only one teller on) I was finally served. I was quickly disappointed again as the cashier advised me that not only did a cheque have to be banked within the same bank but also within the same branch in which it was drafted. In this case a branch about 40min walk from my workplace and nowhere near my home.

I was astonished and infuriated. I couldn’t understand – it was the same bank! I asked the cashier to explain why this was to me, but they could not say more than it was bank policy. My past experience with cheques has been limited to the annual Christmas/birthday cheque from the grandparents living on the other side of the country. Never have I had to fly across the country to bank my $50 cheque, so why could the bank that issued the cheque not also cash it? – the answer I may never know. So my cheque continues to sit in my dresser until next week when I go to pick up my next cheque and I will then proceed to walk the 40 min to the bank and cash both cheques at once.

Maybe it’s my “first-world problem” but I feel as we continue to storm through the 21st century the Irish banking system is providing us with a little taste of 18th century life.

Meetup – Starbucks, new people and Lilli’s Bordello

The weekend is here again so that’s my cue to launch myself on the general public and try to make some new friends. After last weekend’s fail in the local pub’s I decided to give Meetup another go and tried another coffee and chat Meetup group who meet weekly at Starbucks. This one, I am happy to say was a success!

The group was great. They meet in an upstairs area of Starbucks every Saturday and pretty much have the place to themselves, which means you know everyone there is there to chat and meet new people. The organiser is an energetic Irishman who introduced himself to everybody and helped introduce new faces to other people in the room. Walking in was initially overwhelming, although an outgoing person I do find it difficult to introduce myself to new people when I don’t know anybody in the room. But I had a crack at it, and have to say I am getting better at it. As the afternoon progressed I felt a little more confident walking up to complete strangers and introducing myself.

By the time the event was over I had a small group of new acquaintances and we decided to head down to a nearby pub for a drink and some dinner going to other Meetup groups. In the end three of us decided to head to the Meetup group I had wanted to attend, Saturday Night Drinks and Dancing at Lillie’s Bordello… in hindsight the name really should have given it away, this wasn’t a meet new friends, have a drink and dance meetup group like I had assumed. The type of “friends” you made here was usually only for the night and the average age of last night’s patrons was probably 35 – 55 years.

After some very awkward encounters – imagine a man who reminded you of an Australian trucker telling you about the effects of cider on your bowel movements while ignoring all of your blatant rejections – and within 10 minutes of walking through the door we were about to leave when some of the other younger people we had meet at the Starbucks showed up with the same misunderstanding of what this group was about.

Lillie’s Bordello is a swank little night club and the drink prices weren’t too bad so we decided to grab a corner lounge and isolate ourselves a bit from everybody else. As the night went on, a few other younger people came in and joined us and we ended up having a great night chatting, learning about other Meetup groups of interest, laughing and some causal drinks. By the end of the night we were all exchanging numbers or sending Facebook friend requests and not entirely regretting our choice of meetup event.

lillies bordello

Lesson learned: Meetup groups that have social events on during the day are more likely to be focused on meeting new people / making new friends. Meet up groups that are on after 8pm at night in a nightclub are more about “hooking up”. All in all it was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon/evening and I definitely think I will be heading back next week for the coffee and chat at Starbucks.

 

If you are interested in the Meetup groups I went to this week I have linked their pages so you can find out more about them:

Coffee, Chat and Cake @ Starbucks 

Saturday Drinks and Dancing at Lillie’s Bordello

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Paddy’s day was a bit of a learning curve for me this year. I had been torn between having a quiet one and working on my ‘new life’ plans and going out and trying to enjoy the day. In the end I did both, and although it didn’t go entirely to plan I am happy I did it. In the end I remembered I can work on my new life plans as much as I want, but your life doesn’t start until you get out there and actually start living it.

My first attempt at experiencing Paddy’s day was a bust. I went to my local pub by myself about 1pm and sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. From experience this has always been a great way to meet new people and I thought a great way for me to potentially make some new friends. Apparently 1pm on Paddy’s day is not the case. I found the people not unfriendly but unwilling to engage in conversation and not interested in meeting someone new. Which is fair play. It is early in the day, most people have just come from a Paddy’s day parade, and it is a day for people to enjoy with their family and friends. In hindsight I probably should have waited until about 3/4pm before heading into a pub by that stage everyone has got the big conversations out of the way and are a bit more relaxed and ready for meeting new people.

My second attempt at the Paddy’s day pub scene was much more successful. Going out with some old friends about 7pm the night was a lot more fun; and I still meet new people outside of my friends group who I will meet up with again.  I meet these new people all in the same way, while standing at the bar waiting for a drink (it doesn’t always need to be alcoholic, by the end of the night all my drinks were water), so even though my first attempt didn’t do to plan at least I know my method still works!

In the end it was a pretty good Paddy’s Day, and I think the hangover the next day was proof of that!

Charmaine

Xx

paddy