We left Belfast with a teary goodbye from my lovely aunties, and hopped on the train to Dublin. We had only travelled 100 miles, but when we hopped off at Connelly Station, it felt completely different. Some may say another country in fact, while others would puff up in indignation and say but they’re the same country ya fecking eejit, and then there’d be a bit of an argy-bargy which would last a couple of decades…
So rather than start another war on my blog, I’ll just tell it as I have observed, and your comments are welcome.
The flags are different. There’s a lot of the tricolour of green white and orange about at the moment, mainly around the pubs, and on cars and in house windows. In the North, much of the bunting and Union Jacks and Jubilee Flags that were a leftover of the Jubilee celebrations have hung on tenaciously as the 12th July approaches, and there have been additional touches such as the Ulster Flag in places such as Bushmills (makers of the best whiskey in the world since 1608, and as an official whiskey taster I can definitely attest to that)
In Dublin the flags are for another reason, it’s Euro2012 and Ireland are playing. Thanks to the
indoctrination coaching of my Auntie Moya, the kids are definitely team Green. There are 30,000 Irish fans in Poland (including my cousin Claire’s boyfriend), the opening match of Ireland and Croatia attracted an audience of 2 million in Ireland, and people are painting their houses in the Irish flag colours. It’s Footy madness, a condition with which I am entirely familiar, so it’s comforting rather than confronting.
There weren’t as many tourists in Belfast as there were in Dublin, which was something I did enjoy. Outside Belfast, though, it was a different story, with the Giant’s Causeway being a huge drawcard for heaps of tourists and tour buses alike.
The kids clearly overwhelmed by the hordes of tourists…not really, just another excuse to put up a pic…
The accent is different. The Dublin accent is quieter, softer and sexier than the Belfast accent, though still not as sexy as the Scottish accent which can make me weak at the knees 🙂 .
The street signs, bus destinations and official signs in the Republic of Ireland are in English and Irish, which I liked. It was a good way to learn a few more Irish words, other than being able to say the Hail Mary and swear in Irish 🙂 .
The architecture also varies considerably. Belfast is a Victorian city, with much of the inner city’s main buildings built with a Victorian Gothic flavour. The architecture reflect the industrial powerhouse it was, and the docks still hold an inportant place in the skyline of the city. We loved heading past the docks and Master BG was so proud that his big papa used to work there. A lot of the old terrace houses have been pulled down and rebuilt-my dad’s old house in the Kashmir Road suffered this fate. The architectural flavour of Dublin is Georgian, which does lend it a classical flavour. We stayed in Ballsbridge in a little hotel with a bright red door, a classic Dublin house!
Ladies’ fashion was also another difference. The Dublin style trended towards flat shoes, trenchcoats and scarves, whereas the Belfast girls paid more attention to being fashionable than practical.
Checking out the men (well their hair) there was also a trend towards really short buzzcuts for men (like a number 1 or 2 all over) in Belfast that wasn’t as prevalent in Dublin.
The shopping on the other hand, was very similar. A lot of the chain stores and supermarkets in the North were present in the South. Buses too are the main form of public transport for both Dublin and Belfast, with the train services not as developed or extensive as London for example.
In the end, everyone was all incredibly friendly, the kids got free rides everywhere in Ireland, and I shed tears leaving both Belfast and Dublin.
Next stop is the land of Tartan- Scotland!