by Lori Alexander
Lori Alexander is an American
mother of two living in Dublin Ireland. She is full time freelance writer, and can be
contacted through http://wz.com/travel/TravelWithinIreland.html
When my husbands old family cottage on the Irish Sea became vacant, he suggested an
odyssey that was to forever alter our destiny. In December, after one excited glance at
websites covering the Irish coast, I became hooked on the idea of raising our children in
his ancestral village. By the following September, we were living in Ireland.
Compared to travelers looking for independent adventure in a foreign country, we were
fortunate. His family and a home awaited our arrival. My In-laws were prepared to help with
the Irish-side leg work. Still, we bore the brunt of every moving headache, worry and
I turned to the internet. I studied the Irish Tourist Boards website to began
familiarizing myself with modern-day Ireland. I relied on the Irish online news to get a
feel for the social and political climate. I was fascinated by the Letters to the Editor.
Marriage to an Irish national secured my eligibility to live and work in Ireland without
fuss. I could choose between a renewable five year visa or Irish citizenship, downloaded
all the necessary paperwork, and waited for the bureaucratic wheels to grind forward.
Friends and family were consulted on major and minor subjects alike. Raised within the
staunch concept of separation of Church and State, I wanted to know how much religious
instruction the boys would receive in school. Could we bring our car? What about crime and
cost of living? How cold would it really get in the winter? One well traveled Irishman,
presently a Londoner, reassured me that while the island was suffering growing pains, he
knew of no other place hed rather call home.
When I needed hard facts to clarify the organizational differences between American and
Irish society, I turned to Oasis, Social, Community and Family Affairs, and Irish Revenue.
A realistic impression of what I could expect from my new life as an Irish citizen began
to take shape.
Equally interested in a subjective perspectives and the obscure, I checked with expats and
grilled Americans posting on internet message boards. Id already learned a
transformer would safely power some of my appliances, but could I get screw-in light bulbs
for my American lamps? What did they retrospectively wish theyd shipped? Were
American and Irish vaccination schedules compatible?
By March, moving children, pets, and household contents to a foreign country had became a
full time effort.
Move to Ireland and Oasis provided clear solutions in plain English to problems I
hadnt considered. Both offered information and contact numbers covering everything
from adapters to residency requirements.
We discovered that Irish schools can have long waiting lists, and at worst as few as four
or five student openings a year. Oasis provides an excellent general overview of the
Our preparations werent without moments of humor. Locating a school for my eldest, I
emailed a request for registration information, and received a brusque reply. The school
was full. After contacting their suggested alternative, I secured a place for my son. When
I informed my mother-in-law that I had my kindergartners enrollment well in hand,
and mentioned the schools name, she burst out laughing. I had unknowingly entered
him in a school that taught all lessons in the Irish language.
My mother in law found a National School, and soon the headmistress and I were emailing
particulars back and forth, and pen-palling with my sons new classmates.
Leaving my old cat and dog in California wasnt an option, despite the outrageously
expensive, heart wrenching six month quarantine. I tracked down the import license
application and the requirements, and my mother in law inspected Lissenhall, the sole
quarantine facility in the country, in an attempt to calm my fears . With a minimum six
month waiting list, we hadnt a moment to lose, and shelled out the hefty deposit.
British Airways cargo manager worked with me personally, and most importantly,
gained my trust. Although the hold was climate controlled, she suggested we skip
tranquilizing our pets. She found medicated animals had a harder time maintaining their
body temperature. She advised placing a frozen bottle of water above their water
dispensers, to maintain a small, continuous drinking supply that would thwart turbulence.
During their six hour layover in London, BA cleaned and fed them, and allowed me to call
and check their progress.
I agonized over what to ship, and spent a month of weekend mornings making donations,
selling cars, and conducting garage sales. I choose packers locally, using word of mouth.
Our boxes disappeared on the back of a moving truck, and we lived out of suitcases for
eight weeks. I was able to download every conceivable import form from Emerald Movers, and
arrive at the Port of Dublins Customs and Excise fully prepared.
With the move imminent, and our excitement and trepidation mounting, few details remained.
I chose Aer Lingus on the basis of an immediate San Francisco-Los Angelas transfer
followed by an
uninterrupted eleven hour flight directly to Dublin International. I found cheaper
flights, but their departure times and lay overs didnt suit flying with small
children. Tickets in hand, I stocked up on Highlands Teething Tablets for my ten
month olds inevitably cranky moments. I reserved the bulkhead, which included extra
space and a portable baby bed, and prepared to say my good byes.
On September the 8th, we boarded our uneventful flight to Dublin. Our pets were already
safely installed Lissenhall, and our worldly goods were steaming across the Atlantic. Our
belongings arrived on schedule, cleared customs without a hitch, and our children began
adjusting to our new home. The following February, our beloved pets came through
quarantine and are now safely home with us. Eighteen months later, we're certain we left
no detail forgotten.
While marital status simplified my move to Ireland, citizenship to any EU country provides
the same status. Ireland offers a variety of visa, citizenship and work permit schemes.
Move to Ireland http://www.movetoireland.com
Employment Opportunities www.monster.ie
Irish Embassy http://www.irelandemb.org/
US State Department http://travel.state.gov/
Social, Community and Family Affairs http://www.welfare.ie/publicsite/DSCFA_homepage.jsp
Irish Revenue http://www.revenue.ie/faq_main.htm
Irish Schools Online http://www.irishlynx.com/Education.html
Irish Tourist Board http://www.ireland.travel.ie/home/
Local News and Weather http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/
Cargo Import Forms http://www.emeraldmovers.com/download.htm
Pet Quarantine Info http://www.irlgov.ie/daff/AreasofI/Importation/quarcont.HTM
Quarantine Forms http://www.emeraldmovers.com/dogs_cats.htm
Lori Alexander http://wz.com/travel/TravelWithinIreland.html