Northern Ireland Life and Culture

Northern Ireland Tourism

Living in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Culture

Holidays, Literacy, Electricity, Water, etc.

I'm not sure which of the following might be obvious and which wouldn't so I'll just put it all down
Everyone here takes a holiday every year. People with children would mostly take it in the summer when the kids are out of school (our school year runs from September to June) when, of course, the prices go up so that's why I generally head off at other times. Most people just go for the two weeks and in Northern Ireland that usually means the 'twelfth fortnight' which is the fortnight containing the July 12th holiday when factories usually close down. Usually people head off somewhere warm and sunny which in most cases means Spain or the Greek islands though a lot of people have started going to France (usually taking their own car on the ferry).
Literacy runs to getting on for 100% although you do hear of people managing to get right to age 16 and not being able to read.
Everyone has electric in their houses. Except for us! Well, in our country cottage anyway. Likewise for mains water and flush toilets. (we've to go across the road for these in the country!) We used to have gas (propane) too but that was stopped quite a while ago although they're currently in the process of putting it back in again. It seems like everyone has a phone too but it's actually 'only' about 90% of people. You can call anywhere in the world from any phone (private or payphone). We've phone cards as well as coins but I'm never really using payphones that much and I just use my phone chargecard when I am.
You've a tax return to do each year on the self-assessment basis (ie something like in the US) which covers the year from April to March. We're taxed independently so that each person gets one of these. In practice, unless you're getting income apart from your salary, you don't get a return to complete as it's all worked out automatically in the simple cases (ie for most people).
We don't have rabies (yet) so there are strict quarantine controls at the borders of the British Isles (you can take pets back and forth to the Republic). We've agriculture inspectors at the entrances to Northern Ireland too in the same way as you get at the California/Arizona border.
The island of Ireland doesn't have any snakes at all. Supposedly because St Patrick banished them but more likely because they all got wiped out in the last ice age and nobody was daft enough to bring more in.
We don't have any poisonous insects. We do have bees and wasps that sting but they're not deadly like the ones (I think) you get (unless you're allergic to the venom). We've also got little biting midges but you usually wouldn't run across them and they're not poisonous anyway: just annoying.
We don't get things like termites and the like as it's too cold for them.
We don't get things like typhoid or malaria or any of the tropical diseases. Mostly it's the flu that floors everyone! Kids get stuff like mumps, measles and all the other kiddie diseases.
All the water is drinkable. Point to note: we're very careful when abroad to operate on the basis of 'no uncooked food and no ice in the drinks' and, thus far, we have never been sick on holiday from eating the food (even in India when I was expecting it).
It's safe to walk out during the day and at night though naturally there are areas in the city where it would be more sensible not to. Well I feel safe walking out at night, a girl on her own mightn't I suppose. Children would generally walk to school if they're close enough but you really notice the extra traffic caused by the school runs when classes start after the summer

Famous residents... Quite a surprising number for such a small place, here's a brief selection:

C. S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, whose life was depicted in Shadowlands

George Best, the footballer (autobiography)

James Galway, classic flautist

Kenneth Branagh, the actor/director

Liam Neeson, star of Michael Collins (based in Ireland), Schindler's List

Van Morrison, the singer/songwriter

and, of course, the Titanic, star of many films such as Titanic, Raise the Titanic, and Titanic - The Story, to name but a few, not to mention the designer, Thomas Andrews whose house is still standing as indeed is, I think, his boat house at Whiterock.

Guidebooks... There aren't a whole lot of guidebooks on Northern Ireland. In fact there is only the Visitor's Guide to Northern Ireland that covers the province specifically. All the others cover the whole of the island of Ireland and generally skimp on their coverage of NI (which makes for a confusing read sometimes) but if you want to give it a go, try here.


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