GBN expat secrets - Ireland: 'I'm lucky to live somewhere so incredible - the grass is so green it hurts your eyes'

Patrick Butson / Irish countryside

An expat spoke to GB News about life in Ireland

Patrick Butson / GETTY IMAGES
Anna Barry

By Anna Barry

Published: 15/04/2024

- 09:25

Updated: 16/04/2024

- 15:00

GB News is talking to expats across Europe and the world who have exclusively revealed the best places to live, tips and tricks for moving abroad, and the potential pitfalls to avoid. This week, an expat in Ireland shared what makes life so idyllic in the Emerald Isle

Patrick, 58, decided to relocate to Maynooth, Ireland, to pursue his dream of studying for a PhD overseas.

He had to put his dream on hold when he got married and had a family, but when he got divorced, he found that the world was his "oyster".

Patrick spoke to GB News about why he chose to make the move from Texas to Maynooth, Ireland, and why the landscapes make him fall more in love with the country every day.

The expat met a lovely Irish couple, Michael and Breda, 15 years ago on holiday in Tuscany.

"We really hit it off," Patrick said, "and then we met up in the States a couple of times".

He revisited the Irish couple, and on his travels, fell totally in love with Ireland. So when it came to Patrick moving abroad, he thought here was his best bet.

The expat said: "I had a real feeling and a real sense that if I was going to live in another country, it should be a country I had always wanted to be, and a country where I knew some people - and it’s worked out great."

Patrick has now been living in Maynooth for just under two years and if he didn’t have family obligations back in the States, he’d want to stay forever.

He decided on this particular Irish town because the University of Maynooth accepted him for a PhD in Philosophy.

Two years on, life in Maynooth is vastly different from Patrick’s life in Texas. Back at home, "you’d never walk or ride your bike - you’re always in your car".

He doesn’t drive at all in Maynooth, and he’s "thrilled" that he can get everywhere he needs to go by bike and on foot.

Patrick Butson by the \u200bRoyal Canal Greenway

Far from any 'concrete jungle', Patrick loves being in nature

Patrick Butson

"I’ve got myself in so much better shape. I’ve lost 20lbs riding my bike to university and back," Patrick said.

The expat’s new active lifestyle goes hand in hand with his newfound love of healthy eating.

He said: "I go and get fresh vegetables pretty much every day or so, and I buy my meat from a butcher. I eat much fresher foods. It’s all on my doorstep at the local market.

"I do feel like the food is fresher here, especially the milk and the eggs."

He now enjoys life outside of the "concrete jungle", being more at one with nature.

The expat added: "It is shocking how green Ireland is. I mean it’s called the Emerald Isle, but even in the winter, it’s greener than the Texas summer. It’s green, and it’s really gorgeous. It’s so green it hurts your eyes, especially now that it’s spring. There’s like 80 shades of green.”

Patrick is surrounded by beautiful scenery. He said: "To encapsulate what’s amazing to me, every day on the way to university I go by a sheep farm, a cathedral, and a 900-year-old-castle. The landscape here is really something. I try to remember how lucky I am to be living somewhere so incredible.”

For those who love walking and cycling, Patrick reassured expats that they can get around without wheels. He said: "When I go into Dublin they’ve got amazing buses and trains, it’s no problem whatsoever. I don’t miss my car at all, up to the point I forget that people have cars."

Not having a car has an added benefit. Walking and cycling rather than driving around the place means that Patrick is in and amongst the people. Because of this, he continues to find it "very easy" to talk to new people.

As for making friends, the expat said locals were "extremely welcoming" when he first arrived.

He said: "I go to the pub down the road and know pretty much everyone in there. The bartenders know me, I play pool and darts with people - it’s really friendly. They take their small communities really seriously."

The expat revealed: "I feel so safe here, I don’t even lock my door, I just don’t worry about it."

Of course, making friends as an expat is much easier when everybody speaks the same language as you.

Patrick found it to be a major relief that everyone in Ireland speaks the same language as him. He said: "One thing about English is that you’ll always find someone, somewhere who speaks it.

"But say I was living in the countryside in Portugal, I can’t speak Portuguese, which would add a level of stress."

Patrick is enamoured with his new life. But despite being extremely happy living in Ireland, every place has its downsides. One of Ireland's main pitfalls? It "rains every day".

At first, Patrick thought it was rather charming, but he admitted he’s now "getting tired of it".

"You can’t dry your clothes outside," he lamented. "It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, there will be a 30-minute shower at some point every day."

One saving grace is the Irish summers though, with the expat calling them- "really gorgeous".


Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

'It is shocking how green Ireland is'


Aside from the rain, another thing Patrick hasn’t quite gotten to grips with though is the nation’s love of Guinness, which the Irish "drink that like it’s nobody’s business".

He said: "It’s so thick and heavy, you might as well be drinking beer-flavoured milk."

When asked if he would recommend Ireland to fellow expats, Patrick touched on the housing crisis.

He warned: "One thing that is a problem here is accommodation. It is a nightmare."

Recommending it more for single people who are happy to rent one room in a property, or retired couples who "have a bit more money", Patrick said: "I wouldn’t bring a young family here."

If you can find a home though, Patrick would recommend Maynooth in a second. The idyllic town is just a short bus ride from big and bustling Dublin.

Patrick said: "What I love about living in Maynooth is that Dublin is just a bus ride away. There’s an atmosphere there that I absolutely love. I love listening to the buskers on Grafton Street. I also love the music venues and music vibes - people really love their music around there.”

Maynooth is quite the opposite. A far cry from buzzing, the town of Maynooth has one main high street and overall is just much more quiet. Patrick said: "It’s not built up, I can see the skyline outside my window."

Living in a quiet, cosy town on Dublin’s doorstep is ideal. The expat advised: "If you can get the housing, Maynooth is perfect."

Moving to Ireland

What you need to know

For those looking for a change of scenery without making a huge change, Ireland might just be the place to be.

Making the move from the UK to Ireland is not a laborious process. UK nationals do not require a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland. Within the Common Travel Area (CTA), British and Irish citizens can live and work freely in each other’s countries and travel freely between them.

GOV.UK has guidance for Britons who have decided to relocate. Those planning on making the move must tell UK government offices that deal with their benefits, pension and tax, consult general guidance on moving or retiring abroad, read Ireland’s Citizens Information service’s advice about moving to and living in Ireland, and read the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS)’s advice on the requirements for non-EU/EEA family members of UK nationals.

Britons looking to purchase a property should read the Citizens Information on housing in Ireland. Websites including and include properties to sale and rent.

As for driving, Britons cannot renew or replace their UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence if you live in Ireland.

They must consult Government guidance on driving in the EU.

UK and Northern Ireland licences aren’t legal for driving in Ireland. However, they can be exchanged without the need to take a driving or theory test.

Recommended places for retirees

  • Maynooth, County Kildare
  • Bray, County Wicklow
  • Salthill, County Galway
  • Killarney, County Kerry

Why Britons choose to live in Ireland

  • Visa or residency permit not required for Britons
  • Very, very close to England - makes visiting loved ones back home incredibly easy
  • Beautiful scenery
  • English-speaking
  • Close communities and friendly people
  • Proximity to UK and rest of Europe
  • Excellent healthcare

Possible pitfalls

  • Frequent rain, not a warm climate
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • High cost of living

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