So you’ve landed your dream job and relocated to the stunning west of Ireland. Now it’s time to start building the life you’ve dreamt of. It can be daunting finding new friends and gaining access to your new community, but don’t worry here’s a few pointers that will send you in the right direction.
Without a doubt we will all build relationships in our new workplace, but it’s also important to build a support network outside of the office. For people with kids, leveraging off your kids relationships is always an option and is often the case. But for those without children or those wanting to try a different route, we have gathered a few helpful ideas to help you open up your possibilities.
Social media has changed everything and the world is a far smaller place than it has ever been. You’ll obviously stay in contact with your existing friends via social media.
Most of our friend groups are created by meeting friends-of-friends. This process can feel disrupted when you move to a new place, but you’re not really that far away, and even if you were, you can always rely on your existing friends for support. One of the great ways to meet people in your new life is to source friends from people you already know. Ireland is such a small place and we love this kind of conversation. Tell friends and colleagues when you’re planning a move and then ask them if they know anyone in the area and if they can make an introduction. Getting connected with people who are already connected to your social circle is a great way to plug into the social fabric of a new place, and normally, friends of friends aren’t that far removed from your type of personality.
There are many online communities as well that are a great source for activities such as Meetup. These communities are great for meeting people with similar interests. The Galway site offers a range of activities from fitness, to cultural evenings, to day trips. Check it out for some great ideas.
Do something way out of your comfort zone
Give yourself the gift of doing something ultra-thrilling and try something totally new to you. Try surfing; The west coast has the best surfing in Europe, or kayaking; either sea, river or lake there is a plentiful selection, or why not diving? According to world famous diver, Jacques Cousteau, “some of the best diving in the world is off Ireland’s west coast”, or if not any of these, try anything else that highlights the advantages of moving to the west coast. For the less adventurous, it doesn’t have to be all about the adrenaline rush! Why not try out the local Am Dram group or make your way to any one of the many trad festivals in the west, the choice is only limited by you.
If it is the adrenaline buzz you’re after, check out one of Ireland’s leading surf schools, Strandhill Surf School, They cater for all level of surfer, from beginner to advanced, young to old. This is a great place to advance your skills, get outdoors and make acquaintances.
Accept the invite
Always try to accept and extend social invitations. This can be challenging particularly as an adult, we all expect kids to just hop in there, make friends and get on with it. But as adults we really have to push ourselves to overcome our inhibitions. Trust yourself, take the step and just do it.
Who doesn’t love food? In Mayo there are two of winners of the 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards, Cian’s on Bridge Street for Best Restaurant and House of Plates who won Best Chef with Barry Ralph. Why not extend an invite to a couple of people to join you in checking out these great eateries? This is a great way for people to chat and get to know each other.
Exercising is social
In all the hustle and bustle of your move, your new job and new social life, you may forget that exercise is often also about community and friendships. The towns and villages in the west all have whole social circles built around exercise and sport. Whether it is the liberation of open water swimming, rigorous Boxercise or stretching it out with pilates, you already have your fitness in common which can make initiating a conversation so much easier. Think about what else you could have in common. The next time you’re at a workout class, ask someone if they’re often at that class or what other classes they would recommend as you’re new in town.
If you’re in Roscommon, why not head to the stunning Lough Key Forest Part every Saturday morning at 9:30am where you can run, walk, skip, chat and laugh your way around the park with their park run. Park Runs, are of course, all over the country so just have a look at their site and you can find out where your local run is.
Get out there
When all is said and done, getting out and actually trying new things is the key to building your new social circle. Say yes to opportunity, volunteer, explore and show up. New friendships won’t happen if you don’t go to new places and put yourself forward. So when the opportunity arises to do something new, DO IT. You’ve already taken a huge plunge; you know you’ve made the right move, now take advantage of all the west of Ireland has to offer you for your future.
Most counties in Ireland have a website that co-ordinates volunteering opportunities. These possibilities range from sports organisations, community development groups, community centre committees, youth groups, active age groups and Tidy Towns committees. Have a look a Volunteer In Leitrim to give you an idea of what’s on offer there. All you have to do is register your details and you will be matched with an organisation that needs your help.
Learn a new skill
Why not become a budding photographer? Photos are everything now, it’s so easy to do and a great way of getting out there. Maybe join a photography group, Donegal, for instance, has two great clubs, one in Buncrana, and another in Letterkenny. These are great for learning new skills and meeting people.
Get out more
As tempting as it may be to hideout in your new home, you need to minimise the unpacking and maximise the exploration of your new surrounds. Walking is best for this, as you slowly move around, you’ll get to see all the nuances of your new world, it’s calming and it will give ample opportunity to meet people. In the west there is so much to encourage you to get out that this won’t be a problem. Notice boards in the local shops, coffee shops etc. are still a great way of finding out about local groups that may be of interest or even lead you down paths you’d never thought of. Stores like The Grainey in Scarriff, Co. Clare are a wealth of information for details on variety of local and county wide events and classes. Where ever you are in the west there are always local stories bursting with knowledge of what’s on around the vicinity.