Leaving Northern Ireland is a pretty big deal for me, for a number of reasons. The biggest being that it is my home and I’ve always lived here. Besides a short stay — 1 semester — in Derry in 2004 during my first university attempt (I didn’t enjoy the course nor the city so came back), I’ve always lived in Belfast. In fact, I grew up, and, since leaving my parents house around 7 years ago, have always lived within 30min walk of city centre/work/uni.
That’s not to say I’m not very glad to be leaving — I am! — but I may miss a few things about Northern Ireland, and indeed the UK. And so here’s a list of some of those things that. 20% of these are tongue-in-cheek. I’ll let you decide which.
Well this is an obvious one: who doesn’t enjoy free healthcare as provided by the UK government. It is one of the primary reasons for not understanding why anyone in NI would want to be part of Ireland. Talking with South Belfast SDLP MLA Conal McDevitt 2 years ago I asked him this, his response to explain that SDLP’s top priority is to “improve Northern Ireland first and foremost”, and that is admirable, what any political party should aim to do, yet after sneaking into Ireland they aim to still offer free NHS healthcare to those in Northern Ireland. Somehow. I don’t quite understand it.
Thankfully I have never suffered from chronic aches, pains, disease or other regular healthcare needs, however, I’ve had my fair share of trips to doctors and hospitals: stitches from running into things (glass door at the dentist, counter at the library), eye checks, ear issues, acne problems, and the occasional cold and flu. It’s nice to know that these are all free: consultation and treatments.
As of yet, I’ve very little idea exactly how healthcare in Ireland works, and hopefully I will have little reason to find out. But no doubt I’ll get a cold at some point (I think November is usually the time that gets me each year). Either way, I know there is money involved in everything. But at least it won’t be a minimum for 7 days wait for appointments as is the case here.
I love yoghurts. And Dale Farm’s Spelga yoghurts are by far the best available in Northern Ireland. I will miss them and their juicy strawberry and peach bits. It’ll be tough to find a comparable yoghurt in Ireland. But I’m up for the challenge.
I know there are Tayto crisps in Ireland, however they’re not the same. To the point where I just don’t understand why there are two different crisp manufacturers on this island making two different crisps under the same name, with a vaguely similar mascot. However they are different. And the Northern Irish Tayto crisp is superior.
Whilst I don’t watch a great deal of TV, there are a certain number of shows I will happily tune in to, though rarely at the original air time. And so the iPlayer comes into play, whether on the iPad or desktop, I use the service often to catch up on a show I missed. And whilst routing to a UK proxy for such occasions isn’t out of the question, nor is digital recording via TV, the ease of use will be removed somewhat.
Of course I will still follow the politics of Northern Ireland from afar, have my say and show my anger and frustration at times, but I will miss being a part of it. It won’t directly affect me, and as will give a little less of a fuck, but for that reason I will pine for a time when I could get riled up about the latest riot in East Belfast, political who-ha or us vs them bullshit.
Samson and Goliath
The two yellow cranes, named Samson and Goliath are simply a part of the Belfast landscape — iconic and inspiring. They tell of a Belfast which is proud of its [historic] ship-building industry, while remaining so photogenic and… well, they’re hard to miss!
Meeting people I know in the street…
It’s a great feeling, walking around town and simply waving to a friend or acquaintance, or stopping for a chat. And I’ll miss it. But it’s hardly specific to Belfast either…
Ah yes, Clements coffee chain. Basically, I had my first coffee here when I was about 16. It was a mocha latte, which is essentially a “gateway coffee” which lead me to become a hardcore user/abuser of real coffee. I’m now an addict.
Sunday at my Grandparents
Despite their über conservative religious views, Sunday afternoons won’t be quite the same without a few slices of Veda, Jamaica ginger cake, coffee and a run around the garden with my young cousins.
There are probably a few other things, but in general, I may have drawn this list out a little more than most. I hear Carlow has one or two decent coffee shops and the politics is a little more about real issues than tribal nonsense (ignoring some internet and blasphemy laws…)
What would you miss about Northern Ireland if you were to leave?