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Living and Working in Northern Ireland

Joanna Clare

The Emerald Isle is the romantic name for Ireland, which is separated into Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, with a population of circa 1.8 million people, originally incorporated six counties which are Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Despite retaining their popularity, Northern Ireland was more recently, (in 2015), sorted into eleven districts for local government purposes.

Part of the United Kingdom, it is located on the north east side of the island, with borders to the south and west with Southern Ireland. In simple terms, The Northern Ireland Assembly has responsibility for many policies, whilst others are overseen by the British government.

The lush and fertile green countryside of Northern Ireland is extremely rich in history and culture with magnificent lakes, ancient castles, breathtaking forestry and 31 of the most incredibly diverse beaches where you can witness nature at its finest. Timeworn tales of leprechauns and fairies have been passed down through the generations and its magic is so interwoven, it is not surprising that many series of  the popular Game of Thrones were chosen to be filmed here.

The weather can at times be unpredictable but enjoys a steady, temperate maritime climate which produces ideal pasture for the farms which concentrate mainly on sheep and cattle as well as certain crops.

The economy used to be heavily industrialised, primarily shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles but much of this has  been replaced by the service sector and public sector, with a focus on retail, financial, health, property,education, security and administration. Of course tourism plays a major part in bringing in revenue as does hospitality which, again, is gradually reopening now after being affected the the pandemic.

An in depth survey by Ulster Bank in April of this year revealed Northern Ireland’s fastest rate of growth in almost three years and the recent easing of lockdowns has encouraged expansion, which is very positive and promising for the future.

Trade features well in Northern Ireland with a number of major seaports with large, modern container facilities,  carrying both passengers and freight. Much of the import and export is to and from the United Kingdom but often worldwide.

Northern Ireland has three airports so remains well connected to the rest of the United Kingdom. Belfast International is the largest with almost six million passengers each year. The smaller George Best Belfast City airport and City of Derry airport are also popular.

Railways are operated by Northern Ireland Railway and the roads consist of a network of close and well maintained roads so travel is uncomplicated.

House prices are affordable with the average home costing between £149,000 and £175,000 (sourced in May of this year) and although this has risen by 6%, it is still very reasonable indeed.

The people here are decent, warm and genuine. The food is delicious and the locals take much delight in their traditional dishes. Oh, and there’s no snakes. The legend is that Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland or also known as the Apostle of Ireland, chased them all away into the sea, so you really have nothing at all to worry about!

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