Diversity in Dublin

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CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location. 

The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email inclusion@ciee.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.

No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues. 

Body Size/Image

There are no significant differences between how Irish and US societies view body size, and no significant differences in reactions to people based on their body size. Ireland has amongst the highest rates of obesity in Europe. Students can expect to feel safe as it is not usual for Irish people to comment on other people's sizes. Like many European countries, Irish society is not fully inclusive for people of different body types; for example, it can be difficult to source very large sizes of clothing or footwear in mainstream stores.

Disability

In general, provisions are in place to assist with accessibility for those with physical disabilities and Ireland has made good progress in this regard in recent decades. Societal attitudes are somewhat ahead of government policy and there is a legacy of underfunding across a range of disability support services.  Regulations regarding access are incorporated into new buildings and infrastructure. However, like many older European capitals, preservation orders on older buildings and streets mean that some parts of the city can be more difficult to navigate for those with a movement or sight impairment, due to uneven sidewalks, the use of cobblestone surfaces and the absence of elevators in buildings.

Public transport is fully accessible, though city buses accommodate only one wheelchair user at a time. You can expect that universities have appropriate measures in place for ensuring students in need of sensory support are enabled to take an active part in classes and university life. For neuroatypical students requiring academic accommodations, supports are available. Students requiring accommodations should provide a letter from their home university and as much relevant information as possible in advance of arrival.

Socioeconomic Status

Dublin is a relatively expensive city, though there are many ways to stretch your budget. Discount supermarkets, such as Aldi and Lidl, are located throughout the city and are well stocked with fresh and frozen produce. The Dealz chain offers a wide range of reduced-price toiletries and household products. Many restaurants and cafés, especially those located near university campuses, offer student discounts or loyalty bonuses.

Many of the premier cultural sites, museums and galleries are completely free of charge. Using a prepaid student leap card will significantly reduce the cost of city transport. Medical and dental charges are significantly lower than in the United States and on-campus medical services are even cheaper. There is a perception amongst Irish people that if a student has travelled across continents for a study abroad experience that they must be wealthy; however, this does not impact on how students are treated.

Gender and Gender Identity

Students can expect Irish people to be welcoming and respectful of their gender identity in general. Some older members of society can be condescending towards those who opt for a gender other than that assigned at birth and may not use preferred pronouns, for example. This is typically habitual, rather than aggressive.

Irish legislation is amongst the most progressive in the world with the 2015 Gender Recognition Act allowing those over 18 be recognized by the State as their self-identified true gender. Roles and expectations for men and women in Irish society have largely converged; however, a significant gender pay gap exists and women have increasing but unequal representation in senior management positions across many industries. The time when Irish society, and even some legislations, saw the position of women as 'in the home' is long in the past.

Heritage Seekers

Many Irish people have family and friends in the United States and most Irish believe that they know a lot about life, politics, and society in the USA. Students exploring their Irish heritage, especially those with Irish family names, will most likely encounter interest and support, though there is some skepticism shown towards students who claim to be 1/16 Irish or less. People will readily share opinions and criticisms about US affairs and policies but are not as receptive to critiques of Irish society.

Racial and Ethnic Identity

Irish people like to see themselves as welcoming to visitors and are prone to viewing racism as a problem occurring elsewhere in the Anglosphere. Aggressions, both violent and non-violent, with a racial motivation, do occur, as in many cities, but are rare.  Victims are rarely international students, more often New Irish. Similarly, Ireland's only indigenous ethnic minority, Irish travelers, are disrespected, ostracized, and isolated by large sections of Irish society. CIEE work with traveler’s advocacy groups and can provide introductions to aspects of traveler culture that may go unnoticed.

Ireland has historically viewed itself as being downtrodden and disrespected by external powers and Irish people identify closely with other groups. This can be challenging for some students who may not expect to find such an outlook in an overwhelmingly white, relatively advantaged society. There has been no noticeable reported increase in xenophobic incidents directed at people of Asian heritage related to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

Religion

Post-independence Ireland was influenced and shaped by the Catholic church, though the power and influence of the catholic church has lessened dramatically since the 1980s. The majority of Irish citizens do not actively practice any religion but may identify culturally with either the Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland churches. There are no restrictions on religious freedom in Ireland, nor on the wearing of religious dress. Religious dietary requirements can be managed with planning and shops specializing in kosher or halal products, for example, are usually located near to the relevant places of worship, though these products may be less readily available in most supermarkets.

Sexual Orientation

A seismic shift in official policies driven by younger generations has occurred in Ireland over the last generation. As recently as 1993, homosexual relationships between men were criminalized in Ireland. Twenty years later, Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage by a popular vote and in 2018 became one of a handful of countries to have an openly gay head of government. Ireland is an inclusive society where all sexualities are accepted. Incidents of discrimination are rare.

Programs in Dublin

Live from Dublin

Study abroad in Dublin, a vibrant European capital with a truly international flavor. You’ll quickly become familiar with its narrow streets, myriad cafés, shops, and famous Dublin pubs. Learn more about programs in Dublin.