Working Abroad Q&A: Paddy ‘Spud’ Murphy from Taghmon in Co Wexford now lives in Cieszyn in Poland, where he works as a podcaster and filmmaker.
When did you leave Ireland?
I think it was 10 years ago, but my wife says it was 11, if I look it up it’ll make me feel old. I left for work and an adventure.
What did you study?
I did sound engineering many moons ago and then I did journalism because I wanted to be like Hunter S. Thompson or John Pilger or a cross between the pair of them. I'm still dreaming.
Irish people think about people coming here from Poland. You went the other way. Why?
Work. The recession hit and my wife had an empty flat in Poland, so I decided I could teach English. For the good of the language I gave that up when my students were coming in with Wexford accents saying “eh lad, that was some quare good yoke I seen on the tele last night”. Now I mostly do copywriting, proofreading, and of course, the podcast, and I’m getting into documentary filmmaking. I’m pitching a few at the moment so fingers crossed for those.
What is your podcast about?
It's called Atletico Spudland and it's investigative journalism, well, my version of it anyway. Think This American Life, but without the condescending tone and more inquisitive. I've been wanting to do documentary films for so long, and I had this podcast (previously called The Comedy Cast), which I now use to make short documentaries about things I'm interested in learning more about. Could be paranormal stuff like the Mandela Effect (which is weird as hell) or a doc about Kerbdog or Scary Éire, bands from my youth who should have conquered the world. And Irish lobby groups, that's a murky world that I want to explore.
Do you have children? Did you go for Polish or Irish names?
I have two, a boy (3) and a girl (1), Mikolaj and Malwina, both Polish names but we call them Miki and Masheena. They both have Irish middle names. People really struggle with the Murphy surname, they say "Murp-heh", so I'm thinking of changing it to Murfski or Murfowski; Spud Murfowski sounds badass.
Polish people in Ireland teach their children Polish. Are you teaching yours Irish?
Miki can say things like "an bhfuil cead agam...." and "cáca milis" and "milseán", but I was told that three languages would be confusing this early. I really want to have a code language with them so we can talk about Mama without her knowing what we’re on about. I did teach the dog to sit for "suigh síos" though, but the poor devil died last year.
What challenges do you face living in Poland?
The Polish language, wow, it hates Irish people. Polish people though, they really like us.
If someone wanted to come and work in Poland what opportunities are there?
English teaching comes first to mind, there’s loads of IT jobs too. Beware of Polish ladies though, they fool you with their good looks and they’ll fatten you up and you won’t be let leave. Any of my foreign friends who’ve begun relationships here are all hitched now, they get their talons in man and don’t let go... in a good way.
How do salaries compare between Ireland and Poland?
Well, there’s a reason Polish people move to Ireland and it isn’t because they like wet and windy weather.
Do the Irish fit in well in Poland?
Absolutely, the Poles take it as a personal challenge to outdrink you because we have such a reputation as drinkers. They drink vodka like it’s water at celebrations and it took me two years to figure out the secret to not getting butchered; eat fatty food.
What is it like living in Cieszyn?
I love it here, it’s a half Polish, half Czech town. It’s got a mad history. If you were born here 100 years ago, you were born in Austro Hungary, then you were Czechoslovakian and now you’re Polish, or Czech. It’s beside the mountains too so loads of hiking in summer and skiing in winter.
What advice would you give to someone interested in living abroad?
Do it. And wear sun cream and your GAA jersey. I’ll approach anyone with a GAA jersey and I’ve met plenty of Irish people here for holidays and music festivals. I’ve also met a bucketloads of Polish lads who’ve bought jerseys from second-hand shops here who thought I was bonkers for trying to talk to them.
Are there any other Irish people in your neck of the woods?
I have one very good Irish friend who’s also a filmmaker, he’s just premiered his first film in Dublin a few weeks ago called Brute.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in Ireland?
I miss the Irish humour the most, the slagging and the self depreciation. And Irish cheeses, and fresh seafood. I’m a 10-hour drive to the nearest beach. Oh, and Smithwicks too.