New to the Parish: ‘I like that Ireland is not consumed by hate and violence’

A series on the lives of recent arrivals to Ireland. For an ‘older’ Brazilian in Ireland, finding work isn’t easy, and turning down €50 an hour to pose nude for an art class could have you labelled ungrateful

Tággidi Mar Ribeiro: arrived from Brazil, 2014

Finding work in Dublin as a young Brazilian can be extremely challenging, says Tággidi Mar Ribeiro as she takes a sip from her cappuccino. It’s even more difficult if you’re considered old, she adds.

The São Paulo native, who looks younger than her 34 years, says she has struggled to find employment since she moved to Ireland last September to learn English.

“I’ve applied for everything: sales assistant, au pair, childminder, babysitter, nanny, in pubs, waitress, staff, deli, anything. I’ve lost count. I don’t know how many CVs I handed out.”

Ribeiro says some au pair agencies aren’t interested in women over 30. She briefly worked for a family as child minder, but left after 10 days when she realised how low the salary was.


“I’ve looked for au pair jobs and had good interviews but once I ask them to pay me what the Government says is the legal amount, they say no. Most of the time families will pay €100-€150 a week.”

Ribeiro soon realised the key to finding work in Ireland was knowing people in the industry. She also learned that childminding and waitressing weren’t the only employment opportunities available to young Brazilian women.

When she turned down work posing naked for an art class, which paid €50 an hour, she received an email telling her she was ungrateful not to accept the position. She also met a Brazilian man who offered her work as a lap dancer for €10 per minute.

“I discovered there are a lot of Brazilian women working as lap dancers, strippers and prostitutes.”

She left São Paulo – a city she describes as exciting but expensive – and her work as a proof reader of novels to come to Europe and improve her English.

“Since I was a child I’ve wanted to live abroad. I was thinking about going to London because I have a friend there, but it was just too expensive. I put all my possibilities on the table and the best place was Ireland.”

Large Brazilian community

Ribeiro was reluctant to come to Dublin when she heard about the large Brazilian community in the capital. “If you travel abroad and you stay with Brazilian people all the time, what’s the point in leaving home?”

However, she was grateful for the support she received from Brazilians in this “cold and grey” country. Soon after she arrived, Ribeiro began DJing at the Twisted Pepper bar in Dublin.

“I really like the cold weather here and the fact that Ireland is not a country consumed by hate and violence. I’ve sometimes walked alone around Dublin late at night, and the fear I once felt becomes more of a Brazilian memory.”

Finding an affordable place to live is another hurdle faced by many English- language students. She shared her first home in Dublin with 15 other people.

“Finding a house in Dublin, if you are a Brazilian student and don’t have a job, is almost impossible. I’ve moved 10 times in nine months.” She now lives with a Polish couple in their fifties and their daughter.

Before leaving Brazil, Ribeiro worried she was too old to begin learning a new language.

“I was like, oh my God, maybe it’s going to be impossible to learn this language, but I knew I had to try and actually I’m kind of impressed by myself.”

When she returns to Brazil she wants to inspire older people to try learning a new language. She thinks age should never be a barrier.

She has a ticket booked to return to Brazil in July, but she hopes to find work and stay another year in Ireland.

“The problem with Brazil is, even if you are a well-educated person, it’s really hard to get a good job. If I work here with a full-time job as a cleaner, my life will be better than working in Brazil in my field.”

One day she hopes to open a cultural centre in her family's home province of Tocantins in central Brazil.

But for now she's content living her life by the words tattooed along the inside of her arm, once spoken by the Polish Nobel Prize-winning author, Wislawa Szymborska: "And whatever I'll do will turn forever into what I have done," she reads, tracing her finger along her forearm. "The main thing for me in my life is to try to do something else, do something different."

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Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast