'I miss the sun . . . the heat in the morning'


Six people of different nationalities featured in Census 2011 outline their experiences of living in Ireland

INDIA: Bharath Arekapudi (37) is Hindu. In Ireland since 1998.

My job in IT brought me here. I’m here with my wife, Manjula, and our two daughters, Ishitha (5), and Taanvi (3). We are Hindu. We have our own small room at home in our house, that we have dedicated as a temple. We do our pujas there. But on a social level, we miss going to temple in the community. There is no proper temple in Ireland, and we are working towards that goal. We miss a lot of things. The food. Our families. A lot of Indian people say they miss the heat, but I don’t. What I really like here is the warmth of the Irish people. We feel included in the community. I feel my kids are totally Irish.

POLAND: Barnaba Dorda (34) is an atheist. In Ireland since 2005.

It was my girlfriend who took me here. She came, and I followed. It was always my dream to come to Ireland. I read all about it; about Strongbow and Brian Boru. I work here now as a trade union official.

I’m not a typical Pole because I’m atheist. Most are strong Catholics. Poland is still a very strong Catholic country and very influential, not like in Ireland now. I don’t see anything changing about civil partnership in Poland, for instance, with the church.

People in Ireland are very open. They are always smiling, even though they might be sad. I mix with the Irish, but the majority of my good friends are Polish. There are so many Polish people here, you can’t avoid them. I think it’s because it’s easier to have a conversation in your language and you can put all the small details into the talk. You can make more connections. My girlfriend went home, but I stayed here.

MALAYSIA: Vincent Teo (33) is Buddhist. In Ireland since 2000.

I came to work here during the boom. I’m an accountant. What’s great about the difference in the business ethos between Ireland and Malaysia is that there is a sense of humour here. In Malaysia, the focus is much more on protocol. A CEO will only speak to another CEO, so what’s on your name card is very important. You can’t compare the two cultures: they are totally different. But what I have found here is that the Irish are very open-minded, and accepting of other people’s culture.

AFRICA: Zimbabwean Tendai Madondo (37) is Pentecostal. In Ireland since 2002.

My husband, Farai, is a civil engineer and he got a job here. We have three children, Tafara (1), Britney (9), and Tatenda (15). We are Pentecostal Christians, and go to church every Sunday.

What I really struggle with here is not being able to develop strong relationships with my Irish neighbours. The very strong sense of community in Africa is what I miss most here.

In Africa, we have a way of getting together and supporting each other, so you do find yourself grouping together in Ireland because of ethnicity. Whether you’re from Nigeria or Zimbabwe, the person you sit next to is your black brother or sister.

VENEZUELA: Daniela Sarmiento (29) is Catholic. In Ireland since 2010.

I came here to study English for six months. When the time was up, my English still wasn’t so good, so I decided to stay. Now I’m doing a certificate in business and marketing.

I’m Catholic. I don’t go to Mass or to the church very often, but of course I believe in God, 100 per cent. I pray on my own every morning and night, I respect the saints and Mary, and if I’m passing a church, I bless myself.

I miss the sun in my country. Oh my God – I miss heat in the morning so much. And I miss all the natural produce that we can get from farmers or the bottom of our gardens; strawberries, watermelon, banana, avocados, lettuce, clementines. The Irish can be cold when they approach you, not like Latins: they don’t hug and kiss you. But they’re open-minded, friendly and easy-going.

The big thing for me here is that it is so safe, and I can walk on my own at night. Caracas is not safe. To walk on my own in Caracas is impossible: you would be robbed, beaten up, or someone could kill you.

ITALY: Pasquale Mellone (34) is Catholic. In Ireland since 2008.

I came here because I got a job offer. I work in online marketing and advertising. The job market is much more flexible here than in Italy, and salaries are higher here.

I’m Catholic, and I go to church every Sunday. I used to be the co-ordinator of a church group in Ireland. I’ve found the Catholic values are different here in Ireland. There is a contrast between the values that are preached in the church, and the lifestyle of people. And there is all the spending on alcohol. I see that as a difference between the countries. I mix with everyone.


The number of Church of Ireland members in Co Cork, the highest of any county


The number of Jewish people in Ireland


The number of Travellers in Co Waterford, the lowest of any county


The number of babies (under one) with no religion


People who describe themselves as Catholics


The percentage of Traveller women who have given birth to seven or more children