Working Holidays

Scrubbing Toilets in Galway

Summer 2000 | Kirsty Henderson

My flight to Ireland was for May 5th which turned out to be great timing as I arrived before the masses and had no problems getting a job. Many people who arrived in town after June had real problems finding work. In May (and again in September when I was leaving) there were countless signs in the windows of shops, cafes, and restaurants looking for workers. Many of these places such as 'The Homeplate', 'Cafe Roscoe's', and the carwash on St. Vincent's Avenue are used to transient workers and will pay you under the table.


I landed a job at a huge hostel by the train station called 'Kinlay House'. I wanted reception, but the boss said she was looking for someone who was staying longer for that position. Instead I took a job in housekeeping. At first the early mornings were a bit torturous, but gradually though I got used to it, and as I got to know the staff, the job became pretty fun. But to this day I have never figured out how people manage to get poo on the underside of a toilet seat.


The job paid crap and I only worked around 30 hours per week. If I was trying to save money this probably wouldn't have been enough, but I was only there with the intention of sustaining myself and having a good time, so I made enough to get by and didn't have to dip into my savings too often.


After I was settled into my job, I had to start thinking about getting some permantent accomodation. I was living at the 'Salmon Weir Hostel' on St. Vincent's Avenue and was starting to meet other working travellers who expressed interest in getting a place. Every Wednesday at 2pm at their office, the coveted 'Galway Advertiser' accommodations listing comes out. For anyone looking for a place to stay in Galway, this is your best bet. In May most of the students at Galway's University are going home, so there are lots of options. I looked it over a few times and checked out a few places before deciding to pay the extra money and stay put in the hostel.


I had an amazing summer living in Galway and I'm convinced that had I moved out of the hostel it wouldn't have been quite as great. So my advice to those of you who can stand sharing a room with a bunch of people: don't be so quick to move out of a hostel! You'll meet some wonderful people, have some excellent conversations, and have plenty of unforgettable nights.


For those of you who might be interested in working in Ireland, I'd definately recommend it! Galway is an ideal place to stop if you don't have a work permit and need some casual work before heading off to your next destination. For those of you who would prefer to get a proper work permit, you'll have more options when if comes to jobs, and getting tax refunds will be much easier.


I had one of the best summers of my life working in Galway. The community is very young and there's something to do every night of the week. It's great being surrounded by people who love to travel as much as you do and who don't get bored talking about where you want to go next. If you're looking into working abroad for awhile, give Galway a try!

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