herald

Monday 22 December 2014

The boys (and the girls) from Brazil

THE economy may be up in Sao Paulo but that doesn't stop young Brazilians heading to Dublin for the language and the craic.

Contrary to the gloom for so many of us, Ireland still manages to attract its fair share of immigrants, but rather than the traditional form of job seekers, we attract those in search of English-language learning, which includes around 25,000 Brazilians a year.

This, coupled with the 15,000 Brazilians already established in Ireland, makes the community one of the largest ethnic groups from outside the European Union.

Back home, the Brazilian economy is booming and, with Brazil looking forward to the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, many Brazilians view a stay in Ireland as a valuable opportunity to improve their English and enjoy a European experience before settling into long-term employment at home.

Elisandra Nunes (20) moved to Dublin one month ago and plans to stay at least a year.

"I came to Ireland because I have a friend who has lived here for a year and she told me Ireland was a nice place to live and very friendly".

Her main motivation for coming to Ireland is to learn English, but she admits with the vast numbers of Brazilians, it is easy for Brazilians to just hang around in their own group.

Attractive

"I know Brazilians who prefer to go to places where there are just Brazilians, but I want to meet a lot of Irish people because I'm here to improve my English and get to know Irish culture."

Ireland is particularly attractive because it isn't necessary to have a visa and, unlike in other English-speaking countries, the minimum amount of savings needed to live and work in Ireland is €3,000, considerably lower than in Britain where €7,000 is required and newcomers are not allowed to work for six months.

Under the terms of coming to Ireland, Brazilians must study English at schools in the city.

As a result, they are limited to 20 hours a week of work. Most seek employment as nannies or carers, or in bars and restaurants to give them a little extra cash rather than as a means of survival.

Out of term time and after completing their English courses, they are free to seek employment for up to 40 hours a week and have the option of renewing their initial one-year visa .

With the recession demanding that businesses offer more and more unique selling points to survive, many bars and restaurants around the capital have turned to aiming more specifically at the bustling Brazilian market.

Drinks

Dicey's Bar on Harcourt Street is a firm favourite for Brazilians on Tuesday nights, where drinks are €2.

The majority of the crowd on Tuesdays are non-Irish and Brazilians vie with the Spanish to be the largest group.

The Turk's Head in Temple Bar hires a Brazilian DJ on Friday nights, while live-music venue the Mezz, also in Temple Bar, is another popular place for Brazilians.

Some 30pc of the overall clientele at the Mezz are Brazilians. The kitchen cooks traditional Brazilian food cooked by a native chef, while on Saturdays the pub runs "Feijoada and Samba" during the day. Between 2pm and 8pm, Brazilian food is available, while a Brazilian DJ group plays samba and bossanova.

"The Brazilian community is extremely large and they have no particular home of their own. The idea was to give them somewhere to go, much in the same way an Irish bar is in another country," says Mezz owner Alan O'Reilly.

Blues

Brazilian Gabriel Barros performs at the venue with his blues-band Blue Amber every Saturday night. He has lived in Ireland for the past five years and sees the experience as positive.

"I came here and originally saw Ireland as a stopover. I was going to stay here three months, learn English and then go travelling around Europe for three months. But after a while you meet somebody, your plans change and you really start enjoying it," says the singer.

Also in Temple Bar is Taste of Brazil, which offers authentic Brazilian food such as feijoada, which is a stew of beans with beef and pork.

"The main reason we set up is because of the large number of Brazilians," says Brazilian owner Tiago Silva.

The restaurant opened in July 2011 and the business is doing "okay" despite the difficult times, because of the large market among international students in Ireland. Half of the customers are Brazilian.

"What we are seeing is more and more couples coming in, so a Brazilian with an Irish guy or girl, or Brazilian with a French guy or girl. At first, we see them when they are dating and already we've had four weddings and another one on Tuesday," says Silva.

Brazilians are not the only migrant group which continues to thrive in Ireland despite the recession.

Mainland Europeans, whether they are French, Spanish, Italian or German continue to be drawn to Ireland to learn English and because of the abundance of multi-national companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Facebook and Google, which have a heavy emphasis on foreign language ability.

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