How an Expat Here Uses Darien Examples to Describe America’s Exotic Real Estate Culture to Irish Back Home

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On the first floor (ground floor) there aren’t doors between the rooms. There often aren’t any fences between properties. Or lights on the ceiling. And why aren’t there any curtains up?

For an Irishwoman and her husband coming to America, there were a lot of new things to get used to, Darien Realtor and Irish native Clodagh McCoole wrote in a July 4 article in the Irish Times.

When she and her husband went house-hunting in Darien for the first time, they had even more to learn in a country that has a sometimes exotic real estate culture for Irish buyers, even though it shares a language with Ireland.

Clodagh McCoole Irish Times

Image from the Irish Times website

McCoole’s article in the Irish Times on July 4.


But we don’t always share a language. The Americans insist on calling the vegetable patch a “garden,” and the garden is a “yard.” In the U.S. there are terms the Irish are unused to: EIK for “eat-in kitchen,” “siding” for the material on a house’s outer walls, “Jack-and-Jill” for a bathroom shared by two bedrooms.

Yet none of those differences were the biggest in coming from Ireland to America: “Irish peole generally are really taken with the size of American houses,” McCoole said in an interview with Darienite. The Limerick native added that since she left Ireland about two decades ago, the houses back home have gotten bigger.

When her mother saw the finished basement in the McCoole’s house, Clodagh wrote, the older woman remarked “that it was like another whole house underneath the house.”

Photo from the Berkshire Hathaway website

Clodagh McCoole

Another big difference with the way things are done in Ireland: A lot more information is public or shared in this country: Property transfers are public and publicized; those who apply to own in New York City co-op are asked to give a lot of personal information, including clubs they belong to and what foundations they support.

McClodagh had worked in advertising agencies and did freelance work for the English Tourist Board (now called “VisitEngland”). After coming to America, she and her husband rented for a while before deciding to buy their first house, on Harbor Road. At one point, they lived in Hong Kong for two years, then returned to Darien.

The experience of buying their first house wasn’t so jarring that she didn’t become attracted to the real estate field, and she later got her license and has been selling homes in town ever since. She works for Berkshire Hathaway New England Properties in Darien.

She and her husband raised their three children here, all of them going through Darien public schools, and she’s taught swimming at the YMCA and worked as a docent at The Glass House in New Canaan. She’s also volunteered at Person-to-Person and is a member of the Darien Brit Group.

“When I first came to town, I wrote an article for the Darien News-Review along the same lines” as the Irish Times article, McCoole said. She wrote the Irish Times article after that newspaper approached her, she said.

McCoole says her English friends describe similar adjustments to America’s real estate ways, and she’s sure people from many other cultures have adjustments to make when buying in this country.

“If there’s someone of Irish extraction or European who’s looking, I’m happy to help,” she said. “If I can bridge the cultural divide, I’m happy to do that.”


See also:

Darien & Rowayton Real Estate Reports:

Darien home sales:

2 thoughts on “How an Expat Here Uses Darien Examples to Describe America’s Exotic Real Estate Culture to Irish Back Home

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