“It’s definitely worth going beyond Munich, Berlin or Hamburg”


Founded by the Celts and conquered by the Romans, Trier is an amalgamation of ancient cultures and new Germany, located close to the Franco-Luxembourg border.

With a gift for languages, Seanán Ó Coistín is well placed in the small German town in the heart of Europe.

“I learned a love of languages ​​from my family. My father is from the Gaeltacht in Waterford – yes there is, while my grandfather’s first language was Irish and he spoke a Roughly English.

After a decade in Central Europe, Ó Coistín added French, German, Spanish and Portuguese to his tally – with more or less fluency. “My German is progressing well. I love communicating with the locals in their native language and they really appreciate it. Obviously, not everyone in Germany is fluent in English, although many understand it.

Originally from Kilcock in North Kildare, Ó Coistín attended Scoil Chearbhaill Uí Dhálaigh in Leixlip, where he found a love of Irish, then moved to Scoil Uí Riada and Maynooth Post-Primary School.

“From 1999 to 2004 I went to the University of Limerick and graduated with a BA in history, politics and social studies, followed by a management course in Belfast.” But the lure of Irish was strong and between 2006 and 2007 he completed a Higher Diploma in Irish Language and Translation at Carna in Connemara.

In the late 2000s, when the recession hit, Ó Coistín said opportunities for Irish history experts were slim in the field, so he applied for a position as an Irish language translator and proofreader in Luxembourg.

“I got a job at the Publications Office of the European Union, where I proofread the Official Journal of the European Union in Irish and English as well as other material such as manuals, brochures and websites in Irish and English.”

He returned home in 2015, to work as an Irish language development officer in Galway and attended a business innovation course at Trinity College Dublin before returning to Luxembourg to take up a job as a translator. “This time I worked in the European Parliament, translating laws, declarations and other texts from English and French into the Irish language.

“EU laws must be translated into official EU languages. For legal reasons, every EU citizen should be able to read the law in their language and Irish is the first language of Ireland,” notes Ó Coistín.

In 2021, during the pandemic, a position for a press officer for Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, appeared. “I have translated press releases into French and distributed them in English, French and German to over 1,200 journalists around the world. It was fun to watch press releases from my dining room table become front-page stories on newspapers like RTÉ and Euronews. The press releases I sent covered economic, social, trade, financial and environmental statistics in the EU.”

Although he works in Luxembourg, Ó Coistín moved in 2017 to the German city of Trier, 40 minutes away by train.

“It’s not uncommon for people from border towns to choose to live in Germany, because it’s much cheaper. I found an apartment in the middle of the old town, over 100m², with several rooms, a balcony, storage rooms, a cellar and lots of space for €880 per month, and just over €1,000 heating included. Before leaving Luxembourg, I paid €875 for a room in a house for seven people.

Ó Coistín says working from home inspired him to focus on a business idea he’s been developing for a few years. “I founded a boxer brand buachail.com – referring to ‘young man’ in Irish.”

“I wanted it to be Irish made, with a strong Irish identity, but we don’t have a lot of boxer makers in Ireland. I am currently developing the brand and selling in Ireland, but also in countries in Europe and North America. »

Germany offers a good base for a start-up, he adds. “I’m not far from home and surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. When the family comes to visit us, they are always amazed by the beauty of Germany. Trier is a small city of just over 100,000 inhabitants. It is very picturesque and pleasant. There are so many small towns here in the region, which are beautiful. The Moselle and Sarre rivers and the mangroves that border them are magnificent. Definitely worth going beyond Munich, Berlin or Hamburg and seeing the countryside.

Plus, he says, and it might surprise people, but Germans are “funny and definitely not boring.”

“I don’t know why they have such a reputation that suggests otherwise,” he says.

With a high quality of life in Germany, Ó Coistín enjoys living there. “I am happy in Germany. It’s so central and if I want to go to France or Luxembourg I could do that. My younger sister and her husband and their two children live in Luxembourg, so I see them often and it’s great to spend time together. On the other hand, the Germans can’t pronounce my name, but that’s to be expected.

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