In the autumn of 2001 I'd gotten a job at a restaurant in Kilkenny. The chef asked me to get a tax number. Being American, I didn't expect one, but I had to go ask so that I could say I'd tried.
In the middle of 2010, my time in Ireland began to come to an end....
Instead, I got a PPS number a Personal Public Service number. A tax number.
I worked various jobs until the summer of 2003.
That summer, I left Ireland until January of 2005.
When I returned, I visited the office of FÁS, the national employment agency.
They told me to go to the social welfare office.
I did so. To my great surprise, they put me on social-welfare payments.
I remained unemployed or underemployed for almost all of the next six years.