I've been living in Carlow for over 12 years. Prior to moving here I was in Milan for about 3 years. I've lived in other big cities, but I grew up away from towns and cities in the Irish countryside.
At times living in a small town can be a pain.
But at other times you find that there are some amazing differences between a small community and a big city. When I lived in Madrid in the mid-90s I used to do my grocery shopping in the same supermarket all the time. The staff weren't rude, but they were far from friendly. They'd never bother showing even the slightest sign of recognition that you were a "regular".
In a small town like Carlow, however, it's a completely different story.
Today I had a few small experiences that underlined that.
My sister's fiancé gave me a zippo lighter for Christmas two years ago, so I needed to get some flints. The tobacconist didn't have any flints, as they were out of stock, so they gave me a few they happened to have lying around and refused to take any money from me.
Later in the afternoon I was buying some clothes but they needed to be adjusted slightly. As they've done in the past, they'll drop the finished goods off with one of my neighbours, as they have to drive past there on their way home in the evening.
I also dropped in to a local butcher on my way back home. It was towards the end of the day so when I went to pay they didn't have change and simply asked me to drop in the balance the next time I was there. Amazing. (Admittedly I did manage to scrounge together enough coins to cover the full amount, but they wouldn't have been bothered if I hadn't)
It would be very hard to have those kind of experiences in a big city. It might happen, but it's not that likely.
It's when I reflect on little things like this that I see the upside to living in a small provincial Irish town.
Does it still frustrate me? Sure. But it's not without its upside.