Generation Emigration

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

“I couldn’t put my finger on why I was going”

Anna Byrne battled the floods six weeks ago to move to Berlin in search of something different.

Tue, Dec 6, 2011, 18:04

   

Anna Byrne battled the floods six weeks ago to move to Berlin in search of something different.

I left Ireland on October 25th 2011 after several months of deliberation. Yes, the ticket was booked a few weeks before, but I still couldn’t really put my finger on why I was going. No money? Sure, but I never made good money in the boom – it always seemed to be around the next corner, and I spent 2005 until 2008 in college. I graduated just around the time the house of cards crumbled. The best money I ever made was working in a 5 star hotel at the height of it all 8 years ago, when I was still in my teens.

So, was it for better prospects? But I know people in Cork who are involved in the arts in Cork, setting up studio spaces, galleries and workshops without any funding from the Arts Council or any other body. And maybe, without wanting to admit it, I like Ireland. Maybe, for all my complaining, I like feeling at home, being at home. It’s my place. I know the humour, the nuances. I know the language, but I know it in other ways; culturally, socially. So why did I want to go to Germany, to a language I hadn’t a clue of?

With a growing sentimentality, I left Cork on Monday 24th October. If I wanted a fond farewell of Ireland, I was to be disappointed.
My first mistake was getting the bus. At 4 ½ hours, it’s my idea of hell. But I was the worse for wear, shall I put it delicately, and went along with my boyfriend’s assurances of it being more economically viable than the train.

All was well until we were just a few miles outside the capital. The rain had been getting heavier. The bus was silent. No radio to give an indication of what was going on. We sat there for an hour, slowly crawling along behind a trail of red tail lights. Finally we came to the impasse – a huge body of water. On the far side of the motorway, the water had become a heavy stream into a garage.

We continued on, but at the Red Cow were stalled again. This time people were up in their seats, looking out the windows. By the time we all abandoned the bus, leaving the bus driver to fend for himself, we had been sitting on it for 6 ½ hours. We walked past dozens of cars. Solitary drivers sat staring straight ahead, or clustered at the bonnet, arms folded. Other cars had been abandoned. Up ahead, another flood. Dublin on the other side.

The only way was through it, so I took off my shoes, and a kind man offered to carry my very overweight bag. The water was too deep on the road so we got onto the Luas track and waded. We got to the stop, and a Luas, only to find that the Luas was stopping at Blackhorse. We took a brief respite in the pub, assured buses were running into the city. They were not. Wet and cold, we hailed a taxi which took us to Heuston – it couldn’t go any further. We walked to Smithfield and finally collapsed into bed at 1am.
I might have a point here, but I still can’t fully decipher what it is. Maybe that I was wading, through freezing water, across roads and a tram line that have cost millions upon millions. Maybe the fact that I paid for the bus, the luas, the taxi, and none of them could get me where they were supposed to. Maybe because our capital city shuts down when there is heavy rain. I couldn’t help but feel the symbolism. On a bus, trying to get somewhere but going nowhere. The capital, under water, and me coughing up to get what I didn’t want. A guard we asked for help summed it up. What are the roads to the airport like, we asked. ‘I don’t know’, he said. ‘And I don’t care.’
I did. I was on that road at 5am the next morning. Abandoned cars littered the M50. My sentimentality left me. Yes, I know the language and nuances of Ireland, but they feel lost to me in a fog of complacency. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t in Ireland anymore.
I´m now starting into my sixth week in Berlin. The last two winters in Ireland have somewhat readied me for the increasing cold I am beginning to feel. Although a bike has helped, I am still getting to grips with a city this big. The language is coming along, as is (hopefully) a job. I´m subletting an apartment until early December, so house hunting is high on the list. So far, so good.

Anna Byrne completed a BA in Film and TV at GMIT in 2008. Since then she has focussed on making short films and documentaries, and working in theatre in Cork. She has moved to Berlin in the hope of working and experiencing another European city.

I left Ireland on October 25th 2011 after several months of deliberation. Yes, the ticket was booked a
few weeks back, but I still couldn’t really put my finger on why I was going. No money? Sure, but I
never made good money in the boom – it always seemed to be around the next corner, and I spent
2005 until 2008 in college. I graduated just around the time the house of cards crumbled. The best
money I ever made was working in a 5 star hotel at the height of it all 8 years ago, when I was still in
my teens.
So, was it for better prospects? But I know people in Cork who are involved in the arts in Cork,
setting up studio spaces, galleries and workshops without any funding from the Arts Council or any
other body. And maybe, without wanting to admit it, I like Ireland. Maybe, for all my complaining, I
like feeling at home, being at home. It’s my place. I know the humour, the nuances. I know the
language, but I know it in other ways; culturally, socially. So why did I want to go to Germany, to a
language I hadn’t a clue of?
With a growing sentimentality, I left Cork on Monday 24th October. If I wanted a fond farewell of
Ireland, I was to be disappointed.
My first mistake was getting the bus. At 4and ½ hours, it’s my idea of hell. But I was the worse for
wear, shall I put it delicately, and went along with my boyfriends assurances of it being more
economically viable than the train.
All was well until we were just a few miles outside the capital. The rain had been getting heavier. The
bus was silent. No radio to give an indication of what was going on. We sat there for an hour, slowly
crawling along behind a trail of red tail lights. Finally we came to the impasse – a huge body of
water. On the far side of the motorway, the water had become a heavy stream into a garage.
We continued on, but at the red cow were stalled again. This time people were up in their sits,
looking out the windows. By the time we all abandoned the bus, leaving the bus driver to fend for
himself, we had been sitting on it for 6 and ½ hours.
We walked past dozens of cars. Solitary drivers sat staring straight ahead, or clustered at the bonnet,
arms folded. Other cars had been abandoned. Up ahead, another flood. Dublin on the other side.
The only way was through it, so I took off my shoes, and a kind man offered to carry my very
overweight bag. The water was too deep on the road so we got onto the Luas track and waded. We
got to the stop, and a Luas, only to find that the Luas was stopping at Blackhorse. We took a brief
respite in the pub, assured buses were running into the city. They were not. Wet and cold, we hailed
a taxi which took us to Heuston – it couldn’t go any further. We walked to Smithfield and finally
collapsed into bed at 1am.
I might have a point here, but I still can’t fully decipher what it is. Maybe that I was wading, through
freezing water, across roads and a tram line that have cost millions upon millions. Maybe the fact
that I paid for the bus, the luas, the taxi, and none of them could get me where they were supposed
to. Maybe because our capital city shuts down when there is heavy rain. I couldn’t help but feel the
symbolism. On a bus, trying to get somewhere but going nowhere. The capital, under water, and me
coughing up to get what I didn’t want. A guard we asked for help summed it up. What are the roads
to the airport like, we asked. ‘I don’t know’, he said. ‘And I don’t care.’
I did. I was on that road at 5am the next morning. Abandoned cars littered the M50. My
sentimentality left me. Yes, I know the language and nuances of Ireland, but they feel lost to me in a
fog of complacency. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t in Ireland anymore.
I´m now starting into my third week in Berlin. The last two winters in Ireland have somewhat readied
me for the increasing cold I am beginning to feel. Although a bike has helped, I am still getting to
grips with a city this big. The language is coming along, as is (hopefully) a job. I´m subletting an
apartment until early December, so house hunting is high on the list. So far, so good.
Anna Byrne completed a BA in Film and TV at GMIT in 2008. Since then she has focussed on making
short films and documentaries, and working in theatre in Cork city. She has moved to Berlin in the
hope of working and experiencing another European city.I left Ireland on October 25th 2011 after several months of deliberation. Yes, the ticket was booked a few weeks back, but I still couldn’t really put my finger on why I was going. No money? Sure, but I never made good money in the boom – it always seemed to be around the next corner, and I spent
2005 until 2008 in college. I graduated just around the time the house of cards crumbled. The best money I ever made was working in a 5 star hotel at the height of it all 8 years ago, when I was still in my teens.

So, was it for better prospects? But I know people in Cork who are involved in the arts in Cork, setting up studio spaces, galleries and workshops without any funding from the Arts Council or any other body. And maybe, without wanting to admit it, I like Ireland. Maybe, for all my complaining, I like feeling at home, being at home. It’s my place. I know the humour, the nuances. I know the language, but I know it in other ways; culturally, socially. So why did I want to go to Germany, to a language I hadn’t a clue of?

With a growing sentimentality, I left Cork on Monday 24th October. If I wanted a fond farewell of Ireland, I was to be disappointed. My first mistake was getting the bus. At 4and ½ hours, it’s my idea of hell. But I was the worse for wear, shall I put it delicately, and went along with my boyfriends assurances of it being more economically viable than the train.

All was well until we were just a few miles outside the capital. The rain had been getting heavier. The bus was silent. No radio to give an indication of what was going on. We sat there for an hour, slowly crawling along behind a trail of red tail lights. Finally we came to the impasse – a huge body of water. On the far side of the motorway, the water had become a heavy stream into a garage.

We continued on, but at the red cow were stalled again. This time people were up in their sits, looking out the windows. By the time we all abandoned the bus, leaving the bus driver to fend for himself, we had been sitting on it for 6 and ½ hours.

We walked past dozens of cars. Solitary drivers sat staring straight ahead, or clustered at the bonnet, arms folded. Other cars had been abandoned. Up ahead, another flood. Dublin on the other side.

The only way was through it, so I took off my shoes, and a kind man offered to carry my very overweight bag. The water was too deep on the road so we got onto the Luas track and waded. We got to the stop, and a Luas, only to find that the Luas was stopping at Blackhorse. We took a brief respite in the pub, assured buses were running into the city. They were not. Wet and cold, we hailed a taxi which took us to Heuston – it couldn’t go any further. We walked to Smithfield and finally collapsed into bed at 1am.

I might have a point here, but I still can’t fully decipher what it is. Maybe that I was wading, through freezing water, across roads and a tram line that have cost millions upon millions. Maybe the fact that I paid for the bus, the luas, the taxi, and none of them could get me where they were supposed
to. Maybe because our capital city shuts down when there is heavy rain. I couldn’t help but feel the symbolism. On a bus, trying to get somewhere but going nowhere. The capital, under water, and me coughing up to get what I didn’t want. A guard we asked for help summed it up. What are the roads to the airport like, we asked. ‘I don’t know’, he said. ‘And I don’t care.’

I did. I was on that road at 5am the next morning. Abandoned cars littered the M50. My sentimentality left me. Yes, I know the language and nuances of Ireland, but they feel lost to me in a
fog of complacency. Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t in Ireland anymore.

I´m now starting into my sixth week in Berlin. The last two winters in Ireland have somewhat readied me for the increasing cold I am beginning to feel. Although a bike has helped, I am still getting to grips with a city this big. The language is coming along, as is (hopefully) a job. I´m subletting an apartment until early December, so house hunting is high on the list. So far, so good.

Anna Byrne completed a BA in Film and TV at GMIT in 2008. Since then she has focussed on making short films and documentaries, and working in theatre in Cork city. She has moved to Berlin in the hope of working and experiencing another European city.

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