Ciara Kenny

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

‘I try not to think of Ireland as home anymore’

We have wonderful memories of Ireland, but my family and I will not be moving back. Kansas is where we call home now, writes Colm Roughan.

Mon, Aug 27, 2012, 09:58


We have wonderful memories of Ireland, but my family and I will not be moving back. Kansas is where we call home now, writes Colm Roughan.

Colm and family

In January 2008 when my son was born, little did my wife or I know that four years later he would be sporting an American accent and telling his parents that the footpath is a sidewalk.

An opportunity came up for us to settle in a place called Leawood, Kansas just over a year ago. The travel that my job required and being away continually were putting a huge strain on our marriage and my relationship with my son.

Kansas is a place that raises eyebrows when old friends from home ask where you are living. But having been here on assignment for eight months prior to moving permanently, we knew it was where we wanted to settle. My wife and son had joined me here initially to see what it was like and despite a few bumps along the road, we have settled in surprisingly well.

My wife and I knew the move was the best thing for our son, and for our own happiness. We were very lucky that both our families supported us in making the change. Given the nature of the move, our relocation package and all that went with it was something that we could not have managed without – from the team (including my amazing in-laws) who literally packed up our house in Dublin to the team who unloaded everything and set it all up here.

We had to start from scratch; buying a car, renting an apartment, establishing a credit record, and completing all the paperwork that goes with moving to a new country. A hot summer and good social life with evenings after work spent at the pool made setting in easier – things we had never believed would be possible.

We made one trip to Ireland in August 2011. It was spent between Dublin, Donegal and Cork visiting family and friends. We found a changed Ireland even in the short space of time that we had been away: businesses had closed, and a country that had once been so full of hope was now in the depths of gloom.

When it was time to return to our life here, we privately admitted we were glad neither of our families came to Dublin airport to wave us off. We haven’t been back to Ireland since and are not sure when our next trip will be.

In November we made the big move to the house of our dreams, and the dread of being abroad for Christmas that most people who have emigrated fear was largely dissipated. For the first time, our Christmas wasn’t divided between relations and in-laws. We missed it but not as much as we had thought. Our furniture arrived intact and we began the process of finally settling in.

One of the things that drew me to here was the absolute friendliness of people. I had been coming here on business for a number of years and I always found it so refreshing that people took time to say hello and upon realizing you were Irish made sure to let you know about their ancestry. Our neighbors are amazing and have quickly ensured we are part of their social circle.

Winters are what we would call a proper winter, generally with snow, and consistently low (below freezing) temperatures. Spring sees balmy weather for a number of months and summer becomes hot and on occasion very humid. Pools, an abundance of parks and an outdoor life make this time of the year as well as the Autumn enjoyable.

On occasion we do miss home, and spending time with family and friends. Being with my father, going to rugby matches, family get-togethers, noisy dinner parties and visiting my 101 year old grandmother are memories that I will always have.

I try not to think of Ireland as home anymore – it’s where we have memories of growing up, and our family and friends are there, but we have a lifestyle and a standard of living here that makes us want to call Kansas our home.

We pinch ourselves from time to time to remind ourselves how grateful and lucky we are. Sometimes we ask ourselves – could we go back? I don’t think so.

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