‘Emigration has been a theme in my family for generations’

‘Ireland and Me’: Caroline Duffy, Lanzarote

Caroline Duffy: ‘There’s something about the first sight of Poolbeg and the city waiting patiently in the distance which makes my stomach do somersaults of excitement.’

Caroline Duffy: ‘There’s something about the first sight of Poolbeg and the city waiting patiently in the distance which makes my stomach do somersaults of excitement.’

 

Despite having spent the last decade in Lanzarote, I know, in my heart, I still live in Ireland. It’s a strange feeling to have, after so many years away from home but in quiet moments, when I am alone with my thoughts, I always find myself drifting back, to walk the streets of Dublin in my mind.

Emigration has been a theme in my family for generations. My parents lived in England for many years, deciding to move home to Ireland when I was three. My grandfather spent most of his life in America and my aunt, uncle and cousins moved out there too when I was just a child.

So there was always the excitement of letters with interesting stamps from far off places and the sound of the distance in telephone calls, as we waited for our words to travel across the earth, in a time before satellite communication.

Nowadays, between my two brothers, my sister and I, there are three of us living abroad. Luckily Skype has revolutionised what it means to stay in touch. I can sit at the kitchen table, back in Dublin, every day with Mum and Dad and catch up on what’s going on or have a late night cupán tae with my sister in Sydney.

As wonderful as this may be though, nothing can take away the heavy hearted feeling of the long walk between the entrance of Dublin Airport and the farewell area at the departure gates on the day you have to leave. My family has cried more times than I care to remember at those gates, and every time I see my father make his way back through the crowds towards the exit, wiping his eyes as he goes, my heart breaks just a little bit more.

I am lucky to have always had work in Lanzarote, to have made wonderful friends. I live in a tiny rural village, and feel lucky to have had the opportunity to experience authentic Lanzarote life. But for me, nothing in the world can beat boarding a plane, the thought of Dublin waiting just three and a half hours away dancing in my head.

You see, there’s something about the first sight of Poolbeg and the city waiting patiently in the distance which makes my stomach do somersaults of excitement. Going home to the house I grew up in, the familiar feel of the streets, the smell of hops and rain, the cosy coffee shops with friends, the tall handsome trees and the greenness of everything are things which never fail to delight me.

It’s undeniable that living abroad and travelling opens your mind and broadens your horizons, but as Joyce once said, “You think you’re escaping and run into yourself. The longest way round is the shortest way home.”

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