Down Under diaries
Almost 80,000 Irish people have moved to Australia since 2008. Has it lived up to their expectations? And will they come back?
I want to meet my sisters’ new boyfriends, and all my cousins’ and friends’ new babies, and see the older ones grow into little divils. I want to see my friends and shop in A|wear and give out about the roads. I’m Irish, and no visa or passport or time zone is going to change that.
We’ve slowly come to the realisation that we’re not going to get home within two years, or four years. We’ll get home eventually, but while we are here we’ll enjoy it, and save as much as we can.
Musician and songwriter. From Ballymun, in Dublin. Now lives in Robina, in Queensland, with his wife, Mags, and 15-year-old daughter, Georgia
The Gold Coast is an oasis of tropical bliss; a mix of old and modern. A mini Miami.
I was the bassist and songwriter with Aslan. I felt my time was done with the band, and it was becoming a bit of a groundhog day for me. I was only 46, and I was never going to retire and be a pipe-and-slippers man. Since the Celtic Tiger I felt that what Ireland had gained in wealth it had lost in soul, and I started to wonder what else might be out there for my kid.
So, in 2007, we sold up in Ireland, against everyone’s advice. Now everyone thinks we saw the writing on the wall, but we didn’t. Our house had already lost €100,000 in value, so we actually thought we were selling at a bad time. But it meant we were able to start over here mortgage-free.
We looked at Sydney and Brisbane before we took a look at the Gold Coast, and I’m very glad we did.
It’s all about the outdoors here: festivals of all descriptions, water sports, camping, fishing trips, markets, live music, arts, boot camps every morning for the over-60s, free yoga on the beach. Just about everything you can think of.
Irish people can get a huge shock on moving here, because there is not much culture. But the lifestyle is second to none.
I gave up the music completely, and worked as a courier, when we came here first, but now I play a couple of gigs a week. The rest of the time is about my family. I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to live here, in a safe, hot, beautiful country where it is all about easy living. The constant sunshine is nature’s antidepressant.
But it’s not all a bed of roses. The cost of living has nearly doubled since we arrived. The people are very, very different from the Irish. I miss the natural banter and warmth of the Irish. I have some amazing Aussie friends, but it took time.
My advice to anyone, especially families, making the move is to know what lifestyle you want and then decide where to live. Work out your budget and then add 30 per cent. Remember you will have no real support network for the guts of two years, and that’s a toughie.
And eat as much white pudding, Superquinn sausages, batch bread and Tayto as you can stomach before you leave.
Orthopaedic nurse, Mater Private Hospital, Sydney. From Co Mayo. Now lives in Mosman, in Sydney, with her husband, Bryck, and daughters, eight-year-old Hannah and seven-year-old Meghan
Mosman is like a really good-looking boyfriend who has lots of money and never lets you down. It’s not always the most exciting of places, but it’s not going to disappoint you.
My husband, Bryck, is Australian, but he moved to Ireland 12 years ago, and we had made a life there. If the crash hadn’t happened we would still be there.
In 2008 I was working as a nurse at Castlebar hospital on a temporary contract and Bryck was commuting between Mayo and Dublin. I went in to work one morning and was told that five temporary nurses were being let go that day with no notice. My job was gone. It took us another two years to leave.
Leaving was the most emotionally draining thing I ever had to do. I feel bad for my parents, because my girls are their only grandchildren. I read the papers at home and I see stuff about “lifestyle emigration”. I don’t feel we are lifestyle emigrants, even though we have a very good life here, because I feel our choice to go back is gone. We’re not twentysomethings with no dependents.
I don’t talk about the future any more. I never thought I would be moving to Australia. Now I think life throws you curve balls, and you can’t plan for forever.
Bryck thinks about going back. I just don’t know. Somebody told me it takes seven years to think of a new country as home, and I’m halfway there. I think the girls and their schooling will dictate where we go in the long term.
The best moments are little things such as picking the kids up from school and being able to go straight to the beach. When we moved over here we made a decision that we were going to live somewhere that was close to everything this lifestyle could offer us. We wanted the beach, the city and a village feel, and we have that in Mosman.
I miss all my family and friends. I miss the subtleties of Irish humour; people don’t always get you, here. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, and he’s doing well now. Those are the worst times. I think about the day I’m going to get a call, and I’ll be at the other side of the world.
News journalist, ABC NewsRadio. From Sligo. Now lives in Waterloo, Sydney