An emigrant writes: Australia is home for now . . . but I want my kids to grow up in Ireland

Mon, Mar 19, 2012, 00:00

I PROPOSED to my girlfriend last year on Bronte Beach. I was turning 30 and her parents were about to arrive out from Ireland so it felt to me like everything was lining up for me to ask her hand in marriage. Either that or it crossed my mind that she’d surely waited long enough after seven years, and the usual lines “Sure I have no money” and “What’s the rush in settling down?” were getting old.

So after getting down on one knee after what was quite an elaborate set up involving numerous roses, hand-drawn maps, iPod playlists and a champagne picnic, we got engaged on what was a perfect day near our new home in Sydney.

Our conversation over the following half hour involved when we would have the wedding, where it would be and our plans for life after that. I had usually only ever thought as far ahead as the next weekend so it was all a bit mad to be discussing our plans so far into the future.

I have worked mainly in IT and my fiancée is a qualified nurse. We both lived and worked in Belfast before we left Ireland in 2009. We were not forced to leave because of the global financial crisis.

I’m really enjoying my work and have been lucky in that I’ve been able to make plenty of friends as the eastern suburbs of Sydney must surely contain the fastest growing Irish community in the world at the minute. The social scene is also fantastic, and we are never stuck for things to do.

I find it sad to read about people not being able to go home. Two couples close to us left Australia for good last month and others are planning to do the same next year.

Australia is a fantastic place which is offering people wonderful opportunities but ultimately for some, the lure of home can conquer all those fears regarding employment and saying goodbye to wonderful weather and beaches. I think a few years down the line I will be the same.

For me, nothing will compensate for the friends’ weddings I’ve missed, the birth of my niece, the Championship days out in Croke Park with Dad, RTÉ punditry, proper pork sausages, those super long summer days, and coming in the door to the folks on a Friday evening.

I want my kids to grow up running around with their cousins. I want Mum to be able to do the free babysitting and spoil them like my grandmother did me. I want them to have an Irish upbringing in our wonderful country like I did, as I loved every minute of it.


This article was originally posted on Generation Emigration, the Irish Times blog for – and by – emigrants. irishtimes.com/ generationemigration