There’s no place like home: the young Irish who are happy to be here
On the eve of St Patrick’s Day, meet the young Irish people refusing to board the bandwagon of gloom. Buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm, they are building careers, gaining new skills and starting companies in a country they believe is full of potential. For these young Irish, despite everything, there’s no place like home
Staying power: Front row, left to right: Mark Griffin, Rebecca Winckworth, Dearbhla McGann, Ian Power;
Rory McInerney. Photograph: Alan Betson
Clare Herbert. Photograph: Alan Betson
Steve O'Donnell. Photograph: Alan Betson
Katie Tsouros, Rebecca Winckworth and Kate Dillon. Photograph: Alan Betson
Clare Herbert, 25
is a self-employed communications consultant and journalist. Originally from Kildare she lives in Dublin and blogs at clareherbert.com
Despite the doom and gloom, I love life in Ireland. I wish we were a little less angry and a little more proactive in how we deal with the problems we face. I tend to shield myself from some of the more depressing media coverage.
About 60 per cent of my friends have left. Most of them went voluntarily, looking for adventure and work opportunities.
Only a few felt they had to leave because employment prospects were bleak. I have worked abroad before but I consider myself lucky to have enough work to sustain myself here. The emotional pull to Ireland remains profound. I want to be at home, to live in the country where I was educated and to be a very small part of the solution to our grave national problems.
We have the opportunity to reimagine the kind of country we want to live in and that’s very exciting.
People I look up to . . . are Mary Robinson, for her humility and dedication, and Colm O’Gorman for his courage and honesty.
Steve O’Donnell, 24
has just moved to Dublin from Co Clare and is a graphic designer with Spin 1038 and 98FM. He also runs the creative agency All Out Design, and recently set up a designer toy company.
I love living in Ireland and I think people who complain about being here are lazy and pessimistic. I’ve had the best and most successful years of my life since the recession hit.
We have to stop being bogged down by economic troubles. The businesses closing are being replaced by small and more passionate enterprises and the ones that survive will be driven by this passion. I have thought about leaving, but I figured turning my back on all the connections and relationships I’ve built up here would be a huge disadvantage.
Despite all the negativity, I feel really good about this country. I take little interest in politics because the more I find out, the more I lose faith in what they are doing.
My plan is to stick on my path and forget everything else. They’ll continue to mess up at their end and I’ll continue to succeed at mine.
What brings me down is . . . people whose minds are closed to new ideas.
Cathal Reid, 24
is a secondary-school teacher in Limerick. He has lived and worked in Scotland, Australia and the US. He enjoys yoga, meditation, weight lifting and getting out of his comfort zone.
To me Ireland means fun, friends and fond memories. When I came back from Australia a few months ago I expected most of my friends to be unemployed and depressed, because that’s the picture that had been painted.
The truth is that all my friends are either working or still in education and, most importantly, they are content.
We have an amazing country, and although we are going through a tough time there are still huge opportunities here for people of all ages.
We have such little control of outside factors; but there is one thing we are in control of, and that’s our attitude to whatever circumstances we face.
Perspective is also important: less than 100 years ago Britain ruled us and outlawed our language. If we can overcome that, we can overcome anything.
My heroes are . . . my parents. I put them through so much pain and anguish in my younger years. Now I see how much they did for me, and how openminded and inspirational they are.
Kate Dillon, 23
lives in Dublin with her family and works full-time for Converse Ireland. She is also a co -founder of a footwear customisation business .
I am exactly where I want to be at this point in my life. I know I am very lucky to have a job and that there are lots of young people struggling to find employment who feel the only option is to leave. But we need fresh blood to drive business and entrepreneurship.
I recently heard about DCU’s New Start, which is a scheme to help start-ups, and I think there should be lots more initiatives like that.
The way I view Ireland is as a little green island populated by a fantastically talented, fun-loving, passionate set of individuals who have managed to create an environment where even the biggest multinationals want to be based. My generation has ambition, resilience and hope for the future.
I hope we nev er lose . . . the charm and character so many people travel here to experience
Brian Morrissey, 23
from Clonara, Co Clare, is an advertising intern in Dublin. He likes running, rugby and watching ‘The Sopranos’ .
There is an edge to life here. Everyone is on the move, either afraid of what tomorrow holds or excited by the prospects. Young people have a natural sense of optimism and, even with all the gloom, it shines through. I’ve travelled and lived away from home but I’ve never wanted to succeed anywhere else the same way I do here.
Of course I’ve been attracted by other places but then I look around me and I see this country offers as much as anywhere else in the world. Even if you live in Manhattan you can still stand on only one spot at a time and hang around with so many people. I’m really positive about the future of this country. I expect exceptional things. The greater the challenges, the greater the performance that is required to overcome them.
I have great respect for . . .Roy Keane, because when I was 12 I saw him tell all the other grown-ups that what they accepted was not good enough.
Tara Walsh, 23
availed of an internship scheme to land her job in a Dublin public relations company. She is interested in current affairs, live music and theatre.
A lot of us have had to do internships to get jobs. I t’s expected nowadays unless you are on a clear career path such as teaching or accounting. In my case it worked out and I got offered a full-time position. I feel lucky.
I don’t think I will ever leave Ireland permanently. Every time I go away I always think, ‘T his place is good but Ireland is much better .’ As a society, we have moved on in many fundamental ways and I’m glad I don’t live in the Ireland of decades ago.
There is a real solidarity among people my age because we all left college at a really difficult time. We’re hugely supportive of each other because we know how difficult it is to get a decent job.
I have huge respect for . . . Michael D Higgins. I know it’s a bit naff saying the President, but he represents us so well.
Rebecca Winckworth, 23
is a full-time musician. This month she released her debut solo EP and all proceeds will go towards her trip to India this summer where she will be volunteering with the Irish charity Suas.