Ciara Kenny

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

Missing out on Christmas in Ireland

We’ll be trying to recreate the elements of an Irish Christmas Down Under but it won’t be the same, writes Fee Kennedy

Sun, Dec 22, 2013, 17:00


Fee Kennedy

I have started to develop a very poetic view of Ireland. I have always loved my hometown of Dublin and when we first left five years ago it was for the experience of going somewhere new for a year. We were never eager to leave Ireland or get away from it. Ireland was home.

While we were road tripping across America we got talking to lots of Americans who were “Eye-rish” and were eager to show us how much they knew about St Patrick and Blarney Stone. We took it all as a bit of a laugh and would comment that Americans are nuts. But every time we saw an Irish flag we would point it out to each other, secretly pleased that so many people were especially enamoured with out little island.

When we got to Australia, we didn’t experience the barrage of Irish people that everyone was talking about. We lived in St Kilda for the first six months, and while you would hear Irish accents the odd time, it certainly wasn’t the chorus of the brogue that I was expecting. This was perfectly fine with us. If we wanted to be surrounded by Irish we would have stayed at home. That’s not to say we avoiding our fellow countrymen, but we just wanted to meet anybody that was up for a laugh. We were conscious that didn’t want to be clannish and alienate ourselves from others.

As such we had an even mix of Scots, Taffys, Poms, Aussies and Irish. We were here about two years before we got especially friendly with a group of Irish people. But when we did I was reminded of why Irish folk are some of the best in the world. The craic, the banter, songs, the stories, the memories. These weren’t people I knew growing up, nor did we have any mutual friends – most aren’t even from Dublin – but we all had the same memories from our childhood. Only an Irishman would remember Pajo’s junkbox or when Podge was mean to Zig. Only Irish folk can tell a story that can include the words “so after mass…..” without anyone thinking it was strange.

I find myself telling people about Ireland more and more in the last year. I am proud of home and I want to share it with those around me. When I am chatting to my Australian friends I am eager to tell them about Ireland – our stories, our traditions, our way of doing things. I work with a guy from Cork and always ensure I include the fáda in his name and sign off with a “slán go fóill.” I will stop to watch something relating to Ireland on television no matter how small (though we do draw the line at Mrs Brown’s Boys!) While I still avoid Irish bars like the plague, I wouldn’t be opposed to going to a good ballad session.

As for the country itself, I know I am looking at it through rose tinted glasses because distance makes the heart grow fonder. But as Christmas approaches and I see photos of the lights on Grafton Street and updates on Facebook about The Late Late Toy Show, I have an ache in my heart knowing I am missing out on it all. So I will call up my Irish friends and we will go on a 12 Pubs of Christmas tour (might even throw in a Bridie O’ Reilly’s or PJ O’ Brien’s for good measure) and at the end of the night when we are back at someone’s house we will sing Fairytale of New York at the top of our lungs until we lose our voices and we will be a little closer to home.