‘Homesickness was a better option than years on the dole at home’
All the Lonely People: Construction worker in Manchester who only sees his son twice a month
‘I hate the constant driving, hours on the M6 stuck in traffic, long working hours, and the fact that you can’t call a rasher a rasher.’
On 26th February 2011 (every emigrant remembers the date they left) I jumped on a flight to Manchester. It was a huge move for me, as I have always loved home. I had graduated just the week before, and was now following the journey my uncles had made in the 80s, and my great uncle had made in the 60s. The recurring theme for our family has always been to “get the boat” because “the lads have you a start beyond”.
I have seen countless neighbours, friends, cousins and uncles all take a flight to do a stint in Manchester. Some of them have loved it, but to be honest, I have never taken to the place. My time here is always spent on a constant countdown to my weekend at home.
I have tried everything to abate the feeling of homesickness, but even though I am surrounded by extended family and Irish people in general (we have a monopoly on the construction industry here), I still feel claustrophobic living in this big city. A combination of all these factors contributes to my homesickness, but there is one thing I miss above all, and that’s the people I love. My son only sees me twice a month, usually when I’ve driven through the night to get the 2.30am ferry from Holyhead. He has a great outlook on life, that “daddy’s digging holes in England to get me money”. This is true to an extent, and I like to think I am achieving something here by utilising the strong Sterling/Euro exchange rate and saving for our future at home.
Next February I will have “five years in a senior management role” to add to my CV. This is when my “stint” here will be done. The hard work, long hours, weekend working, missed occasions, and letting people down because of the job will all have been worth it I hope.
Enda Kenny speaks of bringing us home, this generation of Celtic cubs who enjoyed the boom but then paid the price when it was uncovered how much of a mess our great little country was in. I have heard people say that the people who left didn’t stick it out, but I am convinced a few years of homesickness would have been better than a certain four to five years on the dole at home.
I look forward to re-writing my CV, to getting home, being with loved ones and most importantly to not hear “great to see you doing well, when are you going back?”.
Former Irish president Mary McAleese once said: “The immigrants heart marches to the beat of two different drums, one from the old homeland and one from the new.” I think my heart only beats for home.