‘I miss Ireland but the things I miss most are long gone’
Generation Emigration ‘Ireland and Me’: Catherine Yigit, Turkey
Catherine Yigit: ‘I spent a good number of my early years feeling caught between here and there, critiquing one culture against the other.’
“Do you miss Ireland?” asked the teacher. And for a moment I was silent within the flow of gossip from the parents in the canteen around me.
I miss Ireland but the things I miss most are long gone. That’s not just because I left the country for good 13 years ago. Even if I was still living in Clontarf I’d miss these things:
Summer holidays down the country, which encompassed Schull or Louisburgh or Castlegregory or Creeslough and anywhere in between. The excitement of sitting in the car as my father packed the boot, cursing under his breath in his effort to fit in tennis rackets, suitcases, swimming gear, and books, looking completely befuddled when Mam would arrive out later with a box full of salt, pepper, jams and cornflakes. The long, long drive in the days before motorways followed by the shouts of “I can see the se-ea” when we finally came close. Exploring our new house, ours for two glorious or rain-soaked weeks and being somewhere new.
Jump a decade or so, and waking to the sound of church bells peeling out across the centre of Dublin. Heading to Bewley’s for a fry. Gorgeous rashers and sausages and black and white pudding, washed down with hot milky tea. Mouth-watering, the flavours breaking through the morning-after-the-night-before feeling. And what a night it would have been, sitting chatting in a quiet pub or squashed like sardines in a noisy one or dancing away in a since-renamed nightclub or even all three. I’m skipping the Christmas mornings, the family gatherings and the summer picnics.
I’ve left out listening to Morning Ireland for the daily tally of violence in the North, the sense of inertia that greeted every new idea, and the broadening scale of the pedophilia scandals. Things that hopefully are left in the past.
I miss the people who filled these moments, the sound of their voices, their laughter. Some are still there at home, the younger ones now parents with growing families; the older ones, changed in ways the migrant cannot fully know. Some are gone, scattered around the globe on their own adventures, my sister included. A few, precious few thankfully, are dead.
And what am I now? Am I a Turk? Well I have the pink ID card, the Turkish husband and two Turkish-born children. Am I Irish? Yes, but I am embedded in another culture, I live in another language.
I spent a good number of my early years feeling caught between here and there, critiquing one culture against the other. Religion different but attitudes similar, family equally important but tighter-knit here, beaches better there… the list went on. In the end, I learned to accept each as being unique, shaped by different influences, heading in different directions.
But explaining all this to a virtual stranger is difficult and tends to lead to glazed eyes and startled looks. So I answered, “Yes, I do miss Ireland.”
This article was submitted as an entry to the Generation Emigration ‘Ireland and Me’ competition, which is now closed. For more ‘Ireland and Me’ stories, click here.