‘What I miss most about Ireland are the things I took for granted’
‘Ireland and Me’: Philip Lynch, Tasmania, Australia
Philip Lynch: ‘Australia, warts and all is home. Deep down I don’t think I’ve ever seriously entertained the idea of going back to live in Ireland. I’m more able to openly admit this now that my parents are no longer alive.’
Last November, The Irish Times invited readers abroad to submit reflections on their relationship with the land they left. The story below is one of the stories we received, which is collected in a new 'Ireland and Me' eBook.
What I miss most about living in Ireland are the little things I once took for granted.
By this I mean the ordinary everyday stuff. Like the landscape where I grew up in unremarkable rural Westmeath. Long summer evenings that stretched into the night. Soda bread. I miss the stillness of the bog on a midsummer’s day when we were tending turf. And, of course I miss Christmas in winter.
And then there’s the small matter of the remnants of the family I’ve left behind. There are cousins I no longer know and funerals of so many aunts and uncles I can’t attend. But beyond all, that I have to concede I’m happy enough here in Australia.
What I don’t miss is the economic nihilism I felt before I left back in the early 1980s. And I’m frankly grateful now that I’m well away from aftermath of the bailout and the massive debt that continues to loom large over the Irish economy. But what I do miss is the humour and the dry ironic wit that pervades so much of everyday Irish life.
I’ve spent the last 30 years getting used to living in this massive continent that is Australia. It’s been a journey of subtle adjustments. I’ve driven the length and breadth of this mighty country and yet I’ve barely scratched its surface. And 30 years on, I’m still adjusting, still trying to make a go of it here. Sometimes I think we migrants have to try harder to succeed because we don’t have much to fall back on.
Australia, warts and all is home. Deep down I don’t think I’ve ever seriously entertained the idea of going back to live in Ireland. I’m more able to openly admit this now that my parents are no longer alive. Having made a go of things here I feel as if I owe some sort of favour to Australia and I’m not about to up stakes any time soon.
My old life in Ireland came to an abrupt stop the day I left. All of a sudden I had no need for my driver’s license, my motorbike and my bank account - or my wellies. All I really needed to leave was a resolve to go and start afresh half a world away.
So much has happened since I left Ireland. The crazy era of the Celtic Tiger has come and gone. The Good Friday Agreement has held. And of course the phenomenon of emigration and the notion of an Irish diaspora have entered the everyday lexicon.
It still feels a little unreal to be moving through my middle-age in Australia. It’s as if part of me isn’t really here at all. I’m still Irish, or at least part of me still is. But every morning I wake up to a brand new day in Australia and the longer I’m away, the more right it feels here, Down Under.
Philip Lynch lives in Tasmania and is a regular contributor to Generation Emigration. Read more of his articles here. For more ‘Ireland and Me’ stories, click here. The Irish Times eBook of selected entries is available for download here.