I’m living the life in Bermuda, but constantly thinking of home
Dublin was a great place to start my first business and I’m looking forward to moving back
Travel broadens our horizons and it makes us more worldly. It satiates our desire for adventure and opens our eyes.
I’m three months into a year-long leave of absence from Ireland, seeing the world and working for Fairmont Hotels in Hamilton, Bermuda. I wait tables at their celebrity chef restaurant run by Marcus Samuellson, who has a huge following in the US.
Myself and my partner Ellie heard about the opportunity through a contact of ours in the hotel, and went through a rigorous interview process before being offered seasonal contracts and booking our flights.
Fairmont is one of the world’s largest hotel chains, employing over 40,000 people on five continents. I’m coming to the end of my four-month stay in Bermuda, a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic. Soon we’ll be heading for western Canada, to begin work at another hotel belonging to the chain. It will be a dramatic change of scenery and climate, as this time we’ll be working a ski season in the mountain resort of Whistler, near Vancouver.
I recently read an article on Generation Emigration written by a friend of mine Antony Wolfe, in which he shared his experiences of returning to Ireland after working as a tour guide in Central America for two years. Having lived abroad for an extended period, he doesn’t see Ireland as home any more. I know how much he is enjoying his time away from Ireland; he told me all about it during his few trips home.
I have a different view on travel, however, and on what it means to me to have left Ireland behind for a year or so. I’ve only been gone three months so far, but already I’ve had the chance to experience some pretty amazing things. We’ve been snorkelling off the coast of Bermuda, and paddle boarding with sea turtles. We’ve made friends with locals who have a boat, who have taken us free-diving in crystal clear waters. We’ve even experienced a hurricane, barricaded against the elements in our workplace with our co-workers. Yesterday, I saw two men jump out of a helicopter and parachute into the water beside me.
I’ve enjoyed Bermuda immensely. It’s a small island nation, with a pride in its culture and tourism that I find reflects our own. It has been a beautiful place to call home even for this short time, and it has taught us both a lot. I will be sad to leave behind the slow pace of island life, and the multicultural friendship circle we’ve made here. But we’re excited by the next challenge, and the harsher climes awaiting us in Canada. It’s going to be so different.
What hasn’t changed for me, yet at least, is the strong sense of attachment to home I still feel. I’ve thrown myself into island living here, but I’m constantly thinking about my plans for the future in Ireland. This trip is as much about seeing the world as it is setting us up for our return.
I had my own business before leaving Ireland. I made and sold soup to cafés in Dublin. I started this business so I could take charge of my own destiny for a while. All around me, friends were going back to college, or taking jobs at accounting firms, or emigrating to work abroad.
I found Dublin to be a brilliant place to start my first business. I worked hard and tried to make selling my soups as much of a success as possible. I received a little help from the Government and took out a business loan to get started. For six months I made it work. I decided to pack it in when winter turned to spring and demand for soup dropped as the temperatures rose. But I felt proud having created a job for myself for those six months.
Maybe it’s the entrepreneur in me that’s excited by the prospect of returning, but the attachment I have to Dublin and the belief I have in Ireland as the best place for us both for the future is real.
Ireland is not perfect; transport, healthcare, childcare costs and housing issues all need to be addressed in order to make Ireland a more attractive place for emigrants to return to. But perhaps I’m lucky, in that I feel so connected to Ireland. We’ve no set date for our return but we are both confident we will.
Lloyd features in a new three-part documentary, Dole Life, which begins on RTÉ2 tonight at 9.30pm. The progamme will be available outside of Ireland to subscribers of RTÉ Player International on iPhone and iPad.