I’m not just back for Christmas, I’m home for good
After building up a great life in the Netherlands, the decision to leave and return to Ireland was tough
Sarah Kenny with her boyfriend Ruairí: ‘The decision to move home was not taken lightly and came with a mixed bag of emotions: excitement and sadness, nervousness, uncertainty, even self-doubt.’
When I decided to leave Amsterdam to return to Ireland, people kept asking me why. Was there a problem with my job? Was I lonely? Did I not like Amsterdam? I had a great life there, so it was a resounding no to all of those, but I had always wanted to go back to Ireland again. And now seemed like a good time.
I ended four and a half fantastic years in The Netherlands this month. It will forever be the place where I met my boyfriend and had a great circle of friends and social life, a good job, local hangouts, hobbies and lifelong experiences. I moved there for two years originally, but like many emigrants, the bug hit to stay a while.
Life was so good that staying became a twofold choice, as much about leaving Amsterdam as about moving to Ireland. The decision to move home was not taken lightly and came with a mixed bag of emotions: excitement and sadness, nervousness, uncertainty, even self-doubt.
Ireland is where my heart is and I was always going to come back. My boyfriend Ruairí was of the same mindset and perhaps it got to a point where, knowing that, we became a little unsettled. After building up a great life abroad, the when becomes the tough part. A job offer decided it for us, then moving happened very quickly.
It was rightfully pointed out to me that I was in a bit of denial about it. The tears finally came on the plane home last week as a jumble of emotions and realisation hit, and it sank in that we were on a one-way flight.
Living in Amsterdam opened the door to new things I would not have done here in Ireland: starting Gaelic football and camogie in my late 20s, teaching Irish dancing, going back to dance in a feis again, and a lot of travelling - my job took me to Istanbul and Shanghai, we played in Gaelic tournaments in Stockholm and Brussels, and the ease of access in mainland Europe allowed us hop on a train for a weekend to Bruges or Dusseldorf.
Moving is tough and emotionally tiring, more so than I thought. The overwhelming energy comes from a new challenge, the anticipation to embrace change and come out of a comfort zone; the excitement to go back to the home turf, to family, to our roots. A sense of unease comes initially, as a little control is lost and you have to just go with the flow.
I will be changing from a corporate working environment in a big city, to a rural one in the New Year, marketing tourism in the west of Ireland, what I really love to do. It is exciting, and it comes at an inspiring time when the industry is booming and at its busiest ever.
Moving abroad takes you out of what and where you know and forces personal growth. Your self-sufficiency goes into fifth gear and you find unknown strengths and take new paths. It broadens the mind, and I feel coming back, that I have developed and grown for the better. And while it hasn’t changed at all, Ireland seems a little different somehow.
It may sound clichéd, but it really is surprising how much you can miss being able to walk by the sea in your woollies, or pop into Mum for a cuppa, or go to Pearse Stadium for a game, or even just get a pint of squash with your lunch.
Hills are green far away. It’s good to be back.