Ulsterwomen find perfect mix of city and country on Isle of Man

We were both born and raised in Ulster but our friendship developed on the Isle of Man

Rachel Lucas (left) and Derbiled Boyle walk their dogs on a beach in the Isle of Mann

Rachel Lucas (left) and Derbiled Boyle walk their dogs on a beach in the Isle of Mann

 

Rachel Lucas and Derbiled Boyle were both born in Ulster, but their paths never crossed until the teachers relocated to the Isle of Man. Rachel is from Carrowdore, Co Down and did an undergraduate degree at Queen’s University Belfast. Derbiled is from Saintfield, Co Down and also studied at QUB. In 2020 in the midst of the pandemic they both moved to the Isle of Man, stumbled across each other and are now living together and teaching on the island

Neither Rachel Lucas nor Derbiled Boyle imagined when they left their hometowns in Ulster in 2019 that a couple of years later they would have relocated to a new home on the Isle of Man. Sharing the experience with someone who grew up so near to her has been perfect, says Rachel Lucas.

“After completing my undergraduate degree in Belfast, I moved to Liverpool to do my Professional Graduate Diploma in Education. I am originally from a small village in Co Down and decided to make the move to the Isle of Man in August 2020. After living in the countryside all my life, I wasn’t too keen on big city life as it felt a bit claustrophobic,” says Lucas.

“It’s funny how things work out, I was planning to go back to Northern Ireland, although there was no guarantee of jobs there for geography teachers, when the head of Ballakermeen High School in Douglas on the Isle of Man gave a presentation about the island. It really appealed. After doing my research, the Isle of Man felt like the perfect mix of city and country life and a brilliant place to start my career. I took the plunge and ended up getting a job.”

Rachel Lucas enjoys teaching pupils on the Isle of Man
Rachel Lucas enjoys teaching pupils on the Isle of Man

“At that point, I found out through my university tutor that Derbiled had been offered a teaching position on the Isle of Man too and was looking for a place to live. Derbiled and I had never met each other, despite both being from the same county and studying at the same university. Our university tutor suggested we could live together and put us in touch. It has worked out really well and it was such a comfort having someone else by your side when moving to a new place.

“Relocating was really easy. My head teacher, Adrienne, even arranged viewings of properties for us and had furniture delivered. She has gone out of her way to help and the island immediately felt like a natural fit.”

Boyle agrees. “Rachel and I travelled over together on the ferry from Belfast. The boat arrived at 4.30 am and it was dark, but the welcome was warm and you remember that. Even at that time of the morning, Rachel’s new head was there to meet us and we followed her car to our new home.”

They have both quickly settled into island life. “We’re both super outdoorsy and it has been amazing having a friend to explore and have this adventure with.

“I am a keen rider and signed up to a local riding school, as well as joining a running club. It has been great to meet new friends. I didn’t even run before I came here, but there are so many beautiful areas that running has been a great way to discover them all. I know that Rachel has been impressed by the standard of Manx hockey too and she plays at one of the local clubs, which has also been a great way to meet people.”

Lucas says that they have both been “wowed” by the career prospects within teaching on the Isle of Man. The pair had no idea about them until they moved there. “ The rate you can progress here is clear, with opportunities to gain experience in all areas of school life and the chance to apply for extra roles within the school. All the schools work together, so you get an opportunity to meet other teachers.” In addition to this she says that the pupil- teacher ratio “is better than in the north, meaning you have more time to focus on the students.”

Super outdoorsy Derbiled Boyle (left) and Rachel Lucas (right) have settled into island life
Super outdoorsy Derbiled Boyle (left) and Rachel Lucas (right) have settled into island life

One of the first things that struck both Lucas and Boyle was “how welcoming everyone was in the school and the sense of community both in and out of work. We didn’t really have pre-conceived ideas, so just take every day as it comes. What we can tell you now, though, is that it provides a safe, relaxed way of life.There are lots of benefits for teachers too such as monthly housing payments. It all helps.,” she says.

Boyle says that anyone considering relocating to the Isle of Man need only consider their experience. “For us, it has been the best thing we have ever done. The people, the job, the experience is once in a lifetime. Everyone here is so welcoming and you make a whole new family on the island, yet it is so easy to get to from Northern Ireland that you never feel too far away from home.”She says this has been comforting during the pandemic.

“We’re now looking forward to having more of our friends and family visit to show off our new home,” says Boyle.

If you live overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do

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