I’m longing for the time my daughter gets to fly to Ireland to meet Mamó agus Grandad

Full Galway kit for a new member of the Irish diaspora

Rebekah Mifsud, Chris and Isla Carroll in Melbourne

Rebekah Mifsud, Chris and Isla Carroll in Melbourne

 

Chris Carroll was born and grew up in in Galway city. He graduated from NUIG with a degree in engineering and left Galway in 2014 to do some solo backpacking around Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He settled in Melbourne in early 2015 and has lived there since. He met Rebekah in 2018 and brought her on a visit to Ireland the following year. Their daughter Isla was born in Melbourne in April 2021. “She’s not crawling yet but is certainly not afraid to exercise her voice,” says her father. Chris is a software engineer for Mantel Group and currently works from home

Back in April, I welcomed my daughter, Isla, into the world. It was the most incredible moment of my life and I was so proud of my partner, Rebekah, for what she went through for us. When the time was right, I stepped out of the delivery room to go and call my parents to share the good news with them and this was quickly followed by a group call with my siblings.

Living in Melbourne, it was always going to be tough for me starting a family so far from home with my parents in Galway, my brother in Waterford and my sisters split between Galway and Dublin. I was mentally prepared over the previous nine months to have to wait a little while longer than I’d ideally like before my family got to meet my firstborn in person, but the way the pandemic has played out, and as we endure Melbourne’s sixth hard lockdown, I don’t expect that first introduction to happen until closer to Isla’s first birthday at this rate.

I started my career in Galway city, but have lived in Melbourne since 2015. I came out here to explore a new part of the world and progress my career in software engineering. Life in Melbourne has been good to me. From my base here, I’ve taken trips to Japan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia - all places I’d never been to before relocating to this side of the world. I have also travelled around Australia and made new friends along the way.

Abroad during Covid

I played a couple of seasons of Australian Rules football with a local footy club to really get myself accustomed to the culture here and kicked a few goals once I got my head around the sport. I was lucky to meet Rebekah here and bring her on a road trip around Ireland during my last trip home.

Technology has helped ease the home sickness, but it still doesn’t make it painless to be so far from home longing for the day that my daughter gets to fly to Ireland

Job opportunities have been plentiful here too. I’ve been fortunate to work with some very talented people over the years and my employer, Mantel Group, was recently awarded the number one medium-sized company to work for in Australia. They’ve been extremely supportive of me by helping me navigate the legal side of visa applications and, now that I’m a father, on top of my five weeks of annual leave, I was given a further four weeks of fully-paid paternity leave. This has really afforded me the opportunity to bond with Isla early on. I’m lucky to work in an industry that enables me to work from home full time. Just to be present around Isla during the day and watch her grow before my eyes, is an opportunity many fathers before me often never had.

Rebekah’s family all live in Melbourne, so they get plenty of opportunities to hang out with her in between lockdowns. Isla has got two Australian cousins who are already pitching in to look after her and two Irish cousins in Waterford who are looking forward to meeting her when the international border reopens.

Chris and Isla Carroll , who can’t wait to meet meet Mamó agus Grandad
Chris and Isla Carroll , who can’t wait to meet meet Mamó agus Grandad

Before the pandemic threw all travel plans into disarray, I was fortunate to have my parents visit me here in early 2020 when a different devastation, the bushfires, were making headlines around the world. That didn’t stop them from enjoying the Australian Open on 40° days. When I dropped them off at the airport, I was expecting to see them and my brother and sisters again six months later. Since then, I’ve relied on regular video calls, WhatsApp messages and plenty of care packages to keep in touch. Isla has had the full Galway GAA kit sent out to her and some things my parents kept safe from when I was a baby. She watched her first All-Ireland final last weekend as well. I occasionally speak as Gaeilge when I’m interacting with her so she will certainly know she’s Irish as she grows up. Rebekah has dual citizenship with Malta, so it is important to us that Isla is brought up with an understanding of the heritage and culture of both of her parents.

The travel restrictions and border closures are understandable and I’m thankful for a lot of things. However, this is by far the longest time I’ve spent away from home. Technology has helped ease the home sickness, but it still doesn’t make it painless to be so far from home longing for the day that my daughter gets to fly to Ireland to see where her father grew up and meet Mamó agus Grandad.

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

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.