I’m not an emigrant who pines for Ireland; I’ve made another home abroad

I'm lucky to have two homes now, in Leitrim and South Africa

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” - Miriam Adeney

I consider myself lucky.

I am fiercely proud of being Irish, of my Irish passport, of my three children's Irish passports, of my accent, of my Irish rugby jersey, of my family, of Leitrim and of Ireland.

I am fiercely proud to call Johannesburg and South Africa home; of Lisa my South African wife; of Sean and Kieran my two boys, and of Hannah my little eight-month-old girl (who has utterly stolen my heart), all three of whom were born in South Africa; of my South African business; and of my South African friends and colleagues.


I make absolutely no apologies for supporting Ireland loudly and passionately when they play South Africa (in any sport), and of supporting South Africa whenever they play anyone else.

When I go on holidays back to Leitrim, I tell people in South Africa I am going home. When I am about to return to South Africa, I tell everyone in Leitrim that I am going home.

I believe Ireland and Leitrim, which I call home, are among the most beautiful countries and counties in the world.

I think South Africa and Africa, which I also call home, are among the most beautiful countries and continents in the world.

I love going home to Leitrim for a holiday.

I love looking forward to coming back home to South Africa towards the end of that holiday.

I miss the Irish rain.

I love the Johannesburg sun as well as its Highveld thunder and lightning storms.

I love a great pint of Guinness; it just tastes better in Ireland (along with rashers and pork sausages).

I love South African wine.

I love the chaos and edginess of Johannesburg, South Africa and Africa.

I love the complete lack of chaos and edginess in Leitrim.

I don’t group myself with the emigrants who left Ireland because of the “bad times”. I made a choice to leave and nothing made me leave other than my itchy feet.

I don’t group myself with those who think Ireland has gone to the dogs, and I don’t group myself with those who think South Africa is just one incident away from being a banana republic.

I don’t group myself with the Irish emigrants who pine for home and consider where they are now to be just a temporary stay over until they get to go back to their “true” home again.

In fact, I don’t even see myself as an emigrant who has left “home”.

Home for me is where my family is.

That said, I desperately wish my mum, dad and brothers could see my three children more often. I desperately wish I could “pop” home for a long weekend. I desperately wish I could see some of my best friends more often. I desperately wish “my” side of our family could be by our side more often, for the hard times and the great times.

Yet through all the highs and all the lows, I consider myself lucky. Lucky to have fallen in love and have two rascally boys and a gorgeous little girl.

I am lucky to experience more than one home; lucky my story is a story of many backgrounds, settings, sunsets and accents; lucky I have been a founder of a growing business.

I am lucky my journey brought me to a place where I could write my own story, rather than have it written for me.

Above all, I am lucky I call two of the most amazing places in the world “home”- both of which have my family living in them.