‘You need money to get going. But once that’s sorted, you have a great life here’
Wild Geese: Ronan Marsh in Melbourne, Australia
Ronan Marsh in Melbourne: ‘In terms of moving to Australia, whenever Irish people can do, they probably will come back again.’
“Life is so different here now compared to life at home right now. My family and I visit restaurants and public places and travel to other states, meet friends and have BBQs,” he says. “Though it’s difficult knowing that we can’t go to Ireland at the moment, we’re relishing the fact that we have these hard fought for freedoms.”
Like many other Irish people living in Australia, the Rathmines native didn’t plan on staying the distance when he first landed there in 2008, but the easy going outdoor lifestyle was to be the foundation upon which he built his life there.
After leaving St Mary’s College in Rathmines in 1996, Marsh studied marketing and languages at the Marketing Institute.
“I took a little time out during college and went to live in New York in 1998. I was lucky enough to get a job at CBS studios as a runner, living out near Yonkers, a popular Irish destination. It was a great time.”
Upon returning to Ireland, he wanted to work full-time rather than go back to college and got a marketing position at Philips in their corporate division, specialising in lighting. “I was there for over eight years working in new business development and energy efficiency development in positions including lighting specification manager, marketing manager and corporate branding executive.”
He completed his marketing degree at night. But when he reached his late 20s, Marsh wanted to travel and widen his net.
“It was 2007 and I had specialised in my career, so I thought it was a good time. I went to southeast Asia, travelling across the Tibetan Plateau and Cambodia and ended up in Australia as so many people did back then – armed with a work visa for a year.” After six weeks in Australia, he landed in Melbourne, and instantly fell in love with it.
“I wanted to continue my career in lighting in Australia and got a job with an architect who sponsored my stay. After a year, I got a job with Eagle Lighting in Melbourne, where I worked for four years managing projects before becoming a senior member of the management team and steering committee, where I led the product, marketing and design departments.
“I also serviced and developed a client portfolio which included Fagerhult and the German We-ef lighting brands.”
After four years in Melbourne, Marsh went on to work with Versalux, a provider of architectural lighting solutions serving a wide variety of project applications, as a national sales marketing manager.
“I was travelling around Europe a lot, which meant I could go home for weekends and see my family and friends. I was working with them until March 2020, when everything shut down.”
Marsh says he was glad to be home during the early lockdown stages to homeschool his children while his wife went to work.
“We had a really tough lockdown here and lost our spring as a result of it. We were literally locked into our houses, only being allowed to leave for shopping or small amounts of exercise. It was really torturous.”
But it means summer was saved and, when lockdown ended, Marsh took up a role as national sales manager for Australia and New Zealand for We-ef.
‘Back to normal’
“I started working with them in December, just when things were getting back to normal, as they say. We still have restrictions here, I just had a work trip cancelled to Queensland but, generally speaking, we can travel all across the vast country for work and leisure.”
Marsh has been home 10 times in the last 13 years, due to work commitments. “I’m very lucky that I was working in mainland Europe and could tag on weekends in Dublin. I was last home in 2019, for a friend’s funeral and met another friend who has since passed away. I’m so glad I got to give her a hug.
“You do miss milestones and miss family and friends and it’s sad to be so far away in times like this. But I will go home again as soon as the situation allows and when my parents are vaccinated.”
In the meantime, Australia is a great place to raise children, he says. “The freedom of the great outdoors can’t be underestimated. I sold my car and bought a camper van this summer and we travelled around the region. It’s amazing to see a country like that.”
Marsh says there are fewer Irish people around now than a decade ago, but those who are there are there to stay.
“Obviously there’s a big Irish connection here, and I’m grateful for my Irish friends over here. In terms of moving to Australia, whenever Irish people can do, they probably will come back again.
“From my experience, I suggest you specialise in something first. It certainly helped me get on the ladder, rather than just hope for the best when you get off the plane.
“Melbourne, and Australia in general, is a very expensive place to live and you need money to get going. But once you have that sorted, you have a great life here.”