We’re truly Irish now!” I said to my husband when he told me he had been offered a job in London. “Emigrating for work makes us full fledged Paddies!”
It has always fascinated me that due to Irish emigration the diaspora is more than fifteen times the population of the island! But we aren’t common among Irish emigrants because though we have the Irish citizenship and passports, own a home here and indeed have our lives here, we are also American citizens. We are, for lack of a better term, “Yankee Doodle Paddies” We still have our thick American twangs, but after 7 years of living in “God’s Country” our blood runs green with Irish Pride! All of our Irish friends are delighted for our move and keep saying to us, “it will be an adventure.” Plus, they are happy to know they will always have a place to stay in London! But it is tearing my soul apart to have to leave, even if it is just a temporary thing. Because we don’t have an end date, I feel like I can’t tick off the days in a calendar looking forward to our return. So my heart longs for the damp Irish weather, the green hills, the charming accents and the all around kindly demeanor of the Irish.
“Generation Emigration” runs in my family. My grandfather Patrick Geraghty left Galway for Chicago back in 1920. As he wasn’t the eldest son he knew he wouldn’t inherit the farm and so emigrated for work. He never said goodbye to his mother, as he was apparently her “favorite” (though maybe all Irish sons say that) and it would have been too painful on her. So there was no Irish wake for him. He left her a note in her bread soda tin and went in the dark of night. He knew she would find the letter the next morning when she awakened and started her daily baking. It breaks my heart to even retell that story. How brave our ancestors were to go away from their homeland in search of a better life. As well as the incredible strength of those that were left behind. Like many others, he never came back to Ireland and never even heard his mother’s voice again. However, in Chicago he met my Grandmother Winifred Morrisroe from Sligo and they had seven children, my father the youngest.
Of my 35 first cousins I am the only one to have applied for dual citizenship. Though I had my citizenship and indeed my passport for many years and would come to Ireland for visits, it wasn’t until 2008 that my husband and I moved here. I always dreamed of living here someday but when my husband faced a life threatening brain tumor, we reevaluated our future. We had faith he would make it through, but decided that once he was back to good health we would move to Dublin. Since I had just completed the Ballymaloe 12 weeks Cookery Course and was transitioning from the entertainment business to the food industry, the time was right for me too. And literally with nothing more than suitcases we started our adventure. We jumped in the deep end holding hands all the way!
So many people said to us at the time “Well your timing is off as you are just catching the tail of the Celtic Tiger” but we knew better! We weren’t moving for a job, but for a new way of life. We are proud of our American heritage, but materialism and prosperity wasn’t what we were looking for. You see, Ireland is and always has been my “ Soul Home” where I feel I belong…where I can relax and be myself. I used to say, “When I die I want my ashes scattered in Ireland” Then I realized why should I wait to die, why not spend the rest of my living years there!? However, it took almost losing my husband for that switch to go on.
When we arrived one of the first things we did was join our local parish church. We walked up to the office and knocked on the door. When they opened it we said, “Hello, we just moved here and we would like to not only join, but also volunteer to help.” If you can imagine the looks on their faces!? At that stage, so we have been told, many people had started leaving Sunday mass for the “church of Dundrum Mall” and they must have thought we were aliens! So it was very touching when last Sunday at mass the congregation gave us a standing ovation and said their goodbyes to us. I still have a burning lump in my throat. I miss Ireland, my soul home!
With Irish Pride,