There’s a problem in Ireland and it’s been going on for centuries. It’s not the rain, or the alcohol, the leprechauns or even the occasional famines we’ve been known to have.
The Irish problem is emigration, we’ve been coming and going for 10,000 years or so. After the great famine the population halfed, a quarter died and a quarter left, in times of recession (which seem to happen often) many people would leave to find work overseas, and since 2008 it’s been going on again.
My grandmother came to Ireland from The Niger Republic, as did my great grandmother 30 years later. My grandfather was born in Wales to Irish parents, moved around a lot before settling in the south of Ireland. My mother was sent across the sea to go to school in Meath at 5. My father came to Dublin when he was 18 to go to college and met my mother there. When my brother was born they moved around a lot, across two continents and several countries.
I come from a family of emigrants and immigrants, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that when I was 17 and found myself with no decent job prospects and no qualifications (Due to home education) in a world where to get into third level education you desperately need qualifications, I left. I was and still am the first of my group of friends to leave, but almost everyone I know knows someone who has left. Two of my friends seem set to go to college in Wales or Scotland in the next year or two, and who knows what’ll happen when everyone starts to finish up college and look for jobs.
There’s this interesting thing where you are simultaneously an emigrant and an immigrant with the particular issues that come up for both of those. The tiny cultural differences that suddenly become so massive, the huge amounts of homesickness. People make horrible comments about immigrants sometimes, occasionally in a semi friendly banter, more often when someone forgets that I wasn’t born here. A couple of weeks ago a billboard went up around the corner from where I live. it was from UKIP (The UK Independence Party, a group primarily made up of close-minded dickheads) saying “Stop Open-Door Immigration, enough is enough”. It’s pretty damn demoralising to walk past that every day. On the other hand, when I was in college there was a running “joke” about the “Damn Irish, coming to our country, taking our jobs and our women” which became hilarious when everyone realised I had in fact done just that.
I get overly excited when I meet someone from Ireland, joyfully chatting about where we’re both from and who (if anyone) we know in common. According to my girlfriend, sometimes I get grumpy, morose and patriotic if I’m away from home too long. I occasionally freak out about living in a country with a monarchy.And when I finally do go home I want to jump around and hug everyone.
I guess what I’m tying to talk about here are the difficulties of emigration on a personal level, it’s different for everyone who leaves, depending on the whys and the hows. It was hard for me, it wasn’t a decision I had a lot of time to think about. From conception to actually moving I had about 2 weeks in total. I was going to a town I didn’t know, in a country I didn’t belong in, a college course I knew next to nothing about and to lodge with a woman I had never met. But I had family nearby (An aunt and my brother living quite close) and more support than a lot of people who have to leave their birthplaces.
People ask me is England home now, and the answer is that it isn’t, Ireland is home, for always and ever. I want to go home one day be it in a year or ten, because it’s where I belong.
And I’m going to end it here, because I’m not sure what else to say right now, though I’ll probably write more on the subject soon.
A post-script. I was originally going to name this post “The Irish Curse” until I realised that that is slang for an Irish man with a smaller than average penis. Whelp, there goes that title!
Another post-script. The UKIP board round the corner has been replaced by an ad for Sainsbury’s Apple Pie, much more palatable!