Something Good Came Out Of 'Generation Emigration' – We Learned To Appreciate Ireland Again
There's nothing like being forced abroad to make you realise how good we have it here
I can’t tell you how many times I have watched the ‘Ireland Inspires’ video, the haunting tones of James Vincent McMorrow ringing in my ears.
I have also racked up a fair amount of views of the ‘Mini Irish Road Trip’, and I’m still not sick of Hermitage Green’s Cloud 9 ... tune!
I spend the best part of my morning, every morning, on Lovin Dublin, Joe.ie, and for good measure, RTE. I now have a Spotify playlist dedicated wholly to Irish music, possibly as a result of the aforementioned videos. I have a constant and cherished stash of Barry’s Tea and I have spent $7 on a bottle of Mi Wadi on more than one occasion.
I am part of Generation Emigration – the latest batch of Irish people living and working abroad. Obviously my emigrant experience is very different to that of those who left before me; the generations past who moved away to work in hard labour and those before them who were literally chased out by hunger.
I’m 25 years old; I have a degree in my back pocket, no debt and no financial responsibilities beyond myself. I am aware of how very lucky I am. On top of that if I am totally honest, I probably would have left Ireland for some time anyway.
We’ve all watched the emotional goodbyes and reunions that flood our screens and news feeds every Christmas so I won’t bore you with stories of how I miss my mum’s shepherd’s pie, or how sad I was to miss one brother’s 18th and another’s 21st.
The only difference now is that I didn't really have a choice. I was fortunate enough to get a job in Boston after I graduated and here I am, ironically enough in this most Irish of cities two years later, happy as Larry… for the most part.
Despite the fact that I love it here in Boston, I find myself pining for home quite often. Of course this is the norm, to miss family, friends, and home comforts while away from them. Everyone who leaves home goes through that, it even happens when we head off to the Gaeltacht for three weeks.
Of course, establishing your whole life in a foreign country, particularly if it’s not entirely of your own volition, is somewhat more difficult – and the homesickness, accordingly, becomes ever so slightly more acute.
We’ve all watched the emotional goodbyes and reunions that flood our screens and news feeds every Christmas so I won’t bore you with stories of how I miss my Mum’s shepherd’s pie, or how sad I was to miss one brother’s 18th and another’s 21st. What I want to talk about is something more difficult to explain – how very much those of us who have left simply miss Ireland.
I personally miss it terribly.
We, the Irish that is, are not by nature a very boastful bunch – apart from Conor McGregor, of course.
The homesickness and loneliness are not fun when they hit you; there isn’t enough smuggled Dairy Milk in the world to cure mine when it arrives. When I first moved here it used to catch me off guard and almost piss me off, but now I’ve realised it’s a great complaint to have.
In fact I think it could be one of the best things to come out of the having a generation of Irish people take off for a few years, or in some cases forever.
We all now realise just how good we had it at home. We’re more connected and tied to our Irish heritage than we ever would have been if we had stayed put. A community of young people in shared solidarity for how much we miss where we come from and how proud we are of it.
We, the Irish that is, are not by nature a very boastful bunch – apart from Conor McGregor, of course. We don’t like to brag or talk ourselves up – okay again, see above.
Case in point? "This? Oh, €3 in Penneys".
Recently, though, this is starting to leak out more often than before – especially for those of us away from home. Look at our Facebook pages, our Twitter feeds – they’re littered with posts about Hozier hitting the big time and of course – McGregor.
We wax poetic about simple things like the glory of a fluffy spud, and the real taste of summer being a 99 with a flake from your local Centra. We say ‘Only in Ireland’ without the traditional roll of the eyes but with a smile on our face and a slight pang of loneliness for the things you truly can only find at home.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in the bad news stories, the doom and gloom that has overshadowed us for the past few years. That’s why it is so important that we don’t lose sight of everything that makes us who we are and how fantastic it all is.
For those of us who are away from home this is much easier to see and identify – and yes, I admit to romanticise. Honestly though, what’s the harm in a little romance?
Many of you will shake your heads and call me naïve, you might even tell me that the grass is always greener.
But you see, lads – if you think about it, it really is.