When I last came through Irish Customs after my trip to Newfoundland in October, the officer took a look at my passport and residency card and said, “Ah, you’re one of us for a while.”
It made me smile. It was the first cheery response I’d had during my time in Ireland so far. Other officers had asked why I came back after being in Canada and one of them poked fun at the fact I was working for a boring old state organisation. But this guy made me think, yes I am one of you for a while.
Over the past 10 months, I’ve tried to adapt to life in a small rural town outside Dublin, faced a few red tape dramas and worked with an Irish company that has been around for 80+ years and is a household name. I’ve hosted a Paddy’s Day weekend complete with a roast dinner, watched Brian O’Driscoll play his last home game and attended networking events where I met some of the people who are giving entrepreneurship a fair go on the Emerald Isle.
This past month I’ve spent the majority of my time in Galway as we have an ill family member. I’ve been back to cafe hopping to work remotely in between hospital visits, while I try to ward off the damp and wet Atlantic weather. To top it all off, our car engine seized one day while we made our way to the hospital. We bought it in March and without warning one morning, it just spluttered and stopped. So we pushed it to the side of the road and started walking up the N17 in the sideways rain, hailing a bus after 40 minutes, soaking wet. We are back on the public transit bandwagon again, just in time for winter!
It’s been a challenging four weeks to say the least. But something funny has happened along the way. With all of the time we’ve been spending in Galway, the hubby was able to help his brother get started on building a fence and finishing up a few jobs around his house. I’ve gotten to catch up with our relatives down the road, as you can’t go for a walk without popping in at houses along the way. We’ve taken walks around Salthill where we were married, trying to clear our heads with the view. Both of our work colleagues have been more than understanding, enabling us to work flexible hours and offering support whenever they can. And the hospital staff have been friendly and accommodating, never enforcing strict visiting times. I can’t count on both hands how many offers of assistance the family has had.
As we head towards the holiday season and the start of another year, it’s made us contemplate our time in Ireland and what the future may hold. This past year has had its ups and downs, with us missing our life and friends in Brisbane and the tropical climate. But looking back, if we were in Australia we would have missed out on so many moments with family and friends in Ireland and Canada. These things have always been important to us but an illness puts a different focus on elements and events that seemed insignificant before.
I may not be Irish, fully integrated into society or quite settled yet, but I am proud to be one of them for a while.