Sometimes my mind wanders to a different reality, what life would be like if I'd stayed at home. Where would I be now, would I be happy? So many leave Ireland for reasons beyond their control. Driven overseas by unemployment, or some by poverty similar to that described in Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes (whether you believe it or not), but that's not my story. I left an Ireland that had plenty to offer me. The economy was booming, Third Level Education a given, and the prospect of a well paid job a certainty. So what drove me to leave my beautfiul country in search of a new beginning? Let me explain, recently I started reading the articles on the 'Irish Abroad' and they got me thinking about that very question. Why was I opening my front door onto a street in South Boston every morning instead of a street back home in Cork or Dublin.
In the end the answer is quite simple I suppose. Despite all its undoubted charm and un-matchable sense of community, Ireland is a very small place. I lived in a rural village on the outskirts of Skibbereen in West Cork. Despite the love I possess for every inch of my beautiful home, I couldn't shake the sense of claustrophobia that was gripping me tighter with each passing day. As I approached my 21st birthday I reached the tipping point, I had to make a choice and stick to it. The options were simple, stay at home and follow the same path as friends and family or take a chance and book a ticket to America. In the end it was an easy decision, it was always going to be the latter. Destination wise, nowhere else came close to America. To me and most Irish people for that matter, America is a fabled place where anything is possible. Everyone in Ireland loves the States and they love us. All you have to do is look at the amount of Presidents who have Irish heritage to figure that one out.
I landed in Logan Airport back in 2011. I'd been abroad a few times previously but this was my first time properly moving away from home. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't in the slightest bit nervous. All I could think about was the freedom I'd just bought myself. I grabbed a taxi into the city centre and I just couldn't wait to meet new people. Being Irish, I know what it means to be friendly and welcoming, but the Americans take it to a whole new level. I met a girl with a rather strong Boston accent in a bar that night. Safe to say she'd told me her life-story within the first fifteen minutes of meeting her, that was just the beginning! I moved into a flat in Dorchester with two other lads. One was from Quincy and the other from Cuba, although he never actually confirmed that for us! I had organised a construction job before arriving and was due to start 48 hours after the plane landed. I always remember rocking up to the site that first morning. It musty have been about 6am and it was already nearly 30 degrees. I'd sunk a good few pints the night before and I must have sweated off about four stone by the time we broke for lunch. The work was hard, but my God what a laugh we had on that site. Men from everywhere worked there, too many places to mention them all. I loved every story they told me, I learned more about life in that first 6 months than I had in my whole previous existence.
The reason I wrote this article is to show that some stories of emigration at least are not all about hardship and misery. I left Ireland because I wanted to experience the world beyond my local area, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. People say that travel is the best education you can have, and I totally agree with that. The people I've met, the places I've been and the life I've carved out for myself would never have been possible without taking the plunge into the unknown. I've worked hard for everything I've got out here but its been worth it. I'm now a Project Manager for one of the city's premier construction companies and I'm engaged to an American girl who claims to love Ireland even more than I do! I'm living my dream life, but that does not mean I've forgotten where I come from. Ireland will always be home, nowhere else in the world is anything like it or near it. There are still days where I think about packing my suitcase and heading back but that is just part and parcel of being an emigrant, I've realised that now. The love of home will never leave me but I love Boston too. It's one of those cities that quickly gets under your skin and finds a place in your heart. In many ways its very similar to home, the people are amazingly welcoming but also tough and gritty just like the Irish. I suppose that's not a surprise considering most Bostonians are actaully Irish in some form or other!
I'm not sure if I'll ever fold my tent and head back to Cork for good but I can't rule it out. Every time I go home to visit I find it harder to leave. Nothing is perfect in life I suppose and I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been given here in America. I love both places, if only I could be in two places at once but that would really be pushing it. I hope my story inspires someone else who feels unsure about what their future holds. All I can say is, never let fear dictate your path, follow your dreams until they cant be followed anymore. To finish, I'd like to thank 'The Irish Abroad' for sharing so many wonderful stories, without them I wouldn't be sitting here writing this story. Leaving Ireland does not make you any less a proud Irish man or woman, in many ways it brings out your pride in ways you never even realised were possible. God bless.