Alan: You know when you say goodbye to friends and family, you know and you have that heartbreak, and you head up to Dublin Airport, you strap yourself into the plane, and you have no clue what the next ten minutes, what the next ten months, what the next ten years are going to bring. You know, it could all fly or it could all fail. It's not easy. And it's not for everyone. But, if it's for you you'll feel it, you'll know.
Ireland will always be my home, and I'm very proud to be Irish, you know, especially with my accent. I carry it with me everywhere, so you take friends and family out of the equation, I kind of bring Ireland with me. Economically, if I could afford to go back, and make a living back there, and a lifestyle, you know that I feel I deserve, I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Why did I choose Australia? I dunno, since I was a young fella I suppose it's, it's always seemed ah, it's the last stop I mean it's on the far side of the world. The weather here's amazing. You know. The sheilas are amazing! Yeah it's just, I dunno, I've spent my life driving somewhere, you know, and always looking over the hill at the next bend, or what's further on up the road, and, you kind of get to Australia, and there isn't any further to go.
Conor: I'd got into a bit of a rut in Dublin. I wanted to break myself out of that, I wanted to break myself out of my habits, I wanted to challenge myself to do new things, and there's nothing better than completely changing your environment to do that. Whether or not I stay in Melbourne forever I don't know, I kind of think if I go back what will I be giving up, and, you know, if it's a case well I came to Melbourne and my initial actions were trying to replicate what I had in Dublin, I'd probably do the reverse when I went home, I'd try to replicate what I do in Melbourne and I'm not sure I could do that there, it's not with the city and with the country and with the amount of people, and the way the economy's going it's not built that way. I think I'd miss Melbourne more than I currently miss Dublin.
You know not a lot of people are there any more. So if I look at friends of mine that have gone to Scotland, London, Spain, Canada, the States, some are in Australia, some are up in Sydney, so when I go home, it's just very very different because they're just not there.
Sarah: I left Ireland in June 2006 to do a post-graduate course in New Zealand, at the University of Otago. And my intention was, study there for nine months, learn everything I could, and bring that knowledge back to Ireland and get jobs in the film industry back home, unfortunately, that didn't work out.
I'm not happy about having to stay away at all, I'm Irish, I want to live in Ireland, I always thought I'd live in Ireland, and travel, because I do really love travelling, I love seeing new countries, I love meeting new people, but I always thought I'd be able to live in Ireland where my family is, and travel, you know take three months, two months here and save up for a few years go on a big trip but, um, and its, it really gets to me the fact that I don't have a choice.
Michael: Leaving home coming out here, being this far away, like, the fellow I travelled with, he's gone home now, it didn't work out for him, he couldn't handle it here, couldn't find permanent work, I've got a lot of friends, well that I've got to know here, that I've gone to different places so, it's like being, it's like getting fresh off the plane again but this time on your own and, it's, you've got nobody to depend on nobody to rely on, you know you have to worry about everything all the time, like you've no safety net at all here at all you know so, that's the challenges of leaving home. Back home they told us like, when, you, you basically made it out that when we got off the plane at the airport there'd be people waiting in the airport to give us jobs and it's absolute crap, you know it's crap, there are plenty of unemployed people out here. And there's plenty of unemployed Australians, that the government is trying to get into jobs before foreign workers, so the government is helping these people they're not helping the people from back home but yet they're still asking them to come out. But when you fail there's no help for you so it's kind of like, it's a bit nasty the way things are like the way people portray Australia to you. You get a big shock when you come here. You'll notice a big difference.
Ireland will always be home to me. Always, no matter what. You know like, I'd do anything for Ireland. But, er, it's just, it has nothing to give me there now, you know? Not that I've forgotten about it or, well I suppose I've run away in a sense but, I mean I haven't run out of sight. Like, it's still there, I still know where it is you know, but I can, I know I can make a better life here, a much better life than I could ever in Ireland, and probably even without the, even without the recession. You'd probably, yeah no you still would have definitely made a better life here.
Elaine: I left Ireland through choice. I wasn't forced to leave, you know I had a job which I loved, um, I'd been working there for nine years, but the sector that I was involved in, the community sector was very uncertain. I don't regret leaving, like I've mentioned I feel I've learned a lot about myself, and it has forced me to come out of my comfort zone in a lot ways, and see myself in a different light, um, and that's what I was hoping for. There was a while back a couple of months ago where I was really genuinely not happy. I found, I wasn't happy in the job I was doing and I was just going through a bad time of it and I was considering moving on a again. I was actually looking, you know, teaching English in Thailand and stuff I was actually looking at jobs but, what made me think then was, like the connections that I've made in Perth, like it would be a shame to move on again because I have a genuine fondness for the place now, you know, and the relationships that I've been building you know, so that would be something that would keep me here so that makes me feel you know that it's starting to become like home?
Karen & Siobhan: There's so much talk of Australia at home in Ireland so I was very excited about coming here, and seeing different country, different culture, you know, and even just having the sun, because we don't get a lot of sun at home in Ireland, and so it was exciting but I have to say I felt really sad leaving my family behind. I was a little bit apprehensive about leaving at the age of 30. I knew I had a job to come back to but, it's not the kind of thing that the majority of people do. It's made me realise that you know at any age you can sort of change things in your life I mean, move to another country and that kind of thing, and you can actually get another job on your own merit and that kind of thing, you can make new friends, you can actually build a new life for yourself.
Well I was tempted to stay. I was offered, four years' sponsorship in the cafe in Caulfield, and I mean I had to really lay out the pros and cons because I mean I was earning more money over here in a coffee shop than I was at home in the hospital. Um, you know and I had to definitely weigh up the pros and cons and try and figure out whether, I mean the lifestyle here is so outdoors as well, because the weather is better, generally it's much better and, it's an outdoorsy lifestyle. Healthier. It's a healthier lifestyle. I mean, if we had weather like this it would be super but we don't. So yeah I definitely was tempted, but, I mean, all the family are at home, so I would feel quite lonely I think if, I know I would make friends out here and things like that but I definitely would feel quite lonely and it's so far away. And you know, my parents are getting older, so they're not going to travel maybe as often, so, I have to weight up all of that and just decided not to take it, and that I would go home.
Eleanor: I've got a good life here and I, it's always where I wanted to be, in the end with Clay, it was always our, when we got together, and we started talking about our life together it was always, the picture was always here even, to the point that our marriage, the way we were originally planning on get, where we were going to get married would have been here, but um, so yeah I'm happy, I've got a good job, I work the .. the economy here is able to sustain us. I've managed to buy a house, I don't think I would ever have been able to do in Ireland. I have a dog, I, we're building our life here.
If you leave a place you have to create a community. If you want to feel at home somewhere, if that's where you're planning to live, you need to build yourself into that community you can't just go and live there and get a job and tick all the boxes, you have to go and join groups and get yourself out there and push past those fears and I'm a very insular person, and I've been very shy in the past.
Darren: I was unemployed for two years back home. I completed a trade, and when I was finished the trade, there was just no work for me. So after two years of being unemployed I just decided that ah, time to move on. I think the decision to leave was quite easy at the time actually, it was stay and just have nothing and, no prospect, and unable to find work and still living at home, or go try something new and see if I could make something of myself. I found it quite easy to get work out here I just was here two days and I had a job picking apples, as soon as I left that I had another one, two days, as a mechanic out in the country. When I left there I went to an orchard and ah we did a naked photo shoot, that was quite fun, because a photographer on the farm, she was an Australian girl, she just decided we were going to make a naked calendar one day and, just all, we all took off our clothes and, it happened.
Mick: My identity, being Irish could never change, it's just unquestionable. You know, I, my family would disown me if I said anything different anyway.
Like, Dublin people and Cork people, wouldn't get to see eye to eye you know, especially not when it comes to football, but er, over here they're all just the one. You know, it's, it's great like, it's good to actually get to, you know you, get to mingle with your countrymen like it's brilliant, with everyone you know, space in between like. It's good. I meet a lot of good Cork people here. Most of my mates, my good friends are from Cork like, you know. I hope they'll say the same about Dublin!
Karen & Siobhan: Being Irish means to me anyway... Having the craic! Having the craic! Craic agus ceol. Um, no I dunno, I think, I think wherever we go this is going to sound a bit big-headed but I think we're quite liked, as a nation, generally! A big thing about being Irish for me, is my family, and, you know, where I grew up and, you know the Gaelic football and things that only the Irish people really understand, but um, I think being Irish for me as well, and one of the biggest things is the sense of humour. And I miss sort of being understood.
Eleanor: Irish people are funny, because it doesn't matter where you go, you're always part of their family. Because you always have a home in New York, and you always have a home in Ireland. You always have a home, somewhere where there's an Irish person, that may have been related to you 50 cousins away, you always have a bed there.
Elaine: I'm proud of my roots you know, I'm proud of who we are as a people, I think we're a resilient people you know, we've had a troubled history but, you know we've, we've come through things, and I think, I hope, that we'll learn from this experience you know, the way the economy has gone bust, um, there's a deeper sense of community now, you know, people are helping each other out, you know, because we've had to, and I think that, some of that got lost when there was so much wealth in the country.
Mick: The economic situation in Ireland has put a lot of people into depression. It's basically changed the whole country to what it was, you know everybody was happy everybody was making money, people were buying houses, young people starting families. Now young people are worrying what they're going to do with the kids that they had, you know, it's just, it's a different place now like, nothing, no future for anybody.
Sarah: People are leaving because the jobs that they're qualified to do don't exist. Um, there used to be a lot of, um computer companies, a lot of high tech industry in Ireland and that's just gone. Just for example in my own city Dell Computers had employed five people out of my family, and within two days shut down production and moved to Poland.
Eleanor: The way the recession hit was almost instant and dramatic. Like instantly, construction companies were closed so roads were just stopped being built. Industrial estates were just stopped. There was, I think my in-laws when they came over the second time said it very well. You'd drive around places and it was like, it was just whole derelict estates, they were brand new buildings but no-one was living in them and nature was reclaiming them because, well no one was living there.
There's not much employment, there's not much prospects, and especially if you're not educated, you know, um, your prospects are very limited, um, so there are opportunities in crime and stuff like that you know so that's why when the economy goes down you see the crime rate going up because people are desperate.
I think for our generation, we've sort of realised how things can change quite quickly, that nothing's permanent, because I mean, when we started working you know only eight, nine years ago, it was you know you got a permanent job pretty soon and it was stable, and that it was always going to be like that, and I think we, our generation learned that it's not, nothing is kind of stable.
Well I do believe that the, the Celtic Tiger was built on the backs of Irish immigrants coming home from the depression that we had in the '80s. You know and they brought with them a drive and a will to succeed, and I believe we'll come around again. You know things are bad at the minute but like I said before, you know we're Celts, we'll always stand up and fight. When we're all finished moaning and complaining about politicians and media and banks and everything else, we'll just get sick of, you know being in a depression and we'll stand up and fight back. I know, I do believe in the future we'll come back even stronger than before.