Fellow Irish abroad, do you ever think seriously about going home? Or have you?

(87 Posts)
FlattenedWhite Wed 20-Jul-16 14:55:05

Just wondering whether any of you who have lived away for, say, more then ten years, have seriously considered returning to Ireland, and if you did, how has it been? I've been living perfectly happily all over the world since the mid nineties, but the nagging thought that we might be happier in Ireland occasionally comes up. Especially having had a child who is growing up culturally English in a place where neither DH (also Irish) nor I feel as if we want to stay on much longer, and which got us thinking about how different it would be for him growing up in Ireland. And there are things I get impatient with, like the hysteria about Good Schools and the middle-class parenting angst I've never come across to anywhere near the same extent in Ireland. Not to mention Brexit.

But I'm very aware of the experiences of some family friends who'd lived in the US for years, had two children there, moved back to Ireland and lasted less than two years because they weren't able to settle (plus picked an unfortunate moment of downturn...)

Thoughts? I know it's Craicnet, but the heat is making me gloomy...

MarDhea Wed 20-Jul-16 17:24:07

Thinking about it right now...

Seriously, Brexit has pissed me off to the extent that I no longer want to live in the UK very much. All my favourite things - the bbc, nhs, etc. - are being dismantled. Xenophobic and racist opinions are on the rise and apparently now acceptable in a way they never were before. The school system is a bit shit and becoming increasingly batty. These things did bother me before Brexit, but the recent nastiness has really brought things to a head and made me feel that I don't belong and don't want to.

I've been here over 10 years and I love the neighbourhood where I live, but I don't think I want to raise my kids in this country now.sad DH is also Irish so there's nothing really holding us here.

For all its flaws, Ireland is where our families are and we'd love to see more of them and have an easier time getting a babysitter. And I'm pretty sure Ireland would be better for the DC - the oul sod certainly does better than the UK on those child happiness indices.

So DH and I are currently job hunting in Ireland.

FlattenedWhite Wed 20-Jul-16 17:39:49

Thanks, MarDhea (an expression I haven't heard in a while in Middle England!) I'm thinking along the same lines, only jobs for us both would be very, very difficult in Ireland. DH's only possibilities in his would involve us living in Dublin, which neither of us really wants to, and my field is absolutely tiny... But yes, I'm thinking about it more recently, post-Brexit, though I did also think of it when the Tories came to power....

DearTeddyRobinson Wed 20-Jul-16 17:59:46

I am home! I choose to live in the uk, DH is British, kids have British passports. I have felt at home here for years though, way before getting married etc. I never really liked Ireland tbh. Too small and village-y and gossipy, all 'who do you know' and ' I saw you at tesco' etc. And I'm from Dublin!
Yes I'm pissed off at Brexit but there are no jobs in Ireland doing what I do (it's all done out of London) and I would hate to uproot my family.
Plus while the schools are certainly better in Ireland, there is horrendous snobbery in Dublin surrounding which private school you go to etc. Awful. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that for my kids.
All that and the weather is shite grin

Fuckoffdailymailnobs Wed 20-Jul-16 18:09:13

I've been in the UK "system" since I went to uni in Belfast (there's a comment that would not go down well). English other half now, twenty years plus out of Ireland, two English kids. I never once thought about leaving until brexit. Bizarrely my job doesn't really exist in Ireland but dp would have no bother getting a job..

I was worried about school system here but have been pleasantly surprised by primary. Hate the idea of the narrow A level system still though.

I'm fairly certain I'm more suited to living in England. I don't do religion. I love my pretty little Surrey village now if I could just find a (state) school that does the leaving cert ;)

Fuckoffdailymailnobs Wed 20-Jul-16 18:10:06

Oh yes weather, I'm always freezing when I go back now

MarDhea Wed 20-Jul-16 20:15:52

I'm up north so the weather is exactly the same as in most of Ireland. grinangry

Teddy the private school obsession in Dublin is only part of the Ross O'Carroll Kelly set, though, which is a tiny proportion of the population. In years of living in Dublin (both sides of the river), and even spending a few of those in UCD, I only ever met a couple of individuals who seemed to take it seriously ("I'm a Rock man, myself", etc.). And everyone else took the piss out of them. grin

I guess it depends what circles you move in, but it really really hasn't ever been a concern for me and mine, either personally or in the careers we've pursued. It's often more about where you went to college, mind.

CremeEggThief Wed 20-Jul-16 20:20:39

Yes, seriously considering it since the leave vote wonow, as I am so angry at the UK about it. However, my DS has 5 years of school left, so I plan to stay here until he finishes, as it would be too disruptive to him to move now or soon. I'll have been here 25 years by that time. In fact, I've already been here longer (20 years) than I spent in Ireland (18 years).

geekaMaxima Wed 20-Jul-16 20:24:20

I don't do religion either, fuckoff (love the username), especially in schools.

If it weren't for Education Together, and the exponential rate that they're opening schools all over the country, we wouldn't be considering a move with the DC. A lot of the older ET national schools, esp in Dublin, have crazy waiting lists but I've been pleasantly surprised that it's not the case everywhere.

BlackAmericanoNoSugar Wed 20-Jul-16 20:53:13

I left Ireland in 1990 after graduation and came back in 2010, I mostly lived in London in the meantime. I wasn't that keen to move back tbh but it worked out very well. My H was the one pushing for a move back (he's from the far east but took Irish citizenship in the late 1980s) but at the time I wanted to stay in London.

I knew that I would prefer the education system here, my older DC had started school already in London and it was tricky. Moving to Dublin meant that we could drop him down a year (summer-born) and the primary system has a much slower and more thorough focus on the basics than the UK does. Dublin also seems less claustrophobic and nosy than it used to be, either because it just is less that way or because my fuck-off vibes have been honed to a level that even Irish people think twice before asking a personal question.

I miss buzz of London, but daily things are so much easier here and the DC have a lot more time to do things because the school day is a bit shorter and there are loads of activities within an easy drive. Plus we have a big enough house here to have an au pair so the DC can do different activities at the same time (H is often abroad so isn't regularly available). The thing I miss the most is the cultural mix, I had friends who were from lots of different cultures in London and I used to really enjoy that they had such varied backgrounds and unexpected views. I've found in Ireland that a lot of my friendships are with people who are immigrants or who have lived outside of Ireland for quite a long time. I don't think that's a product of having lived abroad though as I was always fascinated by people who had different experiences to me even as a child.

I'm another one who's job doesn't exist here, although tbh I had to leave anyway as H took a job abroad and I couldn't make the hours fit when he wasn't doing the drop-off to nursery twice a week. And DS ended up having massive issues at school so it was just as well that I was around and not working as we had to take him out in a hurry and it took a couple of months to find another school. And then DD came along and she had completely the wrong personality for nursery. So I would have had about a 5 year break from work even if we had stayed in London, and that's a long break to try to come back from in the field that I was in.

FlattenedWhite Wed 20-Jul-16 21:03:06

I don't do religion, either - my son remains unbaptised to the horror of his grandparents, and if we move back, he certainly won't be going through the motions of communion and confirmation if he's at that kind of school because 'ah, sure it's grand, it's only a nice day out and a bit of pocket money etc etc.' which makes me go red in the face with annoyance. Mind you, here he's about to start reception in a C of E village school with an evangelical vicar and which did a Clean for the Queen this year, which doesn't fill me with delight either.

I do like living in England, incidentally, or I have mostly. I was a very happy Londoner for a long time, but these last few years, the primness and conformity of village England (at least around here) has been a bit of a shock - my memories of rural life in any of the bits of Ireland I've lived in are that it was a lot less staid, and there were hippies up the hill and German cheesemakers and Random English people running B and Bs and being foreign was not so weird! It may just be that we need to move somewhere more interesting here.

Decorhate Thu 21-Jul-16 06:56:26

Interesting thread! I suspect I have lived outside Ireland for longer than anyone else who has posted so far. At some stage I had flipped from always having vague plans to move back in a year or two to finally feeling settled & having no desires to move.

I am lucky to live in a lovely small city with lots going on but also within easy reach of London. Good schools, safe neighbourhood etc.

I have to say that Brexit really unsettled me, made me feel very cross and I suppose realised that no matter how long I live here I will never feel "British". Maybe it's a cultural/historical thing but I have no desire to take out British citizenship & am dreading whatever onerous paperwork they foist on us to get permanent residency if Brexit goes ahead.

For the first time in years I have been thinking about the logistics of moving back. Eldest is at uni & could cope with staying here on her own. Younger ones are at secondary school so timing would be crucial as the two systems are so different for the last two years of school.

I've no idea if we could get work, probably unlikely for dh outside Dublin.

Does anyone else notice that all the coverage in the Irish news only looks at people who have been here only a few years? Personally I think it's much harder for those who moved 20/30 years ago & have older children who are more settled.

2nds Thu 21-Jul-16 07:17:39

I'm not away from 'home' as long as you guys, but I've no real intentions of moving back. OH has a great job here, he could work just about anywhere in the world but the best companies for him job wise are right here in the UK (that is until Brexit actually happens).

One of our children was born with a life threatening birth defect and although she's better now, I really don't want to take her out of her surgeon's follow up care so that's another reason to stay here, and also for this reason I wouldn't care if I can't have an Irish passport, some things take a backseat and this is one of them. My priorities have definitely shifted a lot since having the kids and I think I'd only really move back if something happened OH.

So no I'd be staying here if his job stays here.

middlings Thu 21-Jul-16 10:51:16

DearTeddyRobinson are you me? I could have written your post word for word.

Maybe it's because of the bit of Dublin we both seem to be from but I know I couldn't hack it. I genuinely think that my English DH would move to Ireland before I would.

Yes Brexit is dreadful, yes racism and xenophobia are on the rise but does anyone honestly think that's better in Ireland?? The much lauded education system also seems to be a thing of the past.

My home is here. I love our neighbourhood. We've built a "family" of close friends on which I know I can rely (and they know they can rely on us). I wouldn't trade it for all the ice-cream in Teddy's.

GloriousGusset Thu 21-Jul-16 11:05:41

I've been living in the UK for about 14 years (I think. So easy to lose track!) and have been gently musing a return home (and it does feel like home to me still) for a couple of years. Brexit and its depressing fallout has certainly made me think more seriously about it. I don't have any kids to consider so that certainly makes my position easier. The only thing that gives me pause is the housing market. I'd be moving back to Dublin and even renting there seems a mammoth task. Never mind persuading a bank to give you a mortgage!

Maybe the people who find the idea of Dublin too provincial are currently living in London? I can certainly understand it would feel like a pond after living there. But compared to other UK cities I personally think Dublin compares really well.

GloriousGusset Thu 21-Jul-16 11:06:45

And I'm from South Dublin too. The rugger bugger snobbery thing can be avoided.

MarDhea Thu 21-Jul-16 13:54:37

yes racism and xenophobia are on the rise but does anyone honestly think that's better in Ireland??

Yes, I do. It's something I've looked at pretty carefully, and while there is definitely racism present in Ireland, the extremes of the EDL and BNP just don't exist as a public presence, and the social acceptability of spouting racist views in public is far more restricted in Ireland than in England.

The people I live near in the UK are generally lovely, but some of our neighbours are downright racist and bang on about immigrants at every opportunity (more so since Brexit). I still spend a reasonable amount of time in Ireland, and my family members (both in Dublin and rurally) just don't hear that sort of racism from their neighbours. Xenophobic little-Englanders don't seem to have an equivalent in Ireland.

And more concretely, racially-motivated abuse and attacks are far less common per capita in Ireland than in England and Wales. Looking at stats collected by an anti-racism charity in Ireland (which tries to correct for underreporting to the police) and by police in England and Wales (which may be prone to underreporting), annual racist incidents stand at about 7 per 100,000 people in Ireland and 84 per 100,000 people in England and Wales. Even allowing for the different proportion of non-native ethnic populations (80% of England and Wales is white British vs. 87% of Ireland is white Irish), that's a pretty stark difference.

While there is definitely racism in Ireland, it's nowhere near the levels of the UK for various historical and cultural reasons.

The much lauded education system also seems to be a thing of the past.

No, not really. It's certainly different from when I was a child (though it still operates on a shoestring), but by every measure Ireland still does better than the UK. Again, it's something I've looked at quite closely, and Ireland consistently scores higher than the UK on OECD measures of educational attainment as well as on UNICEF child wellbeing rankings. That's a double win in my book.

There are certainly great individual schools in England/Wales, but they're operating against the tide of a rather poor national system that many teachers are leaving in droves. My subjective impression is that Ireland places a greater cultural value on education and teachers, which makes up in part for the underfunding.

But look, I don't want to turn it into a UK vs. Ireland debate of who has the biggest problems. It's great that some Irish people are happy and settled in the UK. However, those of us who are not that happy and are looking to go back are not necessarily doing it through misty eyes of idealism, and it's insulting to suggest that we are. Some of us have really examined the pros and cons in depth, and are careful to compare Ireland and the UK in the here and now (as opposed to Ireland when we left 10+ years ago versus the UK as it stands now). For me at least, Ireland is coming out as the better option.

middlings Thu 21-Jul-16 14:25:49

MarDhea I think we'll have to agree to differ here - and I've looked into all the points you raise very closely too. Does the charity you mention allow for reports of attacks against the travelling community? I'd say the level of xenophobia there is pretty strong. I think the case in Carrickmines last year speaks to that fairly strongly. I also spend quite a lot of time in Dublin and am horrified about the way I witness "non-nationals" (the use of that phrase alone turns my stomach) are treated. Particularly people from Eastern Europe. I see it in shops, cafés and on building sites. I'd say your underreporting is far more of an issue than the stats would even allow.

Regarding education, having spoken to a lot of my peers, the "Catholic" ethos in education seems to be getting stronger, not weaker, even in light of the campaigns around changing the patronage of education. Schools are horribly overcrowded and under-resourced and the level of "voluntary contribution" (and I use that phrase very advisedly) seems to be much higher than it is here. Even in more affluent areas. I understand and have long followed the OECD statistics on education but they are, frankly, limited and education has to be looked at in a much broader context.

Regarding the UNICEF report, what's interesting is if you look at stats like those on child poverty where actually, in Ireland, if a child falls below the poverty line they are far more likely to fall far further below it than in the UK. Like I said, lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Admittedly, I'm saying this from a London bubble but I witness, the 8th amendment standing, increasing religious creep into schools (and I was ET and then convent educated), increased xenophobia against all sorts of communities, a seriously crumbling health system - arguably EVEN if you're able to pay for it, and a worrying return of méféinsim that seems to have forgotten 2008 even happened.

GloriousGusset Thu 21-Jul-16 14:27:56

Personally I'm excited to see the gathering pace of the Repeal the 8th movement.

Decorhate Thu 21-Jul-16 17:15:37

Personally it's the atrocious health service that would be the main barrier to us going back.

I appreciate that with a small population it's impossible to have certain specialist services available outside Dublin. Have seen first hand my dad in poor health having to trek up to Dublin regularly & pay for a hotel as the treatment was too severe for him to make the return journey in one day.

Due to medical issues in my own family I like to stay near to the specialists in London.

MarDhea Thu 21-Jul-16 17:16:59

middlings I agree the stats can only ever be part of the picture, but they're a good way to mediate between conflicting anecdotal accounts of the prevalence (or not) of something in a society.

The anti-Traveller incidents do form part of the stats, yes - the group is ENAR Ireland. Again, I'm not denying racism exists in Ireland - of course it does! - but it's just far, far less intensive a problem than in the UK. For every Carrickmines, there's a racially motivated murder in Rotheram or Salford. Or even Kilburn, where a Traveller man was killed a couple of years ago for no other reason than being a Traveller.sad

I haven't encountered the creeping religiosity in schools that you mention, and it's something I've explicitly asked my family about as many of them are as atheist as I am. That said, it would be pretty hard to exceed the amount of religion I had shoved down my throat in a rural national school and convent secondary. I don't think religion has any place in schools, but as a pp said, the ET movement is growing exponentially at the moment, which is fantastic.

To note that Ireland still has a problem of child poverty in its most deprived areas is one negative amongst a majority of positives in the UNICEF data, which is why Ireland ranks relatively highly in the child wellbeing index. Nowhere is perfect. I'm more hopeful of Ireland improving its weak points in child wellbeing than the UK doing the same, simply because the UK has many more weak points to attend to and a Tory government who has shown itself to be disinclined to help the most vulnerable members of society.

It's fine to agree to disagree, and there's bad news and bad things happening in both countries. However, the things that are most important to me when I think about how I want my kids to grow up are in better shape in Ireland than in the UK. For me, that makes it worth swapping the crumbling but functional nhs for an overpriced private health service, or an easily affordable house for an expensive one, etc. Other people will have different priorities, of course, and that fine for them. No one needs to defend their decision to stay or go smile

DameDancealot Thu 21-Jul-16 17:28:22

Been over in the uk for 15 years now, moved over then met my now DH, originally from outside Dublin but we could never afford to live in Ireland now, car insurance , broadband much more expensive, no nhs

MarDhea Thu 21-Jul-16 17:38:30

Glorious I'm keeping an excited eye on the Repeal the 8th campaign too. I know a couple of people who are active campaigners and they're becoming increasingly hopeful of a referendum in the next couple of years. With polls showing a huge majority in favour of repeal, it would have an excellent chance of passing.

Even 5 or 6 years ago, it was unimaginable that an Irish government would have the nerve to hold a referendum on marriage equality (there's no votes in it, politicians are too afraid to piss off the bishops, etc). But look what happened: a referendum was held and it passed overwhelmingly!

Irish society is changing so rapidly at the moment, I can hardly keep track from the outside. I think the last truly religious generation are dying off, so the movers and shakers are increasingly socially progressive. My brother was recently back in Ireland for the first time in over a decade, and couldn't believe how liberal and outward-looking the country was compared to his memories of the early 2000s. And this was rural Ireland he was in, not Dublin. He's not planning on moving from his current anode (not the UK), but he's now a lot happier about visiting more often.

DearTeddyRobinson Thu 21-Jul-16 18:18:35

<waves at middlings>
<wonders if we went to the same school shock>
I hadn't even thought about the human rights side of things, I guess I can't get my head around a country that still treats women as 3rd class citizens and isn't called Saudi Arabia. I've never needed an abortion but I did have to have an erpc which was done on the NHS with speed and compassion, unlike that poor woman in the west of Ireland (Savita?).
Also PP makes a good point on the cost of living, medical care alone is shocking, never mind stuff like car tax, broadband etc.
And did I mention the shite weather?!

middlings Thu 21-Jul-16 19:31:42

Teddy let's not go down that road for fear of where we might end up grin

MarDhea I see where you're coming from and Brexit has truly broken my heart but on balance, the scales tip the other way for me - to each their own. I think there is an underlying parochialism that will take a good while to be washed out yet. That's not to say that things aren't very different and there are a lot with a very different mindset to the olden days.

The repealing of the 8th I can see. Actually then legislating on abortion? We're a very long way off that. Marriage was the easy one. Untying the forever pregnant Irish woman from the kitchen sink is a different matter.

I am in a horrifically cynical mood today!! I'm not usually like this, honest!

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