Struggling to survive back home
Irish who left America are struggling
Diane O’Leary and her husband Donnach returned to Ireland in December 2005, during the height of the Celtic Tiger boom, but are recently feeling the pinch of the recession.
O’Leary and her then fiancée, who live in Co. Kerry, planned to visit New York for three months but stayed three years.
“We moved home in the end because we felt it was time, plus we are both home birds,” said O’Leary, who recently gave birth to a baby boy.
Both secured employment immediately, her husband in his field of construction, and the couple is still working, but money isn’t the same as it used to be.
“It’s so much harder now financially than when we first moved home. We really have to watch our spending, and life can be difficult trying to make ends meet,” she admitted.
Upon their return the O’Learys built a big house during the boom and are now met with high mortgage payments at the end of every month.
“Trying to pay a mortgage that is ridiculously high is very hard, and of course the price of everything for a young baby is crazy too so it’s tough to be honest,” O’Leary said honestly.
O’Leary, who misses the “freedom” of life in New York, said despite the financial difficulties they face on a day to day basis, they love the “security of having family nearby” and wouldn’t consider moving back to the U.S.
“We’ll struggle on and get through it like everyone else,” she said optimistically.
Brendan O’Donovan, 36, lived in Boston for 10 years before returning to Co. Tipperary in 2006.
O’Donovan, a carpenter by trade, spent most of 2006 and 2007 working with family and “made a few pounds.”
O’Donovan, who moved back to Ireland because his girlfriend at the time wanted to, told the Irish Voice that his first year and a half back home was a success.
“I really thought I’d made the right decision. I was bringing home anywhere between €800 and €1,000 a week and for Ireland that was great,” said O’Donovan.
Today the Co. Tipperary man is lucky to make €300 a week.
“I am lucky to get two jobs a week and that just about keeps me going. There are some weeks, if I’m being honest, I could spend looking out the window because it’s that quiet,” he said.
O’Donovan, who “was lucky to have bought a house before the prices of houses went through the roof,” has a mortgage “that is manageable,” but recently had to sell his Jeep and downgrade to a smaller car.
“In America I was used to a fairly decent income, I had two cars on the road, a lovely apartment that we rented and I can safely say about five holidays a year,” he said.
“In Ireland the farthest I’ve been in two years is a wedding in Dublin.”
O’Donovan said he “can’t return” to the U.S. because of visa issues, but in the morning, “hand on my heart” if a visa opportunity arose, he would be on the “next plane out of Ireland.”
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