Margaret Reilly and her daughter Jenny did not wish to be photographed by the Irish Voice. This is because the Kildare mother and daughter team have not told their workmates that they are in New York.
“People are really jealous now that there is a recession and they can’t get what they want,” says Jenny.
An office assistant in Naas, Jenny says this time last year all of her friends were going shopping in New York. “It wasn’t a big deal at all. But now if you say you’re going, people express shock and disbelief that you can afford to, especially in this economy,” she says.
Margaret and Jenny have been shopping in New York every December for the past five years, and don’t intend on breaking the trend.
“If we give ourselves enough notice to save, and we don’t go totally mad, I say why not,” Margaret says.
She says the recession has affected her greatly, therefore her shopping budget this year is one-third of last year’s.
Jenny lives with her partner, who is currently unemployed.
“He is not happy with me going over here, but he doesn’t realize that I am in fact saving money overall,” she says.
While Margaret is being careful and sticking to a strict budget, Jenny is not having any second thoughts. “You only live once,” she laughs.
The Reillys admit that there is a reduced presence of Irish people in New York, but they are still surprised at the amount of Irish here.
“Our plane was packed with Irish, the hotel is full of them, and I hear them around the shops, so the recession is not as bad as the media make it out to be,” says Margaret.
Jenny explains that she would rather lie to her workmates about her week off work than face smart comments fueled by jealousy. She suspects there are many more Irish like her. Perhaps that is why many Irish people in Macy’s did not want to speak with the Irish Voice.
It seems that the Irish people have got their taste for the variety and value of shopping in New York, and that they will keep coming, recession or not.