Irish of all backgrounds continue to come to New York as the recession at home continues to bite. MOLLY MULDOON speaks to some of the newest arrivals.
In a transient city like New York, the ebb and flow of the surroundings are shaped by the people who occupy the space. The eclectic groups leave their trademarks in disparate localities contained in the five burrows.
The Polish in Greenpoint; the Greeks in Astoria; the Asians in Flushing; the Mexicans in Spanish Harlem and the Irish in Woodlawn.
Seasoned New Yorkers look on in awe as their home turf is constantly invaded by outsiders, eager to experience life in fast lane in one of the world’s greatest cities.
The Irish have a historical connection to U.S. and have flocked here in droves for centuries. The new wave of immigration from the homeland has been described as a brain drain, a calamity and a yet another product of the failings of the former Irish government.
As countless Irish emigrants board planes destined for far-flung places around the world, they are collectively resigned to an element of uncertainty that clouds their future.
As the plane screeches off the runway I imagine few are thinking about corrupt bankers, or the Celtic Tiger. Their thoughts and concerns regard the future and the possibilities that lay ahead of them in a foreign place they hope to call home.
“Honestly, I didn’t look over my shoulder once as I was flying out of Dublin, not out of any sort of resentment towards Ireland and the state of the country, more to do with excitement as to what was ahead,” said one new arrival.
“I didn’t want to be constantly wishing I was back home or wishing for my old routine. It’s too easy. I said I might never get this opportunity ever again, so what’s the point in looking back.”
Mark O’Leary was dressed in a pair of summer shorts when I first met him on a mild Friday evening just days after St. Patrick’s Day. The Killarney, Co. Kerry man had just arrived in New York and was about to embark on a six month internship with the International Advocacy Program of Amnesty International’s United Nations.
Having never touched down in the Big Apple previous to relocating here, he was slowly assimilating.
“It’s bigger than I expected, far more multicultural than I imagined, but when I did arrive over I thought surely it will be great craic, and so far it hasn’t disappointed,” he told the Irish Voice.
Like the countless other Irish people are that are flocking to New York, O’Leary is highly educated.
His qualifications include a bachelor’s in anthropology and history, a master’s in anthropology and development studies and another master’s in international security and conflict studies.
But despite spending a large proportion of his twenties in Ireland’s premier universities, upon graduation O’Leary found that employment prospects in Ireland were slim.
“Ireland doesn’t have a lot going for it in terms of political science careers,” he reflected.
Not distracted by the big city and bright lights, the Kerry man was on the hunt for an apartment when the Irish Voice spoke to him, as he familiarized himself with the siege of finding suitable lodgings.
Recently introduced to the wonders of Craigslist, the 28-year-old was not overly impressed by his dealings so far, describing one bedroom is viewed as an extended hallway.