“What really got me was he had antique swords, guns, daggers all over the walls, plus this guy was covered in tattoos. We exchanged pleasantries, but it was not going to happen,” said O’Leary.
Kate O’Neill, 27, from Newbridge, Co. Kildare says that moving to New York City was her way of fulfilling a lifelong dream. She told the Irish Voice she was “absolutely delighted to be leaving Ireland,” adding,
“Ireland’s really not that far away, and with Skype you never feel too homesick.”
“I arrived in New York mid-January of this year,” she told the Irish Voice. “I’ve always dreamed of living in New York, so when I heard about the new J1 graduate visa I jumped at the opportunity of relocating here.
“Regardless of Ireland’s economic woes, I still would have moved here,” says the Brooklyn resident.
O’Neill says the biggest challenge of relocating to New York with a group of friends was finding work.
“It’s much more difficult to secure a job here. The market is very slow. It’s also a drawback having a one-year visa, as employers are very hesitant to hire you full-time when they think you’re going to be leaving in a year,” she says.
“It takes some time to become established, and it was challenging looking for accommodation and a job simultaneously. Contrary to what you hear about New Yorkers, they’re actually very friendly, really helpful, and exceptionally mannerly,” says O’Neill.
Chatting to the Irish Voice, 21-year-old Adrian from Co. Roscommon says he was out of work in Ireland for almost a year before he and his girlfriend emigrated to the U.S.
“My parents didn’t want me to go, they were worried,” said the Athleague man, who studied bar management in Ireland.
When his work dried up delivering milk in Ireland, Adrian found that there were few jobs available.
“There was no work. I used to work with my father during the summer, helping out with silage on the farm,” says Adrian.
Disillusioned by the state of the economy, Adrian and his girlfriend Carmel decided to relocate to New York last October, where Carmel’s brother has lived for the last 14 years.
“Carmel arrived two weeks before me. I stayed at home to finish the hurling season and then followed her,” said Adrian. “She had been here before, but this was my first trip.”
With only temporary tourist status, the couple found it difficult to find work.
“Trying to find work, you need a Social Security number for everything. There is always something,” he said.
Eventually they both found jobs, Adrian in construction and Carmel as a bartender. Earning money and settling into their new lives, the couple decided to overstay their temporary holiday visas.
After living with family in Westchester when they first arrived, the couple recently moved to Woodlawn in the Bronx, a Mecca for the Irish-American community.
A keen sports enthusiast, Adrian says that the Irish community in Woodlawn and playinghurling with Galway are two of his favorite things about his new life here. But he admits that Roscommon is never far from his thoughts.
“It’s a hard decision to make. I get lonely sometimes and she (Carmel) gets homesick,” he says.
Coming from different backgrounds and having different outlooks on their new lives here in New York, the newcomers are in agreement regarding their sentiment on returning to Ireland.
From the Bronx Adrian admits that he and Carmel intend to stay in New York at least “a couple of years.
“We are not sure how long,” he adds.
In Brooklyn Kate O’Neill says that returning to Ireland is not in her short term plans.
“I don’t see myself returning for the foreseeable future. I plan on staying here for a few years, granted I get sponsored,” she hopes.