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.”
Rita Delaney, from Co. Offaly, also lived in Boston for 17 years before returning to Ireland in September.
“It was now or never,” Delaney told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.
“It’s something I’ve always said I wanted to do -- and the longer you stay away the harder it is to move back so I felt it was the right time,” she said.
After losing her job here in the administration field Delaney, 50, made the life changing decision to return to Ireland, a country she now realizes “is a complete mess.”
“I guess I always had this fantasy of living back in Ireland and it being wonderful, but I haven’t had much of that lovie dovie feeling recently,” jokes Delaney, while saying it’s pouring rain outside and everything looks grim.
“There are so few jobs it’s really not great here,” she said.
While actively searching for a job on a daily basis, Delaney, who paid years of taxes while working in Ireland before moving to Boston when she was 33, assumed she would be entitled to the job seekers allowance the Irish government provides, about $260 a week.
“I was told because I didn’t have habitual residency that I wasn’t entitled to any money,” she said.
Habitual resident means you must be living in Ireland for a certain number of years before being granted social welfare payments. Community welfare officers in the case of supplementary welfare allowance will decide whether a person satisfies the habitual residence condition.
Delaney was told she needed to be in the country two-plus years before qualifying.
“It’s just ridiculous, and what’s worse is that the people in the social welfare offices were so rude and basically told me to go back to Boston,” she said.
Since her return Delaney has been staying with friends in Dublin and living on what little savings she made in the U.S. She has been actively pursuing a job but to date has not had any luck finding something.
Delaney is currently appealing the job seekers allowance issue and hoping that her case will be reviewed sooner rather than later.
“I really want to stay here but who knows, in two weeks I may be all set to go back to Boston,” she said.
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