They made the big move from Ireland to the big city of New York in the summer of 1989. Two Irish teenagers, crazy in love, longing for change and excitement in their lives. ‘They’ being my parents. Change is what they got.
On moving away from home, my mother discovered she was pregnant. Nineteen, not married, no stable career and in a foreign country, she decided to keep it a secret. Scared and confused, my parents made the decision to put the child up for adoption. As the due date loomed, everything was set in stone and the baby's adoptive parents were awaiting the arrival of their newborn.
Then, my parents went to watch “Look Who’s Talking” in the movies, two weeks before the baby was due - their minds were changed. They made the best, most important decision of their lives, to keep the baby. Neither of their parents were impressed to say the least, finding out they were going to have a grandchild...in two weeks!
So, less than two weeks later, my sister Shauna was born. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for my parents, but they were thrilled. It was Christmas time. They ate a chicken dinner in an empty apartment with a priest that visited who took pity on them.
Eighteen months later, I came into the world. My parents lives had been turned around by the arrival of my sister and now it was going to change a hell of a lot more. I was a fat, fuzzy, whole bunch of crazy.
We settled in an apartment building on 205th street off the Grand Concourse, Bronx. My parents were the supers. Junkies, mafia, Irish, all walks of life occupied the building. It didn’t matter to my sister or I who they were, we talked to everyone. We were not one bit shy, but we couldn’t miss it.
Everyday we were meeting different people, when Mam would drag us around her ten different cleaning jobs and waitress job, and Dad would bring us to Gaelic Park anytime there was a game on, and then of course to the pub, occasionally.
Our lives were documented on my Dad’s cherished camcorder. We could make a movie.
In 1996, the time came to move to Ireland. Dad had spent time over the years between Ireland and New York building our new home, and now it was ready.
My favorite show used to be called, “Gulla Gulla Island”, so I renamed it, “Got to go to Ireland.” The move was very exciting. I was not sad to leave New York because I knew I would be back.
I started junior infants in my national school straight away and was bullied by the boys in senior infants because of my different accent. So, it had to go. I converted myself to an Irish child as soon as I could.
I joined the Gaelic football and camogie teams and started Irish dancing. I soon became a total tomboy. I lived in every Arsenal jersey of my time, going back to the ‘JVC’ ones and any colour of O’Neills tracksuit bottoms there is out there.
I loved Ireland and the country. As kids we would go to the lake to go fishing in my grandads trailer and with my other Grandad, we would go to the bog in the trailer. Completely illegal, but great craic. We also ran through fields away from cows for a thrill, jumped bails, went on tractor rides and explored every ‘haunted’ house in the area. Every evening coming home filthy, but it would be no fun if you stayed clean.
Even though I was a little bit of a tearaway, I always did well in school. When we were asked to write one page on “When I Grow Up”, mine went on for maybe ten pages. “I want to live in New York. I want a nice car. I want a big house. I want to be an actress. I want to have a pet parrot, a pet snake and one dog.”
So I guess even though I absolutely loved growing up in Ireland, and I would not change it for the world, I was always destined to move back to New York. That, I have fulfilled. I have my license, but I do not have a car because to be fair, I don’t really think it’s safe for other New York drivers- I’ll stick to the subway and cabs. I don’t have a big house, yet, because I am never home. I am not an actress, I don’t need to be because I’m already dramatic enough. I have no pets. Any that I have had over the years did not work out. I killed my two goldfish, my dog ran away and a fox ate my hens.
But, I’m still not a ‘grown-up’ yet. So maybe all those dreams will come true, one day.
Even though I am not a grown-up, I have to act mature. I guess I am somewhat independent, making the move to New York without my family at the age of nineteen, like my parents did. Of course, I party-which is what every nineteen year old does but I took on some extra responsibilities, I pay my own rent, my bills, I work, I go to school and I play football.
I have learned so much in this past year but I am still the same person. A lot has happened, but you just have to keep going and be strong. It has not been an easy ride, but it is enjoyable and an amazing learning and life experience.
I don’t have a clue where my life is going to take me, but for now I am settled in New York. I need to slow things down. I’m getting old. I’m turning 21 in September!
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