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A group of Irish volunteers out in the Rockaways.

The Irish Homecoming - Proud of New Yorkers for stepping up and tough out Sandy devastation

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A group of Irish volunteers out in the Rockaways.

The answer was ****575. This is a big chunk of change.

During the boom this was half of Power’s weekly wage; she worked at a prestigious accountancy firm. Power kept her job but her husband, who worked in an IT company, was made redundant two years ago and has yet to find a suitable replacement job.  They now live on her income solely, and it’s all they fight about.

“Every time we have an argument he throws the car in my face. I know I was stupid buying him a car but I thought at the time we could afford it and he was big into cars,” she said.

“In hindsight if I had known the financial strain and the upset it has caused in our relationship I would have bought him an electric razor.”

There was a wonderful article in the Sunday Independent a few weeks back. It was all about the ingredients to happiness. A survey revealed that money and material things were bottom of the list. Some of the typical answers were as follows:

“I’m at my happiest when I’m playing with my children.”

“There is nothing that makes me happier than a cup of tea in front of a roaring fire watching Coronation Street with my dog.”

“Going for a walk on the beach in the rain.”

“Playing golf, spending a Sunday afternoon at my parents’ house with all the family and a long bath.”

Travel didn’t even come into it. People found happiness in the simple pleasures in life, pleasures we had forgotten about during the Celtic Tiger when money attempted to dominate our social status and the value we put on oneself. It’s nice that we can be happy without it being dependent on our take home pay.

“Losing my job was the best thing that happened to me,” Patrick Pollard told me during a chance meeting through mutual friends in Limerick last week.

“I was only interested in girls who shopped in Brown Thomas (Ireland’s answer to Saks), would only go to the most expensive restaurants for dinner and to keep up with my friends I took three to four holidays a year,” explained Pollard.

“I was exhausted and wasn’t saving a penny.”

During a routine check-up Pollard’s doctor discovered a lump under his arm which “scared the life out of me.”  He spent four weeks in the depths of depression while he waited for the results of a biopsy on the lump.

It turned out it was a non-cancerous cyst, but the ordeal put the fright of God in him.

“It suddenly put everything in perspective. You can just imagine what was going through my mind those few weeks while I waited to see if I was going to have the big C,” he shared.

Pollard swallowed a bottle of cop on as they say in Ireland, and took stock of himself quickly.

“I realized that I didn’t enjoy traveling so much, I’m a home bird, and I hated duck (which he ordered to be posh in those expensive restaurants.)”

Since finding happiness in his “normal day to day life” Pollard admits “life has never been better.”

“Do you know what I love doing now?” he asked rhetorically.

“I go home to my house at night, cook dinner for my girlfriend – who has never been inside the door of Brown Thomas -- light a fire and about 9 p.m. we sit down together, talk about what we did that day – sometimes over a glass of wine -- and catch up on our television programs. That’s the ingredients of our happy lives,” he said.

And I’m with Pollard. Being a mom, the best part of my day is the drive up to the daycare after work to pick up our babies, Colum and Sadie.

And after a few hours of dinners, clean up and fun with the kids I get excited to sit down with a cup of tea and a caramel slice with my husband (who sometimes makes me share the cookie) and watch the latest episode of The X-Factor or Homeland. It’s the simple things isn’t it!

We will continue to pray for you New York, and I will say an extra special one for all of you wonderful Irish people over there doing your bit to help people realize that it’s the small things that will eventually make them happy again. Stay safe.  

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