My Irish Homecoming - We’re back home but so many are leaving


There were four in a bed and the little one said… It’s 8:20 a.m. in rainy Limerick and the Mooney family is all snuggled up in bed.

We just moved back to Ireland from New York where I worked with Irish Voice newspaper for many years. Now it is time to face realities back here. 

John is on the Internet researching best man speeches – his best friend/cousin Eoin Markham is getting married on Friday in Galway. Colum (18-months) is guzzling a cup of milk, Sadie (3-months) is very busy trying to turn over, and well, I’m on the laptop writing this.

It’s nice when it’s raining in Ireland to be wrapped up in duvet covers listening to the slush of car tires as they pass by on the wet road and know that all those rain coats I purchased in New York before leaving will be put to good use.

It’s been a busy week in the Mooney household. We’ve been traipsing around Limerick viewing houses to rent for the foreseeable future.

It’s proving a very difficult task to get an unfurnished home. It’s customary in Ireland to rent a house fully furnished. Very handy if your starting out in life, but not so useful if you have a container full of American furniture about to land in Ireland any day now.

There are only about 10 unfurnished homes in the whole of Limerick. We are talking to some more real estate agents today so will see.

It was the June bank holiday weekend here. (Monday was a day off). Following on from the beautiful weather the previous week people bought burgers and beer in the hope of throwing barbeques.

Unfortunately Limerick and Kerry were a wash out on Saturday. It was the first time it rained since our return 10 days earlier.

In Tralee, my home town, I was adamant not to let the rain deter me from my plans, so at about 10 a.m. on Saturday morning I threw on one of those recently purchased fancy rain coats, put Sadie in a rain proof stroller and walked into Tralee town from my mother’s house (only about 20 minutes).

It was nice. It was the first time since our arrival home that it felt like the old Ireland I knew, rainy and cool, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

The rest of the nation didn’t, however. Everyone I met commented about the rain.

“It’s an awful day out there isn’t it,” said a shop keeper while charging me $5 for a sandwich.

“You’re a brave woman taking that baby out in this weather,” said a disgruntled looking middle aged man as we shared a footpath.

“I was supposed to wear a dress out to dinner tonight but the fake tan will run off my legs if this rain continues so I’m going to wear the new jeans I got from Penneys,” said one of my friends.

I think we all know Irish people are a little obsessed about the rain – it dominates every conversation and is the only ice-breaker used when you first meet someone.

But what I quickly learned after a few days in Ireland is that it isn’t just the rain we are obsessed with -- it’s any kind of climate.

People complained throughout the 10 days of beautiful weather we had before the rain crept back down from the mountains.

“It’s way too hot,” said almost everyone.

“I wish it would drop a few degrees because if this continues I’ll have to give up work,” joked a man doing his garden.

It was only about 78 degrees, maybe 82 at the highest.

But despite the up and down weather over the weekend I managed to catch up with some of my best friends for a girl’s weekend. Two of my closest friends, Niamh, a teacher, and Michelle, a doctor, have both had two kids each since I left for New York nine years ago.

Saturday was the first time in nine years all of us were together with our babies. We sat back and laughed at how much we had accomplished in such a short period of time.

Colum was mesmerized by Niamh’s oldest daughter Eabha. He made every attempt possible to hold her hand. It was adorable.

It didn’t feel that long ago that we were outside in the green area of our housing estate playing rounders, the Irish equivalent to baseball, and chasing boys.

On Saturday night we left the babies at home and 12 of us sat around one of Tralee’s finest restaurants, Denny Lane, drinking wine and catching up on the past nine years. It was a fantastic night – one that doesn’t happen much now for the girls since the recession, but a night that we promised will be repeated again in the not so distant future. 

I recently had a stroll around a local shopping center near John’s mom’s house in Limerick. I was disappointed, but not surprised I guess, to see many of the previously occupied shop units empty.

As Dunnes Stores consumed a number of units on one side of the mall, the other side was nearly void of life except for a phone and sports store (both are chains).

Two and a half years ago when we were home for our wedding most of these units were open but struggling I guess. The recession finally caught up to them.