This is an open letter to Irish Voice columnist April Drew who is moving back home to Ireland with her lovely family. You have probably heard good and bad stories from people who have already made the move, so I thought I would write about the experience my family had when we moved.

“Home” will never be the same as when you left it. People told me before we moved back that when you leave and return after being away that it is never the same, but I kept thinking they were wrong, that I was the same fella who left back in 1987.

But take it from me and my family. Ireland is not and never will be the same for you.

I moved here in 1987. I married and was blessed with two beautiful kids. We all moved back to my hometown in the Limerick countryside in 2007.

We had a four-bedroom house built on a one acre site with the three acres that we bought next door at a considerable price. We shipped home everything, from knives and forks to lawnmowers, power washers, tools, furniture, toys and even a large swing set that you would not see in most playgrounds at home.

I worked in landscaping here for 20 years. When I moved back I could not get a job landscaping. I was told I was too experienced, even when I said I would start at the bottom and work up.

I eventually got a job from a paving company for €100 a day. I did all the digging, lifting and whatever else was needed – 11 hours a day including travel.

But business got slow and I was let go. I got another job – I’m not allowed to say where because I had to sign a form – but let’s say that my life was threatened by addicts many times, so I had to leave the job.

We decided to move back to the U.S. in 2009. We are so glad we did.


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For the two years we were home we had three barbeques. We would look at our swing set and wonder if we would ever get a chance to let the kids play on it because of the miserable weather.  Our son has asthma, and I was not going to take him or his sister out in the damp, cold rain.

I landscaped our house, put in a large patio, built steps to match the patio and fenced in the whole place. It looked beautiful. We had the most amazing views from our elevated site – but it just wasn’t the same.

We are so happy back here in the U.S. – our home. Our kids are involved in so many activities and have so many friends and playdates. I wish my car ran on water.

When we were home people looked at us like we were rich Yanks, and some even called us that. 

People said they would stop over but they never did – they just kept doing their own thing.

I used to do side jobs on the weekends to make ends meet, and I was called a money-hungry Yank. I did this to pay all of our mounting bills.

We got to go out once every other month because of the expense between a sitter, taxis and drink money. We were better off at home watching The Late Late Show.

I could write a book about our two years back in Ireland – the speed on the roads, not feeling safe in your own home if someone comes late at night, the health system, etc.

April, I am not telling you not to move back, but I just wanted you to know about the very costly mistake we made. Best wishes to you.

G. Cagney
Closter, New Jersey

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