Irish people traveled to New York in their droves last week to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and a recession back home was the last thing on their minds.
Nora and John O’Shea, visiting New York from Co. Clare last week, told the Irish Voice while enjoying the St. Patrick’s celebrations in Yonkers that they borrowed money for the trip.
“To be honest we really shouldn’t have come, but after my parents said they would loan us a few euros we booked the trip and we are delighted we came,” shared Nora.
John, who works for a pharmaceutical company in Co. Limerick, received two pay cuts in the past year, and Nora has been out of work since before Christmas.
“I used to mind three children full time, but their mother lost her job so then I lost mine,” she said.
The O’Sheas had never been to the U.S. “We got married in 2009 and planned to come to New York for our honeymoon but that fell through, so it really was a case of now or never while we still have a few pounds coming in,” said John, explaining his job is not very secure.
Nora said she would have liked to “have seen a Broadway show, visit the Statue of Liberty and gone to Woodbury Commons” on a shopping trip, but “we just didn’t have the money for it all.”
Staying with relations in Yonkers gave them a few extra bucks in their pockets to travel in and out of Manhattan to enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“We had a ball here and made every second and penny count,” said Nora.
Doireann Barrett and her nine-year-old son Jack Barrett Rowan booked their flights to New York nearly a year ago. Jack paid for his passage with the money he made from his Holy Communion.
“We got a good deal on the flights and stayed with friends and family for the week so that made coming here a lot more affordable,” said the Co. Kerry native.
When the flights were booked the 32-year-old auctioneer was in full-time employment and had promised her son she would take him to New York to celebrate his ninth birthday on March 15.
When her hours were cut down to three days a week later in the year she worried about being able to afford her trip to the Big Apple.
“I had promised Jack so canceling the trip wasn’t an option. I knew I’d figure something out,” she told the Irish Voice last week.
Barrett, who normally has a busy social life back in Ireland, sacrificed several nights out so she could save enough money to come to New York.
“You only live once, and this was such a special trip,” said Barrett.
“We had an amazing time meeting friends, being part of the biggest parade in the world, seeing Michael Flatley walking on the street and attending a cousin’s wedding in Philadelphia.”
Barrett, who has been in New York a few times, found the city more expensive than previous trips.
“Maybe it was because I was watching what I spent more cautiously, but I really thought everything was a little dearer this time around,” she said.
Although every girl loves to shop when she comes to New York, Barrett was on a tight budget so very little was purchased.
“We did splash out a little though for Jack’s birthday on Tuesday -- how could we not when we were in New York?” she laughed.
Jack told the Irish Voice he “would love to come back to New York again next year” and plans to save his pocket money.
The best part of the trip for the young man was meeting Irish boxer Andy Lee.
“It was so cool, I even got his autograph and picture with him,” squealed the young boy.
Noel Green, a Co. Leitrim plumber, flew to New York on Tuesday, March 15 for four days.
“I needed the break,” said Green. “Ireland is in such a bad place right now and I really needed to get out of it to clear my head.
“I just about scraped together a bit of money for the trip and put a few rounds (of drink) on my Visa card.”
Green, who has been working on and off for the past year, is planning on returning to New York if he can secure a working visa.
“This is the place to be. The Irish people I know here haven’t a care in the world. They are working full-time, spending what they like and enjoying life like we all should be,” he said.
Green, a single 29-year-old, spent St. Patrick’s Day “on the beer in the city” and enjoyed the hospitality shown to him by New Yorkers.
“Everyone was so friendly, I was really amazed and it added to the day,” he said.
Green plans to contact the American Embassy in Dublin in the coming weeks to see if there is a way he can secure a visa to come and work in the U.S. legally.
“I’m going to do my best to get back here. I’ve nothing to lose,” he said.