I hear the rev of an engine before I see it. In the distance it sounds like the driver is struggling to get it up the hill. I slow down to below 20 miles an hour.

If my instincts are correct, approximately a mile down the road I’m about to meet a man driving a truck, and attached to the back of that truck is the last part of our lives in New York.

And yes, I’m right. There he is, pulled in off the bohereen which in the past week has become a familiar sight.

We moved to the Limerick countryside, and now struggling to get around the country bends was our container full of all our stuff from New York. The same container that took John, my husband, and seven of his friends a full Saturday afternoon to pack before it set sail across the Atlantic for our new home in Ireland. That was seven weeks ago and today it’s finally here.

As soon as the container came into my line of vision a lump formed in my throat. I was surprised.

Why was I tearing up? I was beyond excited to get everything into our new house so such emotion was strange.

People have told me since it was a very natural reaction to have. I suppose the container and all of its contents symbolizes the end of our New York life for good. A sad thought!

I was quick to compose myself as I had to hop out of my car to ask the driver of the truck to follow me back up the bohereen to our new abode.  

As I mentioned in previous articles, it was next to impossible to find an unfurnished home in Limerick. The house we finally got is just beautiful. We call it South Fork.

It’s pretty big, way too big for John, our 19-month old son Colum, Sadie, (four-months) and I, but it’s beautiful, so until we buy a house in a year or two we will live like kings and enjoy the peace and tranquility that country life brings.

The nearest house is about a quarter of a mile down the road. All we can see from the back of the house is rolling green hills, cows grazing, horses running and birds flying.

There isn’t a sound to be heard, it’s truly breathtaking. And a little scary at night when John goes to work (he started the night shift in his company -- they make contact lenses -- this week.)
Neither John nor I grew up in the country, so it’s all very new and exciting for us Mooneys. It may not suit us.

We said we will give it a year, and if we like the countryside we will then look at possibly buying a house there. We are only 12 minutes to town, John’s job is 14 minutes away and the kids’ day care is about the same distance.

We are only five minutes off the motorway which leads to Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, and Kerry so everything is really at our fingertips.

Colum is in his element running around the back garden.  Sadie is just content anywhere.

John rallied up the troops for the unloading of the container. His good friend Tony Collins, a returned immigrant himself, brought along his two teenage nephews, Sean and Kieran, to help with the heavy work, and John’s two cousins also showed up for the unload. It only took a little over an hour to get everything out of the container and into the proper rooms in the house.

And off the driver went on his way with an empty container ready to be shipped back to New York for the next person to pack their lives into. Another teary moment as he pulled out of the driveway.

So now I’m left with a big house and an even bigger mess. I’m beginning to think it will take the full year to unpack everything neatly, find somewhere to house the bits and keep it all clean at the same time.

LAST week was a bit up in the air.  We had spent a great weekend in Lahinch, Co. Clare. It’s a fantastic, scenic, lively seaside town.

John’s sister and her husband kindly offered us the use of their mobile home for a few days and we had a mighty weekend. Although it rained non-stop, we made the most of the time away.

We got use out of our New York purchased raincoats, had some nice take-aways (and home cooked meals courtesy of Ken and Fiona), watched dozens of young people and not so young people learn to surf, strolled the promenade many times, ate ice cream and sweets at Mauds, had morning coffee and scones overlooking the sea, and most of all had some great laughs with John’s family at the mobile home park.

After returning from the weekend it was time for Colum and Sadie to start day care (or crèche as they call it here) full time.

Colum is not very happy to be leaving his mommy and daddy every morning. He clings on for dear life to our necks when we drop him off. They tell me he is fine a while after, but it’s hard for any mother to leave her child in such a state.

Sadie on the other hand doesn’t miss us one bit and just smiles all day.

Then there was the matter of getting into the house, getting it cleaned before the arrival of all our furniture and getting a new car we bought taxed, insured and serviced.

Also making sense of the refuse collection services here, discovering which satellite television company is the best, buying a kettle, toaster and microwave, switching over the electric bill to our name … the list goes on. It’s all part and parcel of moving into a new home, and with all that comes a lot of grey hairs.

Unfortunately with the arrival of our furniture we missed the Fourth of July celebrations. I had grand plans to take the family to New Ross in Co. Wexford where there was an Irish American day being held.

Instead I threw clothing that marked the occasion on the kids, shipped them off to day care and spent the day knee deep in moving boxes, cleaning products and headache tablets.

I may be occupied now getting things into a place in the house where I can find them again, but I’ve already begun planning all the parties I’m going to throw now that we have our own place in Ireland.

An 1980s fancy dress for John’s birthday in August, a girly night with my friends from Tralee, a Halloween and Christmas party, and of course Colum’s second birthday party in November -- and that’s all this side of Christmas.

In order for all that to happen, however, I need to get my skates on and continue the unpacking.  

IT’S a nice surprise to open a box and not remember what’s inside. Sometimes it’s basic kitchen utensils, bed sheets and bathroom towels.
Other times I find clothes I forgot I bought, unopened or unused wedding gifts that we could never display in our apartment in New York because of space constraints, and then there are the going away cards.

Foolishly, I began reading some of the kind messages written by our New York friends before our departure. For the first time since our return home I’m lonely for the Empire State, or more so for the people we left behind.

It was when I re-read Marion’s (my best friend in New York) card that out came the sobs. I tried to hold them back as I read her words, beautiful words about our friendship the past nine years, but I couldn’t help myself.

It stung to know it will be a long time before I see Marion and many of our good friends again. The downside to our new lives in Ireland I suppose. It’s always bitter sweet isn’t it?

But I have hundreds of photos to document the great times we had in the country that brought John and I together and gave us two wonderful babies. And when all the unpacking is done I will, one by one, put each picture into individual sleeves in pretty albums, and when I’m sad again I can look back on the good times, the pretty faces and smile when I see the memories we created in New York. 

Colum and Sadie Mooney wearing their 4th July gearApril Drew