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Migrating To Ireland - a case history

Last updated 01:28 02/05/1996 by Patrick Mackin ( patmack@vector.net ) of Gainesville, FL, USA

We read with great interest your article "Migrating to Ireland" which led us to believe that you might be interested in knowing about our plans for our migration to Ireland. If the efforts come to fruition, we hope to take up residence in Ireland, starting in mid-to-late 1997. We spent 16 marvelous days there in September 1995 and will return for a brief visit in October of this year. Plans for 1997 have been in the works already for over a year, greatly enhanced by the 1995 visit and assistance from two friends in Dublin, John and Margaret Henahan. Before telling you about a few of the trials and tribulations that we have already encountered in planning for Ireland-97, a bit of our history might place us in some perspective.

We are two senior citizens, Patrick and Patricia Mackin. Patrick (68) is a semi-retired community college instructor whose ancestors: parents, brothers, and all known before them originated in the village of Hilden, Lisburn, in Northern Ireland. Generations of Mackin, Hughes, Ring, Hagan family members lived in Hilden in which the Barbour Linen Mill provided the source of their employment, housing, and schools. During our 1995 trip we visited the mill and The Irish Linen Centre at Lisburn Museum, an impressive building in which the definitive story of Irish linen is told. It was not without quite some difficulty that Patrick now holds dual citizenship in Ireland and the U.S., with passports from both countries. One of Patrick's pursuits is genealogy which has enabled him to trace and computerize records of his Irish predecessors back to great, great grandparents as early as 1795. Patrick envisions returning to his ancestral home as the final journey for one constituent of the Irish Diaspora.

Patricia (Kiely) Mackin (63) is a medical secretary whose Irish lineage is spread over several parts of Ireland - Longford, Tipperary, and Cork. Tracing Patricia's Irish ancestry has proven to be much more difficult primarily because of missing civil as well as church records and the lack of a "family center" such Patrick's family enjoyed. The end of the trail appears to be circa 1850 in Longford where records cannot be located for her grandmother Ellen Cassidy. But this has not deterred neither Patricia nor Patrick and the search will be intensified when we are living in Ireland.

The experience of moving to a new home in another land is not new to the Mackins, with the result that plans for Ireland-97 have not been without precedent. In the 1960's the Mackins, including five children and a dog, packed up to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which was as beautiful as the travel posters portray, but learning Portuguese was not the least of the travails encountered. Once again, in the mid-1970's the family struck out for Santiago, Chile, to encounter the assassination of Salvadore Allende, followed by massive inflation - 75-100% per month. Life during these experiences was challenging, yet stimulating. The children specially coped with the language barriers while studying in the Escola Americana in Rio and Nido de Aguillas in Santiago.

George Bernard Shaw's admonition notwithstanding, at least the move to Ireland will not be encumbered by language problems, but there are, and will be, other elements with which we must cope. We determined early on that our lives in Ireland would be greatly enhanced by holding Irish citizenship. Patrick managed to gather the multitude of forms, documents, and notarizations required by the Irish consulate in New York City. But despite having paid meticulous attention to the instructions, on presentation of everything, in person, at the consulate, he learned he had the "wrong forms" - apparently there was a language barrier, Patrick had been too long away from his parent's brogue. But rescue came in the person of a gentle lady in the passport office in Dublin in 1995 who offered both advice and solace, accepted all the documentation, and in a few weeks Patrick's Irish passport was in hand. It is not merely a travel agent's cliché, the Irish are truly, a most friendly people. Since Patricia is eligible by Irish law based on Patrick's status, we will process her application in Dublin during our October visit.

Housing, taxes, bureaucracy, retirement community, background information were a few of the many topics on which we gathered information while browsing on the Internet and the world wide web. Many of the Irish governmental and social agencies have web sites and e-mail addresses, easing and speeding the exchange of information. Reading the Irish Times on the computer keeps us informed of daily life in Ireland while frequent e-mail messages with friends in Dublin and Lisburn provide insights known only to those living their daily lives in Ireland. Moving to a new home is a time-consuming task in the best of circumstances. When that responsibility involves a move of thousands of miles to a new country, it generates virtual endless lists of "things to be done" (TBD) - our TBD lists are under continual revision and seemingly one list is hardly completed when another appears.

The Irish immigrants arriving in the U.S. generations ago faced hardships for which they had little opportunity to prepare. Where were they to live; where would they work; where would they find new friends; was there a community ready to accept them? Although our move to Ireland will be far less traumatic than that which our parents must have endured, a transition such as this must not be taken thoughtlessly nor without careful planning. All the information we have gathered via the web, friends, and Irish agencies has been invaluable, but it appears to us that the only effective planning can be made during visits to Ireland. We have read extensively about Ireland, including Dermot Keogh's "Twentieth-Century Ireland", which provided absorbing insights into the country's history. But it was only through our 1995 visit and our personal contacts there that we could gather information to help make intelligent decisions. Lacking these two factors, could result in disappointments and delusions that could sabotage the best of intentions.

Not the least of concerns is housing. Location, location, location is a caution advised by real estate agents and should be applied by anyone contemplating a move anywhere. Ireland is a relatively small country yet the choices of where to live vary extensively. Finances are likely to be a primary governing factor, while lifestyle, travel, study, and other factors must also be in the mix. Once again, our visit to Ireland and discussions with our friends there provided us with knowledge that led to our decision to live in Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove, Dalkey area, south of Dublin. Not the least of the reasons for living there is the ease which is offered of getting to the rest of Ireland and elsewhere - DART, rail, bus, ferry are all within easy access. Add to that the cultural, arts, education, and entertainment which Dublin affords, and the decision was relatively easy.

Now we're into the initial stages of the move - what to take - what to sell - what to do with our home in the United States. Loads of talk; abundant data on the web; advice from Ireland are all on the latest TBD list. During the next year hopefully some answers will emerge. Meanwhile, we're getting ready for a return to Ireland in October 1996. Although it will be a brief 8 day stay, it could help with all this planning. At least we'll have one more opportunity to visit the Dublin suburbs, but more importantly, we'll meet again with John and Margaret Henahan and just listen - these Irish love to talk!

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