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Emigration can mean a constant back and forth between Ireland and abroad, be it literal in travelling back and forth or metaphorical in matters of the heart and where you feel at home. Or as Edel Monaghan puts it- a boomerang oscillating between two worlds. In our latest returning to Ireland blog, Edel shares her experience returning to Ireland this spring with her kids in tow after fourteen years down under with her husband and dive into the phenomenon of “boomeranging” discussed in many emigrant communities.

We are privileged to feature the Donegal native’s story part of our Abhaile: Returning to Ireland Conference, running online 4-7 June 2024. Learn more and register for live events here. 

Edel Monaghan returned to Ireland with her family this spring after fourteen years in Australia, documenting their journey on Instagram.

Boomerang

Have you ever heard of a “Boomerang”?

Yes, you would be right in thinking that it is a traditional Aboriginal weapon—a curved, flat piece of wood that if thrown, will return to the thrower.

However, have you heard of a “boomerang” in the context of return migration? People who return to their homeland, only to realise that they do not feel settled there, cannot reintegrate, and ultimately return to their adopted home.

This has happened to more people than I can count.  And why? Because reintegration is difficult! So they say—but I guess I am about to find out.

Sometimes I wonder, how is this the case? We grew up in this country, we have visited a lot during our time away BUT coming back to live is just…different.

We arrived back to Ireland at the end of April, 14 years (almost to the day!) of when we landed in Sydney on our working holiday visa in 2010.  We left an Ireland that was in the throes of a global recession, my then boyfriend (now husband) Mark had moved back from Vancouver the year before and could not find work in his field.  I was on a rolling contract in healthcare and had such a desire to fulfil lifelong ambition to travel and work in Australia.  So off we went, with not much money, the address of Mark’s cousin (don’t worry, he knew we were coming!) and a one-way ticket.

Australia brought us more than we expected or could have imagined.  Job opportunities that I am not sure would have come our way in Ireland during that time, a move to Singapore to experience all that Asia had to offer, a group of friends (many of whom are back this side of the world now too!) and, best of all our kids, a dream of parenthood made possible by supports for IVF in Australia

But like many before with the constant question hanging over us, two years ago we made the decision that we would make the move back.  We felt like we needed two years to plan and prepare ourselves mentally for the move because we truly don’t want to “boomerang.”

I know no one moves back to Ireland with the intention of leaving again. The draw for most is family and old friends but the reminder here is that you have changed and have laid roots and created a life and ‘family’ elsewhere.  It is not so black and white. You are forever split across two worlds.

As we embark on this move, and in preparation for it, we focused on all the things we had to look forward to, not all the things we would miss.  And there is a lot to look forward to.  Our kids get to spend quality time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and extended family.  Europe is on our doorstep! How many times did we pang over the #eurosummer photos while living in Sydney?!  The long, long, long summer evenings, that we forget actually start in March!! And our friends, some of our dearest live this side of the world and those that had lived with us in Sydney left a hole, that if I am honest, was the start of the itch to move really building.

I read endlessly in preparation! I wanted to read the experience of those that had gone before and would read articles aloud to my husband on the finer points of people’s experience. Why it worked but more importantly, why it did not work?

James Parnell and Sarah Whelan (both featured on the Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project’s Abhaile Coming Home panel), to name two, that openly shared their experiences and formed part of my incessant reading.  James now has a book all about the ins and outs of a move back to Ireland and Sarah, having been a “boomerang” herself, shared her experience on Irish Women Abroad and has now “boomeranged” right back to Ireland again and is sharing all that goes with that! So you see, it’s not black and white.

In my reading and talking with people, I read that childcare and GP access, that we took for granted in Australia, wasn’t going to be so straightforward.  So I got on to both of those things early… seven months early to be exact but here we are in Ireland and still not 100% there.  However, the knowledge and preparation has meant we have stop gaps in place for childcare at least.

I found resources like Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project and citizensinformation.ie great resources for answering the practical questions but I also really craved the “soft” stuff – personal experience and tips.

So in January, as our move loomed, I decided to share our experience publicly via an Instagram page: @perpeturallyhomefromhome.

Yes, I share hints and tips but also the real side of the move, with the hope that over time we could create a community of people doing the same because this community of returning Irish have a lot to share with each other and support to provide to each other.  It is a unique experience and one that family just will not necessarily fully grasp, unless they have experienced it themselves.

I read an article on diasporasupport.ie by James Parnell that talked about not settling to feel settled and I resonate with that.  Always have plans, lots to look forward to, friends to meet, places to see (because, my goodness, there’s more going on in Ireland than I ever realised!) and family to make memories with.  So here I am, at the precipice of our new life in Ireland, ready to dive in full steam ahead, eyes wide open, or so I hope, to the rollercoaster ahead!

About Edel Monaghan (@perpetuallyhomefromhome)

Edel is 37 years old, originally from Donegal, Ireland.  She and her husband Mark (also from Donegal) and two kids (3 & 1) have recently made the move to Ireland after 14 years away.  Edel has worked in the healthcare industry for her whole career in various capacities and plans to do the same in Ireland.  They have moved back to rural Ireland in an attempt to make life on the coast in Donegal work post coastal life in Sydney! Follow Edel and her family’s journey home on Instagram @perpetuallyhomefromhome.

Resources

Our sincere thanks to Edel for sharing her experience moving back with us. If Edel’s story resonated with you, below are some resources that may be helpful for you:

If you have questions about returning to Ireland, we are here to help. Get in touch via the contact form here, or by emailing us irishdiasporasupport@crosscare.ie

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