“You can’t go for a pint on Skype. You can’t field a football team with photos from Facebook nor can you twitter the heart-warming feeling of spending an evening with a full family contingent.”
Islander Deirdre Lyne reflects on the Diaspora, Gathering her thoughts on and the effects of the scattering at home..
Emigration, that word just catches in my throat. It has now become all too familiar in homes throughout the island. Our youth are raised to immigrate. The majority graduate from college come home for a summer and then pack up and leave for shores such as Australia, Abu Dhabi and New York, to name just a few. When I signed up for my latest phone package I opted for the all inclusive free international calls and texts. Such was the nature of my calls these days. Social media makes the world a much smaller place, but Skype & face book can’t give you a hug. You can’t go for a pint on Skype. You can’t field football team with photos from Facebook nor can you twitter the heart warming feeling of spending an evening with a full family contingent. I’m one of the lucky ones. I live on an Island surrounded by beauty. I wake every morning to the sound of the Atlantic waves crashing against the coast. Seagulls are my alarm clock and the crimson sun that sets over the lighthouse is my view of an evening. I’m one of the fortunate ones, I have a job that allows me raise my child in idyllic surroundings, having the childhood that I had. Loitering at the town clock, pier jumping three times a day during the summer and playing football for the Valentia Young Islanders, all to the sound track of the Valentia Pipe band. But not all my friends are so lucky.
I had a twenty first birthday, albeit a few years ago now that had Boston’s bar packed to the rafters. I had friends from all corners of the Country in attendance. When youth was on our side and the world was our Oyster. Where jobs were a plenty and we were the Celtic kittens. But soon the World came crashing down around us. Redundancy packages were offered and plane tickets were bought. It all seemed great at first. “Don’t worry, of course I’ll come visit you in Australia”, “Sure you’ll be home before you know it”. Facebook profile photos showed fair away places such as Ayers rock, Sydney harbor and the Opera house. It all looked so exciting. Time wears on though and now us poor souls left at home muttering the words “If I see another picture of one of that crowd in a bikini at the beach I’ll scream”. I have five cousins from one side of my family living in Australia, I have two best friends living in Abu Dhabi, my sister resides in London, when I talk to them, all they want is news from home. Anyone dead? What was the racket Saturday night? How’s the senior team going? Is your one back with himself? They drink Barrys tea and dream of cheese & onion taytos. They buy The Kerryman on a weekly basis, all in a bid to keep in touch with home. Skip forward a few years and my 30th birthday had my nearest & dearest friends in attendance but the most heartbreaking part was a DVD of messages from all my friends in far away lands. Not all is rosy though for our tanned loved ones. They miss out on so much more than a good night in The Royal, or the news from the back of the church on Sunday mornings. They miss family gatherings: birthdays, communions, hell they even miss funerals. Home is very far away when all you want is your family & friends. But they make the most of it. A text message on New Years Eve this year read: Happy New Year from Oz, just home from our NYE party, flaming and heading out again now to ring in the Irish New Year, woohoo! My exiled friends are now getting engaged, having babies, buying houses in off shore lands and suddenly it seems, they won’t be home before they know it! We thought the worst thing was our grandchildren being born with out Valentia accents, now the trouble is they are being born without Irish accents.
To all my friends and family abroad, enjoy the sun, send some our way and hurry home we miss you on Valentia!