As The Number Of Emigrants Returning To Live In Ireland Spikes, We Meet 3 Irish Girls Who’ve Permanently Moved Back Home

Vicki Notaro speaks to three recently returned emigrants to find out if coming home is really all it’s cracked up to be.

Passport Kindle air travel by @stellarmagazine

There was a time in Sunny Ireland when it felt like everyone and anyone was jumping on a plane, visa in hand, and jetting off for the year to work and travel.

But newly released figures show that more people than ever are actually returning home to Ireland, with around 21,000 travellers permanently moving back here over the last year, the highest figure since 2009.

With these new figures in mind, we take a look back at our June issue where we met three Irish women who’ve recently made the move back home.

Ariana Dunne, 33, moved home from London last year.


“Having London on your CV makes getting a job in Dublin much easier.”

“I left Ireland in 2011. I’d been working in the same company for over four years and really just fancied a change. Lots of my close friends were living in London and their Facebook feeds were full of exciting big city photos. I wanted in on the action!.

“Working in media meant London had a wealth of opportunities for me. I’d already lived in Australia and New York, and London’s appeal of being still close to home made it an easy choice .

“I spent four years there and had an absolute ball. Working in London comes with a lot of perks, but it burns you out! It can be fast-paced and stressful. I made lots of great friends. I met a boy, funnily enough an Irish one, and we dated for two years. We broke up, but he still remains a very close friend. It was hard being away from family and friends – when you move away, personal connections are stretched and I definitely drifted away from some of my friends back home, something I regret.

“London’s also super expensive. I took a big pay cut to move there; I was on a very good salary in Dublin and trying to get that matched over there proved difficult, so that meant I was constantly broke for my first two years, which was a shock to the system; London rent is astronomical.

“I first started thinking about moving home about a year before I actually did. I realised that London wasn’t a great place to be in your thirties and single. I wanted to start putting down roots somewhere, get a car, think about buying a flat and maybe get a little dog, and you can’t really do any of those things alone in London. I was also quite tired, because it’s a city that makes you tired. I just wanted to be able to jump in my car and go anywhere and see anyone at any time. But in London, life is very structured and that made me feel boxed in.

“In the end I was really lucky. My company was going through a restructure and they changed my job role. I refused to accept the new position and so they were forced to make my role redundant and I ended up getting a very generous pay out. I was lucky to be offered four jobs here, so I got to pick the best one. I know it’s not as easy for everyone, but I feel that having London on your CV makes getting a job in Dublin much easier.

“I’m home 10 months now and I love it. Reconnecting with friends has been lovely – it was just like picking up where I left off – with the addition of a few babies!

“I don’t know if I’m back for good. I moved around a lot when I was younger and my mum and dad turned every move into a new adventure, and I think that’s stuck with me. Life’s an adventure, so while I’m happy here for now, and I may be here for the long run, if I met someone tomorrow and he wanted to move to Singapore, I’d be like sure, why the hell not. Home is where the heart is and my heart travels with me.”

Linda Thomas, 34, has just moved back from California to work with her well-known sister Kathryn.


“Kathryn and I come from very different professional backgrounds but we’ve always wanted to work together.”

“I emigrated three years ago, and moved to Los Angeles, California with Google,
which I’d been working for in Dublin for 18 months. I transferred with to its Venice Beach office.

“I loved the California way of life, and already had great friends there and a ready-made network of fantastic people in the entertainment business. My overall experience was incredible. I built up some amazing work experience and traveled all over the US for work. There were so many highlights, but while I loved all the business travel, after two years it started to take its toll. It became was hard to keep a schedule for fitness and catching up with friends, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world, I was so fortunate to experience all those incredible things.

“I started to miss family and friends, and missing the every day things back home. Professionally I felt I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve in LA – I’d gained three years of amazing experience through Google.

“I was also super excited about the new venture, Pure Results Bootcamp, that my sister Kathryn started, and could see the potential and a real gap for it in Ireland. I’m so proud of her and what she’s achieved. So I started to think about coming home. I’d got my Green Card too, so it made the decision easier, knowing the option’s always there to go back. I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained, and although it was slightly scary to leave the security of Google, it felt like the right time.

“I’m only home a month! I did my last day with Google, flew home that night and started working with Kathryn the very next day. I’m the director of business development and will be looking at how we can scale and grow the brand. I’m also looking after the PR too, so I’m busy, but it’s going great. We’re both high-energy and passionate about fitness and after living and working in the US and in LA , the fitness mecca of the world, I have great insights into the industry. Kathryn and I come from very different professional backgrounds but we’ve always wanted to work together.

“I’s been a whirlwind, but I’m glad I’ve come home. It’s nice to work with my sister, bring all I’ve learned at Google to a start up like Pure Results and be surrounded by friends and family. Although LA was a fantastic place, I missed the simple things Ireland offers, like a slower pace of life and family. Sometimes it was lonely.

“I love Ireland and it will always be my home but I also love the US. My dream would be to split my time between here and there. With this new role being seasonal and working for myself, it could allow me to do that eventually.”

26-year-old Trudi McDonald has returned from Melbourne, Australia.


“There’s something about Ireland that you just don’t find anywhere else.”

“I left Ireland in 2011 with three friends from DCU. We’d all studied Journalism and Communications, and wanted to have a bit of an adventure. It was quite hard to get decent media jobs at the time so we collectively thought – why not try our luck overseas, and packed our bags. We were very young, and while the recession made the decision to leave easier, I think we just wanted to see a bit of the world.

“We headed for South America for almost six months, starting in Brazil and going around the continent until we ended up in Argentina. Then we went to Australia, on the working holiday visa and after a week in Sydney (the most expensive place on the planet!), we decided we’d try Melbourne.

“I ended up living there for four years. I was incredibly lucky to get sponsored at the end of my first year. That first year was very tough – it’s really difficult to get set up when you move over (especially if you’re broke after travelling) and it wasn’t until mid-way through year two that I felt like I really lived there. I didn’t really want to get into the “Irish” scene of Melbourne, so I moved north of the city and discovered a really great lifestyle. Melbourne has a very diverse cultural scene of music, food, cafes and art and once I started working full-time, I was able to enjoy it.

“While I went over with a group of mates, it wasn’t until all my Irish girls left that I really had to put myself out there and make new friends, which was a challenge. To do this, I got more involved in voluntary projects, started going out with work friends more and moving outside of my comfort zone. It was daunting at first, but I’m so glad I did, because I met some of the best people in my life in Melbourne. I also really loved the outdoor lifestyle that is commonplace in Aussie, the good weather makes it so easy!

“I started to think about moving home when it became apparent that there was nowhere for me to progress in my work. While being a personal assistant was fine for me for a while and I loved where I worked, I wanted to get into communications, but you can’t work outside the restrictions of your visa so it was impossible for me to change roles.

“The decision was difficult, but it came down to either wasting another year doing something that I didn’t love every day until I could get a Permanent Residency visa, or taking a chance and coming home. I’m definitely the type of person who likes to keep moving so I thought I’d come back, spend some time with my family and friends here and maybe go back to university. It was so difficult leaving behind people I loved and the life I’d built for myself; I thought I was leaving a bit of my identity behind, but at the end of the day, Ireland is home.

“I’ve been home since just before Christmas and now I can say that I’m happy to be back. I definitely wasn’t for the first three months; it was really hard. I was happy to see everyone, but being unemployed, living with my parents and finding it really hard to even get an interview, let alone a job, was so demoralising. I felt like I’d taken a step backwards, and this was made worse seeing all my friends in Melbourne having a glorious time in the sunshine, while I sat in the snow in Cavan. My head was definitely still in Australia, but once I let go of the fact I’m not there right now, I began to see Ireland for the lovely place it is.

“I got very lucky with a contract role in Diageo, so I’ve been working there about a month now. My plan is to stick around for the summer, taking in as many festivals, gigs, runs, hikes and anything else Ireland can offer me! You don’t get the same craic anywhere else in the world as you do here and I plan on making the most of it.

“I’m actually already planning on moving to the UK in September to study for a Master’s in Leeds. After that, I might go back to Australia for a couple of years, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t live there for the rest on my life. There’s something missing there; I was never able to put my finger on it – especially because it’s such a great place to live and work – but there’s something about Ireland that you just don’t find anywhere else.”

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s June issue. The September issue is on shelves now!

STELLAR September 2016 Cover

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