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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 5 December 2020

After too many tearful airport goodbyes, I couldn't be happier to be home from Australia

There’s a feeling that Dublin, at least, is alive and thriving again.

Deirdre Kirwan

AFTER TWO OVERWHELMING, emotional farewells to our families in Dublin Airport over the course of three years, we decided that the third farewell in January 2014 would be our last. We were coming home for good when we saw them next.

While moving to Australia was by no means unexciting for me, it was more for work reasons than anything else. I was lucky enough to travel around Australia with a group of friends in the summer of 2008 so I had no real desire to go back.

Difficult journey

But this time it was different. If I wanted to work in the area that I’d studied for five years, I needed to leave the country. I had tried relentlessly to get work in my field at home, but it was hopeless. Melbourne’s construction industry was booming, so it was an obvious choice.

We came home twice in the three years we were away and leaving to go back with my now fiancé never got any easier. I would sob my way through Dublin Airport security, getting pitiful knowing looks from airport staff who were all too familiar with this sight. I often wondered if work experience and a warmer climate was really worth all the heartache.

I’ve been home now for seven months, happily living in Dublin, and it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Student days

But I was a student when I last lived in Dublin, and the city has changed drastically since then. Back in college, my part-time job funded my social life which, if I’m honest, didn’t go far beyond Flannery’s and Coppers. Finding an apartment every July or August was a breeze. We generally had the pick of a few and the tick of approval went to whichever was closest to the doors of DIT Bolton Street so we could roll from bed into college.

I would bus it home every Friday evening and look out the window, envious, at all the ‘suits’ in the beer gardens enjoying their Friday after work drinks and banter. I thought that I would be joining them soon. Dublin was booming and I couldn’t wait to graduate, find a good job and become a sophisticated young professional.

While I managed to get the work experience I badly needed, I had a lot of crap jobs in Dublin, franking envelopes and making coffee.

Rent market

The first thing that shocked me on my return was how difficult it proved to find a house to rent in Dublin. Gone were the days of being ‘shown’ a house. Our first viewing in January involved the agent unlocking the door as a stampede of eager renters bustled around by themselves as the agent casually scrolled through Facebook.

Anyone who was interested needed to really sell themselves, and the agent then required reams of paperwork, references and payslips before whittling down the successful candidates.

Opening a bank account was another ordeal. And wages in Dublin don’t match up to the cost of living here. Australia may be expensive, but the typical salary you can expect there makes up for it.

The number of homeless people on Dublin streets also took me aback. It’s sad how many more people are now destitute compared to when I was a student.

Thriving again

But despite all of that, I couldn’t be happier to be back. After seven months, it’s still a novelty to be able to pick up the phone to my family or friends and not have to work out what the time difference is.

The job market in Dublin is picking up and, after family, it’s the main reason we returned. There’s a feeling that our capital city, at least, is alive and thriving again.

Deirdre Kirwan is a 29-year-old town planner and freelance contributor. Originally from Wexford, she is now living and working in Dublin after two years in Belfast and three in Australia. 

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Deirdre Kirwan

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