Why Did You Leave Ireland?

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This is an interview I did with my friend Loretto Horrigan Leary.  I have a link to another interview with her on the bottom of this piece.  The Irish Diaspora has been covered heavily, but I am trying to give a personal view to it.

Questions for Loretto:


  1.  If you were to become wealthy beyond belief, would you consider returning to Ireland to live? No
  2. What made you choose the United States (as opposed to Britain, other places in the European Union, or the British Commonwealth)? The Americans seemed to like the Irish and the potential to earn a good living and do better seemed achievable here.
  3. Do you think there’s a difference between when you came to the United States, Irish immigrants before you, or modern Irish immigrants? Most definitely, since 9/11 and now a Global recession, yes. Although I had to have a lung x-ray, TB test and an AIDS test, like all other Morrison Visa Lottery winners. Then an interview at the US Embassy in Dublin, it was pretty involved.
  4. What usually prompts the decision to leave Ireland? I think seeing lack of opportunity in your homeland and opportunities elsewhere.
  5. How did your family and friends take your decision to leave Ireland? My Mother, dad was deceased, was very distraught. I was the youngest, the last to leave home, but I immigrated further than the other sibling who went to Italy and returns to Ireland 3-4 times per year.
  6. What do you miss about Ireland; you think the United States is missing? I can’t compare the two, I really can’t. I suppose I wish Ireland had a nicer climate, sounds stupid, I know. And I do love the ancient history of Ireland. Just a great country to ramble around in and chat to people. Of course there is the fact that the economy in Ireland is terrible and there’s a lot of nepotism in the employment arena. Not always the best person gets hired to do the job, in Ireland, when I grew up it wasn’t what you knew that got you a job, but WHO you knew.
  7. What do you think would have happened if you had remained in Ireland? I would have become a newspaper journalist, that’s where I was headed.
  8. Are there members of any particular occupation that tend to try and emigrate from Ireland? Not really, things are so bad now it is all occupations.
  9. What are the reasons different Irish emigrants choose different nations to go to? Easy access to visas, right now, that is the big one and the assurance that they will have a well paid job.
  10.   When did you first come to the United States and where did you live? I arrived in 1985 for a summer vacation in Darien, CT.
  11.   Where in the United States did you go and why did you choose that particular place? Darien because my mother’s oldest sister lived there and there were lots of job opportunities in the town at the time.
  12.    Are there particular places in the United States Irish immigrants go to now? Not that I know of.
  13.   How were you treated as an immigrant here, and are Irish immigrants usually accepted? I was treated exceptionally well, and it amazes me how fond the Americans are of the Irish accent. Yes, they still treat me very well.
  14.   Is the economy what drives most Irish immigrants to leave? Yes.
  15.    What shocked you when you came to the United States? When I was 16, the first time I arrived in 1985 I saw a black women in the flesh so to speak for the first time in my life at JFK. I couldn’t stop staring, how ignorant of me!
  16.     What kind of jobs did you work in?  (I know you’ve told me some of this but you can answer here in as much detail as you like). I worked in a dry cleaners as a clerk, a hostess at a Chinese restaurant, a tutor, a babysitter.
  17.    Do you find there is a particular part of Ireland the majority of the modern Irish immigrants come from? No, it is all over.
  18.   Do Irish immigrants send money back to Ireland, the way many other immigrants do? I used to send stuff back to my mother, now we send it to nieces and nephews especially those in their twenties, they are struggling. It is hard to want to have your own place in Ireland, pay for rent, food and utilities when there isn’t enough work to pay for it.
  19.    Is there something you think all immigrants to the United States have in common, regardless of where they came from? No. I really don’t. I left for the first time in 1987 with the intention of staying gone. The Irish government messed up on my Leaving Cert exam results which delayed my entering University. When I left, I had no idea that the results were not accurate, I thought I hadn’t made it into college. I felt I was being forced out, but on the other hand I didn’t want to stay either. Then four months after I left a teacher who thought something was terribly wrong with the results did some investigation and I was assured a seat in Galway University. When I left for good again in 1992 I didn’t feel forced out, I just felt Ireland could not offer me the opportunities I wanted.
  20.   Do you think Ireland’s past is affecting why people are emigrating now and if so, why? Yes, the Economic Boom that the Irish called The Celtic Tiger, was a fake, corrupt and ill-planned boom. Only selct government officials, construction company owners and banks made out well money wise in the boom. Now the people left in Ireland are the ones paying all the new taxes that are trying to get Ireland out of debt. (Mike if you look at my blog and read http://breisebreiseleighgoleire1969.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/loretto-horrigan-interview/      it will give you even more details about my leaving Ireland.

About tucsonmike

I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and now live in Tucson, Arizona. I have discovered a passion for writing. I have five books out now, with a sixth on the way. Take a look @ my book list: The Search for Livingstone An Affair of the Heart The Search for Otzi Griffith Justice in Space. Moriarty The Life and Times of a Criminal Genius Available now on Smashwords - Amazon and Barnes and Noble As to not bore my public with just "Buy my book," I am also interested in baseball, the outdoors, art, architecture, technology, the human mind and DNA. I learned Ashkenazi Jews, of which I am one, have to lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. Therefore, I treat my brain as a muscle needing a workout. I enjoy good food, flirtation, beautiful women (I am happily married for thirty years), so just flirting ;) I was considered autistic when I was young, trying to figure out if I have a mild form of Aspergers and learning from that. That is for future posts. You can also see I love history. Enjoy my sarcastic silly look at the world, and making History more interesting than a textbook.
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