Thursday, August 01, 2013

Taking the leap - moving back to Ireland

Article on the Irish Times today

Au revoir France
They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, after death and divorce. We made the decision early this year to leave our beloved France with our two children and head back “home” to Ireland, a country where we haven’t actually lived in for over 16 years.
The decision was a difficult one as France has been good to us and we have no regrets. Where we are living is probably one of the most beautiful places in Europe, with the Med and the mountains within spitting distance.
Yet, at the end of the day, it’s just not home. We have a close network of expat friends whom we get on very well with, but most will eventually leave here. We are constantly saying goodbye to good friends. We swear we will stay in contact, but rarely do.
Our French friends are equally lovely, but they never really let you in. We’ve had hundreds of nights out with them, perfectly staged dinner parties with exquisite food and wines to match, but at the end of the evening we’d often realise we had had little craic.
Our decision to leave was made in the depths of a very bad French winter. Personally and professionally we both felt held back and unfulfilled. Trying to run a business here in France is like beating your head against a brick wall while the French bureaucrats watch, mocking and deriding you. It really is that bad.
You realise pretty quickly that France only plays lip service to Europe and in reality does it’s own thing which reeks of protectionism and cronyism. On one occasion as we tried to get a business off the ground, our Irish MEP, Brian Crowley, took our case to the Minister of Justice because he felt we were being discriminated against as they were refusing to recognise my accountancy qualifications. France’s answer to the problem was to change the law, so I had to have a French baccalaureat (equivalent of Leaving Cert) to work in my chosen field.
All that aside, life in France has been mostly good and we have been extremely happy here. Now, as the mercury begins to rise, the doubts about our decision, in direct correlation, are too. I’ve had sleepless nights wondering are we doing the right thing for the children, now aged six and eight, who are now completely and naturally bilingual. Will they fit into the Irish culture? How will they cope with the drinking culture in Ireland when they reach their teenage years, and will my daughter want to start dressing like a pop star once she hits Irish shores? Will we be able to handle the terrible weather?
Our beautiful house with it’s happy memories of all the people who have visited us and the fun we have had, has gone under the hammer and we must leave in a couple of days.
We will miss the sunshine, the wine, the food, and our circle of lovely friends, but for all that, Ireland still beckons. It takes time living away from Ireland to fully appreciate how warm, lovely, helpful and genuine Irish people are. “There are plenty of assholes in Ireland too,” my father warned me when I broke the news of our return, and we know that we’re not going to have 320 days of sunshine. Yet, we want our children to be Irish, to have that Irish sense of humour, to have a healthy working mentality and to be surrounded by our extended family. We want to be there for the good times and the bad. In a morbid way, I want to be there for funerals, for sicknesses and the tough times as well as the celebrations and the good times.
It’s au revoir France for now. Yikes!


  1. Hi Karen,
    Well done on the Irish Times piece. I think you've very eloquently summed up your reasons for returning and I completely understand where you are coming from. My yearning to go back home echoes yours very closely but my quibbles with Switzerland (which I mostly think is great) are obviously different as the country is different. I'm doing something similar on a much smaller scale - returning later this month to Dublin after 10 years away, but only for four months. I've organised a sabbatical and got the kids into a local school for one term and I am ridiculously delighted about the whole thing. It's different though when you're married to a local, as I am. My husband couldn't really imagine making a living in Ireland.
    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck and good fortune with the move. Will you be renaming / relaunching the blog?

    1. Hi Clare
      Thanks for that - it's nice to 'speak' to someone in the same situation ... as most people think we're nuts to be leaving the sunny south of france.
      Best of luck with your sabbatical .. don't know what I'm doing with the blog yet.
      Let's keep in touch! I'll be very interested to see how you get on in Ireland as well

  2. Hi Karen,
    Wishing U, DOH n TSKs all the very best back in Ireland. We availed of both of your expertise sets in France and found ye both charming, diligent, efficient and helpful - all traits that are not exclusively Irish but permit easy assimilation into any society. While your Dad may be correct regarding a proportion of Irish you have obviously considered your options for some considerable time and we wish ye well in whatever ventures ye pursue back in the homeland. No doubt ye will be frequent visitors to the P.O. Perhaps the USAP v Munster game in December will merit a visit. Peut etre nous ferons un rendevous apres le victoire pres de Le Castillet!!

    1. Thank you very much indeed Tom for your good wishes and kind words...
      A bientot!
      ( can't find accents on Irish keyboard!)

  3. Thanks for sharing this Karen! having lived in the UK for 18 yrs moving home is something I increasingly think about. The bit that struck a cord most with me was wanting to be around for the hard things as well. I panic at the thought of what I will do when those times come, which they will. My parents have a house in Ceret where we spend many happy summers so I can imagine how hard it was for you to leave but I do wish you luck and please keep us posted on the transition- both good and bad! Like Clare I am not married to an Irish man so for now my dream of moving home is rather out of reach! I feel very sad that my kids will not share the same experience and Irish rights of passage that I did- they will create their own equally great ones I know but it does sting a bit!

  4. Hi Karen,
    found your article really interesting and it struck big chords with me. Am in a similar situation, but have been in France about 35 years, married to a Frenchman, and am now considering moving back with or without him. Same desires: to be there for the good times and also for the sad times, to be part of the community there. France is pleasant but can be very hard. And in the end I just want to be where I belong. Look forward to reading further instalments of your journey!
    All the best
    (another) Karen

    1. Hi Karen
      Well, we,ve been 'home' now for three weeks and are still being blown away by the simple loveliness of everyone .. the honeymoon continues for now anyway.
      Good luck with your decision, it's not an easy one!
      I was on that fence for quite a while
      Keep in touch!

  5. Hi Karen
    What a great article.We have been living in France for the last 7 yrs and are contemplating moving back next year.I will be following your blog with huge interest.Best of luck and fingers crossed for ye.Susan

    1. Thanks Susan. Once I get a chance, I'll get blogging again.
      Keep in touch!


You may also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...