Sunday, January 29, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Emigration Generation at our Doorstep.

Bobby and Martin in Lismore
Yesterday middle son Martin left Dublin for Brisbane, treading a well-worn path all too familiar to most Irish people with children in their twenties and thirties - Generation Emigration as they're being called, most recently in the series run by the Irish Times over the past few weeks. So it was a day of mixed emotions for me, sad to see Martin go on his first big journey since he'd been living overseas as a child, and happy for him to see him embark on a new life adventure. He was travelling with his friend Bobby who is also a graphic designer, and they are going to spend their first days in Australia with friends whom Martin grew up with in Tanzania, and with whose family we have maintained contact over the years since we left Africa. So from the Irish Mammy perspective I have no worries as he'll be looked after and won't get lost travelling to the other side of the world as there's a pair of them in it. They are flying Etihad Airlines, one of those super-duper Mid-Eastern Airlines from the Gulf that fly directly from Dublin to Australia with stops in Abu Dhabi and Singapore but none of the misery of having to navigate Heathrow or the lesser misery of one of the European hubs like Schiphol.
Abu Dhabi first stop!
Martin with William, Shayne, Jany and the girls

Irish Mammy moment in Dublin
JP, Bobby, Martin and Ricky in Lismore
As I write they should be leaving Singapore on the last leg of the journey to Brisbane, and they will no doubt have a few days of jet lag to contend with. I remember when we lived in Laos that the journey west-east from Europe back to Laos was worst for jet lag and it took a few days to reorient to the Orient. But that's probably trying to catch up on lost hours - only 7 in the case of Laos, but 10 or so in the case of Australia I suppose. I haven't checked the detail yet, very provincial of me. In fact Martin and Bobby left on Saturday and will lose out on Sunday and arrive on Monday - almost comparable to Samoa which lost a day in its entirety when they went to the other side of the International Dateline at the end of December. That begs the Table Quiz question - what country will nobody have a birthday on December 29th 2011?  I'm sure it'll feature in Pub Quizzes of the future!
Father and son before heading to the Airport!

We have been anticipating this move for Martin since he finished college - he did his undergrad Degree in Cork and his Masters' in Dublin, both in Graphic Design.  He wasn't able to get much work other than some freelance and a stint in a local printing and design business, but from the way things were going in Ireland with the downturn in the economy it didn't look great. So he worked in the 5* Westbury Hotel in Dublin for the past 10 months, and managed to save enough to fund his Aussie adventure. The visa is a year's working holiday visa and he will have to change jobs every three months, and maybe he will get sposnsorship and be able to extend his visa - otherwise the only way to stay on is to work in rural Australia for a while.

Hope the scales isn't loaded!
Yes I packed it myself...!
The current government has got into hot water recently over tactless remarks by the shoot-from-the-lip Finance Minister Michael Noonan over emigration being a Lifestyle Choice -an unfortunate turn of phrase that resonated with what Brian Lenihan and Eamon de Valera had said back in the years of mass almost forced emigration of the 1950s and 1980s - it smacks of heedless callousness in the light of all the families whose children would prefer to find work in Ireland and make a life here. I don't know if Martin will make a new life in another country or whether the economy here will revert to some normality to allow him a feasible return.

A final coffee - delaying the goodbyes!
He spent the last couple of weeks at home and then went to Cork to say goodbye to his former college friends there and to Dublin for a final farewell. We had a small party with the family and some of his friends from Lismore last weekend - the days of the Australian or American Wake seem a bit passé and melodramatic in this age of instant messaging via Facebook, Twitter and Skype - new verbs in the vocabulary must surely be To Skype and To Facebook, while To Tweet has been totally hijacked from the birds! We had a nice evening with a curry that went down well with everyone - included were the much-requested homemade chappatis - and it turned into a Boys' Night In with somebody's X-Box produced to play football games on the big TV.

Into the future!
I had a brief Kleenex Moment at the Departure Gate yesterday - no shame in that, as I got a small sense of how my dear mother must have felt with all the farewells she had to endure over two decades of my life. It was so weird to see him off in the vast emptiness of the futuristic boom-time Terminal 2 which was built for another era and economy. Now it has the whiff of a Bertie Ahern/Paddy the Plasterer white elephant about it, somewhat vindicating Michael O'Leary's vitriolic put-down of it over the years. It reminded me of that great Stephen King novella and film The Langoliers, about time-warped air travel and deserted terminals. Martin was the only one at the departure gate, as Bobby had gone through earlier. It was strange to be saying goodbye and turning back to the car park, instead of going through to head for the heat of our destinations over the years of our lives in Africa and Asia - but now it's the turn of the younger generation and that our children are making the move should come as no surprise to us. We can only wish Martin and Bobby well and look forward to new holiday destinations in the future!
Martin on the bridge - with Jan ahead with the suitcase!

Terminal 2 - the deserted airport!


Mimi said...

Catherine, I'm sorry that Martin is haveing to emigrate to find work. Going away to see the world is one thing, but it's completely different when you've no choice- a point missed by our politicians. They seem to be increasingly putting their 2 feet in it! Reading in today's paper how Health Min. spent over 600 on coffee machines...makes me think they're out of touch too.
T2 is a white elephant! And an ugly one.
Take care, I can feel your loneliness for your son.

Rudee said...

We have the same job issues here. My son graduated over a year ago and is still waiting to hear about two positions, while worrying how to make ends meet during this time. I hope he doesn't have to leave the country to find out.

All will be well and you'll have a new reason to visit Australia.

Sinéad said...

Sorry to hear your son has had to leave. I hope he gets to come home soon.

Catherine said...

Thanks for your kind comments girls - Martin is settling into Brisbane already and enjoying seeing the city - they're staying with friends so there's no immediate pressure on them to get a job pronto.
Mimi I can only agree about T2, it was a vulgar white elephant typical of Celtic Tiger excess and I can't ever see it used to capacity! And hope this govt. gets its act together soon as they're putting their feet in it in many areas - health being one close to my heart!
Rudee - hope your son has good news by now, I don't know what the welfare position re. unemployed grads is there but here they are eligible for payments (Means tested) while they job-seek. Takes the pressure off parents to maintain them if they are living away from home, if living at home they are subject to parental means. True about reason to visit Australia - just need to save the fares!
Sinéad - he's on the year's working visa so unless he gets sponsored during this year or works on a farm to get a second year visa he'll be back next year - he'd like to stay for a few years at the moment but so many will end up staying long-term and I can't blame him. Miss him but certainly having Skype makes it easier. And texting/messaging.
take care, Catherine xxx

Val said...

A great blog Catherine with all the photos. It must have been a very sad day for you though :( Thinking of you xxx