I believe that there's no such thing as emigration - it's dead. Years ago, moving country was such a final and desperate thing for people to do. First of all it meant breaking your ties with people and a landscape, and secondly, it meant embracing a massive culture disconnect, and for you young ones reading this, I don't mean having to go without your Tayto Crisps or dating someone who's never heard of the Saw Doctors. No, it was all about survival and renewel and it was total change. Even when I lived in Germany in the 80's and 90's, there was no live stream TV, or online Irish Times or Facebook or all the other things that make the world more generic and accessible.
Still though, my imminent move to Germany has been the cause of a few restless nights and one major panic attack. There are things you can't bring with you, like the Saturday morning walk on the Prom at Salthill, the light that makes the little stone walls on the N17 look black in the mornings and pale grey on the way home. Neachtain's pub (the whole world is full of Irish pubs, but in Neachtain's the memorabilia is actually real and not a clatter of mass produced tacky and twee signs). And there's the madness of Ireland. It's a place where you can not only have four seasons in one day, but you can encounter four or five decades of mindsets in a single afternoon.
When I lived in Germany before I used to blame Germany for things that weren't of my liking, and although it's true that one can generalise at times, I've learned in the meantime that no matter where you live you will always find people who are like you. Because ultimately, I agree with Stephen Covey that 'we see the world as we are, and not as it is.'
But there are things I won't miss about Ireland.
1. Tractors on the N17. For some reason tractor drivers don't seem to realise that the hard shoulder is a place where they can pull in and let normalers pass. Of course the tractor drivers themselves might tell you that they can't pull in as it may upset the collie dog that they have on board. Worse though, is when these tractor drivers get off the main road that they shouldn't be on in the first place and take out their cars which are filled with tractor diesel and then blow black smoke into your windscreen all the way up the N17.
2. The health care system. 'Irish health care' is actually an oxymoron. As a cost saving measure, RTE camera crews sometimes record video footage of the A&E room when broadcasting on the latest atrocities in Beirut. There is very little difference between the two. If you child or any of your loved ones are sick, avoid hospitals at all costs.They are places where you will either get a nasty virus, the wrong treatment or beaten up by someone who claims to have been ahead of you in the queue.
3. The Garda Siochana. This is the Irish translation for 'the Muppet Show'. They practise law and order by 'giving out' and going around chasing criminals on bicycles.
4. Irish Politics. Irish politics is a bit like royalty. You have to be born into it. The only problem though is that it's like having a feuding gang of rival royals all fighting over who did what but all doing the same things to make the same recurring mess. The only thing worse than these chosen families of politicians is the general public who year after year give them license to continue making the mess so that they can blame them for the mess they are in themselves.
5. Hearing people say 'there's no recession on there' wherever there is a hint of somebody doing well, being happy, having success or spending money on something other than a loaf of yesterdays bread at half price in Aldi. It's as if we are not allowed to move outside the confines of recession gloom and doom.
6. Confusing Autonomy with Nationalism. There seems to be this assumption that we cream what we can from Europe, but that deep down we are not part of Europe at all, we are independent of any influence from the team we are part of and how dare they get involved in our country. It's a bit like my teenage kids going on about how they would prefer to be living without me and that I have no right to have any opinion on what they do or think, but what's for dinner and can you lend me a fiver?
Now there are a few more niggly ones but I will leave it at that for now. I promise that one of the next blogs will be on what I will miss about Ireland and why I'm heartbroken to be off. I'm sure I've missed a few, so do feel free to add my omissions in the comment section...