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    Canadian explains her return home

    By Noreen Bowden | October 6, 2008

    A letter-writer in the Irish Independent takes a provocative look at her decision to return to Canada after spending two years in Dublin.

    She notes several factors in her decision to leave the country, including her own redundancies, Ireland’s economic troubles, the healthcare system, infrastructure problems, and housing costs. She notes that she is not alone in preparing for departure, speaking of “whispers of leaving” in academic halls.

    Read the full letter at the Irish Independent website.

    Topics: Latest News | 1 Comment »

    One Response to “Canadian explains her return home”

    1. E P Campbell Says:
      November 30th, 2008 at 9:50 pm

      Laugh – I nearly made myself a cup of tea. Poor innocent girl has little idea…

      We left post war, poverty stricken, under-developed, bombed-out Belfast in June 1957 and sailed blissfully for 5 days across the Atlantic on the beautiful, white, Empress of Britain (52 years at sea) and returned from London Ontario, Via Toronto, in May 1958, in a BOAC Stratocruiser, a 10 hour flight, to stay in Aberdeen, Scotland, with 2 of my mother’s sisters, while my brother Mark was born. Meanwhile I taught my brother Howard to walk at 10 months.

      We finally returned to Belfast from Prestwick in an ex-Berlin Air Lift ‘Coal Lorry’. A Douglas Dakota.

      From a brand new, luxury, air conditioned, ocean liner to the upstairs of an unheated flying bus in less than 2 years. Each reversed stage a step backwards in comfort, progress, and economic and social development.

      My father had increased his Belfast, Harland and Wolff shipyard wages from £15 to £37 (C$100 a week) when he stepped off the Empress of England in Montreal, as our advance guard in early 1957. For the 2 years we were still together in Larne and Belfast we were living on as little as £5 a week, until we were evicted because my dad obtained the Belfast Council flat under false pretenses – having left the Larne Council house without declaring it to the Belfast Council, due to fights with a next door catholic neighbour, whom he alleged was flirting with my flirty mother..

      My parents became homesick for Belfast after just 6 months of living in London, Ontario, Paradise Canada (to my 5-6 year old mind then and my 56 year old mind today). Patricide was not an option in those days.

      When we arrived in Canada, for $500 ($2200 new) Dad had bought an iconic, light gold, 1950 Bullet Nose Studebaker Landcruiser – proudly parked in the drive of our small bungalow in Holborn Avenue. It looked something like a prop from a Buck Rogers SciFi movie. Designed by Raymond Loewey, an aircraft engineer.
      Back in Ulster we couldn’t afford any car, or a phone, or a television, or even the rent in the end.

      From 1960 after we split up as a family, Dad spent 10 years paying back $2000 Canadian dollars for our aborted emigration while living with his mother, until she died and he took over the house in leafy Cherry Valley gardens, middle class Knock.

      His decision to send us back ‘home’ – in less than the minimum 2 years stay to qualify for free passage -meant he had to pay back all the cost of our 2 way trips which was a total social and economic disaster – back to poverty, unemployment and surrounded by strife. We children, 5 of us by then, ended up in terrifying children’s homes for nearly 2 years and moved, as a single parent family, to a large ghetto of 2000 aluminium bungalows in South Belfast. A degrading, sink pond Belfast Council estate called Taughmonagh, aka ‘Tin Town’. Mother promptly had a nervous breakdown when the full weight of her 5 babies production hit home. Only the lowest, mostly non-earning Protestants, ended up there. Eventually she got pregnant by another erstwhile breadwinner 9 years her junior and moved to London to be with him 3 years later after being threatened with being burned out by Loyalist school children, for once being a Papist.

      Nearly 50 years on from when we first moved in to this re-assigned WW2 army camp, as of last year according to an online ‘Deprivation Survey’, the average Taughmonagh income was only £120 per week per family in 2007 … They’re still advertising for a ‘Community Officer’ in 2008 with no candidates on the horizon, presumably to help police stop the local drug dealers being tarred and feathered and tied to a lamp post by enraged vigilantes… any takers?

      My lucky brother Howard was born 2 weeks before we returned to the UK, in the 10 1/2 months we were in London, Ontario. 40 years later, with his English wife, ‘Lucky’ Howard returned to London, Ontario,to claim his birthright. Having something to ‘trade’, he sold their tiny 1 bedroom flat in Bracknell, Berkshire, for £80K and with that money bought a 3 bedroom, double garage, detached house with a 1/4 acre garden, with humming birds in the summer drinking from a feeder he set up for photographs… a couple of miles from where he was conceived. He’s never been back, though he has sent us bird photographs by email – bless him. He used to be so skinny, now he looks like Father Christmas.

      When my mother got on the plane to fly back she was already pregnant with less-lucky Mark – born in Scotland while we stayed with mother’s sisters. Meanwhile father continued on in Canada for another year enjoying the high life. At least it was a production break for my mother.

      Father was a staunch ‘Fenian Hating’ Protestant who worked as a lathe operator in mostly Protestant, Harland & Wolff shipyard. Mother was definately a good, fertile Catholic, bless her (and 3 Hail Mary’s). A marriage made in heaven… She had me when she was barely 17, while studying for a PhD in Cuticle Management. So much for her education and our future role models.

      Mark now lives in Australia and hasn’t been seen since he left the UK, 20 years ago. He’s probably still bricklaying, with an artistic temperament.

      50 years on and 48 years after my family disintegrated, 2 years after returning to Ulster – they’re still trying to kill each other in the streets and continue to build 40ft brick walls between the blood lusting, ignorant, backward, blinkered and easily misled communities.

      “Kick The Pope”, Long Live King Billy”, “Remember 1690” “No Surrender” or “Up The IRA”, “Remember Bloody Sunday”, “Soldiers Are We” still reverberate around the streets of the province to this day.

      Welcome to the Stone Age – set In stone and painted on gable ends.

      The Irish, North or South, with any intelligence, let alone intelligentsia, leave Ireland and never look back. Why would any sane person want to gaze longingly upon Medusa?

      Mother belatedly joined her philandering second husband in Sydney but she died about 8 years later due to cancer (caused largely by 2 non-supporting stressful husbands, a negative outlook and lifestyle and finally smoking). Father has mouldered away on his own in Lambeg, just outside Belfast and hasn’t seen most of his disillusioned family for at least the last 15 years – separated and mostly unsupportive for a conscience free 48 years of self-absorbed religious fanaticism..

      Like most Irishmen, north or south, many of whom are like highly strung horses, they can only cope with a blinkered existence. Once shielded from reality they become passive and are easily led…

      Good luck darling, and the best of Canadian to the both of you.

      The best country in the world to live in by far, according to the United Nations, as it was 50 years ago to me and will be 50 years from now. God speed your return to a beautiful, spacious home and beautiful people.

      My heart goes with you.