'It was daunting but we had to go for it'
A new baby and a new life – Jamie and Amy Malone and their five-week-old son David, pictured, have just spent their first Christmas away from home as emigrants to Canada.
After a few tough years in Waterford, the couple decided they had to take the gamble on a new life in a more buoyant economy.
While Amy was a pharmacy technician at home, Jamie found it impossible to find work as an electrician in the past couple of years despite his 13 years' experience.
And he didn't see it getting better any time soon. So when he saw adverts for work with Unitech Electrical in Canada, he leapt at the opportunity.
He got a job and a work permit after interviews in Dublin, and the couple travelled to Calgary in the Rocky Mountains in September – when Amy was 30 weeks' pregnant with their first child.
"It was a bit daunting as we'd never been here before and we were facing into a Canadian winter with a baby on the way, but we decided we had to go for it," said Jamie.
More than 20 other Irishmen were taken on by the same company so there were plenty of people in the same boat, starting off new lives.
Their son was born in November – and as a working family they were entitled to avail of Canada's world-renowned health care system, which Jamie said surpassed all expectations.
David is now eligible by birth for a Canadian passport – giving him great options for the future, whether or not the family remain there.
While they miss family and friends at home, they stay in touch through Skype and Facebook, and Amy's mother has already visited to help out with the new arrival.
The family spent Christmas at a hotel in Banff, a beautiful mountain resort, which Jamie said was their first holiday in years.
"It's beautiful over here, people have money in their pockets, the work is good and it's not a million miles away culturally, so we feel we made the right move for now," said Jamie.
"If you're in a hole, you have to get yourself out of it, because no one else will."