The Irish grandparents who moved to Australia to be with their grandchildren says it was 'the best decision' they ever made
Two Irish grandparents who sold up and emigrated to Australia six months ago to spend the rest of their days with their young family, have said it was the best decision they ever made.
Janet and Eugene Bennis captured the Irish public's imagination when they gave up their lives in Limerick last February to move permanently to Brisbane, where their four grown-up children and four young grandchildren are all based.
The couple, who are both in their 50s, admitted that adjusting to their new lives Down Under has been challenging at times.
But they said they've absolutely "no regrets" and encouraged other parents whose children have emigrated to seriously consider following in their footsteps.
Janet said: "The highlight of our lives is of course our granddaughters (Saoirse, five, Teegan, two, Isabelle, two and Alexia, one). We live three days with my son Eoin's family (father to Isabelle and Alexia) and four days with my daughter, Jennifer's family (mother to Saoirse and Teegan).
"The grandchildren are the pulse of my heart. When we came here in February, Alexia was only nine-months-old. She had no teeth and couldn't walk or talk.
"Now she's doing all three and it's been fantastic to have been here to see her do all these things. I now have the most amazing bond with her. Hearing her call me from her cot in the morning is truly beautiful. It's unreal and I feel very blessed.
"In Ireland our lives were so empty without the children and at times we felt we were existing rather than living. We missed them terribly, but now we get to see at least two of the grandchildren every single day.
"And we have sunshine here every single day, which makes you want to get up and get out. I had the girls out at 8.30am the other day, with the sun splitting the rocks."
However, Liverpool-born Janet, who used to work as a catering supervisor at the University of Limerick before emigrating, admitted that adjusting to their new lives has been far from straightforward.
She said: "When we got here and all the excitement had died down, it dawned on me that I had no sisters, uncles, aunts or friends that I could meet up with and have a natter with, like I did in Ireland. That was and still is very hard for me.
"I still cry when I start thinking about my family and friends back in Ireland and Liverpool. I will never stop missing home."
The couple also said that they are disappointed that they have not been able to work yet, as they wait for their visas to be issued.
Janet said: "It's very frustrating, as there are plenty of jobs here that we could apply for, but our hands are tied at the moment."
However, the pair have kept themselves busy, joining local clubs, and Janet - who worked with suicide group Pieta House in Ireland - has recently teamed up with the Darkness Into Light campaign in Brisbane.
She added: "Coming over here is without doubt the best thing we ever did. If any other parents are wondering about doing what we've done, I'd advise them to go for it.
"Life is too short. If our kids can live the dream, then who's to say their parents can't also."