JUST three weeks ago, Tralee couple Diana and Ken Ryan welcomed their first baby into the world, signalling one of the biggest milestones in their lives. Unfortunately, the arrival of baby Millie Mai happened in Perth, highlighting more than ever the heartbreaking downside to emigration.
While Diana and Ken are taking to parenthood like ducks to water, describing their daughter as 'the love of their lives,' being on the other side of the world at such and emotional and special time is incredibly tough.
"Being so far away from home is not easy. Not having family or friends around is extremely hard and it's tough to go from having such a strong support network to being all on your own," said Diana. "The time difference is a killer too as I might not always get to chat to friends and family as it's either too early or too late to call."
The recession was hitting pretty hard at home when Diana and Ken decided to leave over four years ago, and despite the fact that both were holding down full time jobs (Ken even owned his own electrical business), they were simply struggling to make ends meet. Initially it was hard finding work as they only had a one-year working holiday visa which meant they could only stay for a maximum of six months with one employer, unless they were sponsored, which is what happened in the end.
During the past few years, Diana has worked in a dance studio holding various positions, from studio manager to hip hop teacher to marketing executive. Her husband has also secured full time work and both are enjoying a remarkably better quality of life than they did back home.
"There is no recession in Perth. We have been here for four years now and, thank God, we have always had an abundance of work and there doesn't seem to be any signs of it slowing down anytime soon, which is very comforting to know," she said.
"There are a lot of cultural differences here and it was hard to try and fit in at the beginning," she said. "We have made lots of lovely friends over here and it's great, but we definitely miss our friends and family from home that we grew up with. People come here with the idea that they will just fall into a job but initially it is hard. There is plenty of work, it's just trying to find the right employer that will take a chance on you and if you are patient the right job will come along eventually. In the meantime just make sure that you have plenty of savings to keep you going until you find a job."
With a new baby now taking priority in her life, Diana says she and her husband think more about coming home, but feel there is nothing there for them at the moment
"I often think about coming home and if things improved we would definitely consider t it," she said. "But every time we have been home to visit, everyone keeps telling us that we are better off where we are and that things seem to be just getting worse, which is sad."
"At the moment my husband and I really need stability financially in order to provide for our new family and unfortunately if we came home now we would be entitled to nothing to get us started back in Ireland as we have been away too long."