4,000 people from 110 countries delighted to receive Irish citizenship
SOME had come looking for work and found love as well. Others had found love over the internet and crossed the ocean to settle in Ireland.
How all of the 4,000 people who officially became Ireland's newest citizens yesterday came to set foot on Irish shores may have varied. Yet, they all had something in common, they had already become just a little bit Irish.
Delighted HSE worker Charity Ihuoma (29), originally from Nigeria but now happily living in Dublin 15, told how her friends were still helping her to perfect her favourite dish, Irish stew.
"We have the same food but we cook it differently. Of all the food I love in Ireland -- it is Irish stew," she said.
Standing outside the National Convention Centre, delighted nurse Glynes Amizona, from Blanchardstown, Dublin, and originally from the Philippines, told how she and her husband had given their four-year-old daughter a traditional Irish name with a Filipino twist.
"We called her Deirelyn Jhoy. I combined the name of Deirdre and myself and my husband's name," Mrs Amizona, who has been in Ireland eight years and whose carer husband Renito is still awaiting citizenship, said.
"It is the happiest day for us, not only for myself but also for my own family."
During the citizenship ceremony, brought in last year to bring a sense of occasion to the significant day in people's lives, presiding officer retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon urged Ireland's newest citizens to embrace their communities and bring with them some of their own traditions.
"You do not have to forget your own country or your own people, or your own traditions. Bring with you your music and your stories these are not contraband in this country," he said to a loud ripple of applause.
He said many of the countries the new citizens had hailed from boasted strong legacies such as India and Pakistan's cricket expertise, New Zealand's rugby prowess and South Americans skill on the soccer field.
Perhaps, it might be too late for this year's Euro championships put perhaps it would make a difference to Ireland's sporting teams in the future, he quipped.
Yesterday, during four ceremonies, some 4,000 people from 110 countries swore their loyalty to the Irish State and received their naturalisation certificates. They then stood to attention before the Irish Tricolour as the Garda Band struck up 'Amhran na bhFiann'.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter told those gathered for the first 20-minute ceremony of the day that many had waited a "considerable time" to become Ireland's newest citizens.
Yet, he said, the backlog of 22,000 applications awaiting processing had been whittled down successfully over the last year, with 13,800 dealt with so far this year.
Another proudly displaying her citizenship certificate was Lalaine Brennan (48), originally from the Philippines and happily living in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, with her husband Alan (64) for the past six years.
"It is a great day for us. We are waiting a long time for this event. We are married for six years. There were requirements, I had to wait three years before I could apply," Lalaine, who works looking after elderly nuns in the Presentation Convent in Kilkenny, said. "We met through social media," she laughed.
"We started our communication and we met in Manila. Then later on we met each other and now we're together," the healthcare worker said.
"It was very emotional," Alan added.
Yemi Emmanuel (33), who along with husband Bisi Michael Emmanuel (47), originally from Nigeria and living in Dundalk, Co Louth, received her citizenship said they had been "blessed with three beautiful Irish children" in their decade in Ireland.
"We appreciate it, we don't take it for granted and we cherish it," Yemi said.
Bisi Michael was looking forward to heading home to put on his Irish tricolour trousers and cheer on the boys in green in the European Championships against Spain.