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'I'm the eldest of five, and four of us have already emigrated'

THERE is so much I love about America and within weeks New York felt like home.

But you still can't help feeling a pang of sadness when pictures of a friend getting married pop up on Facebook or a niece celebrates a birthday and you think; I should be there.

I'm the eldest of five children, four of whom have emigrated.

My parents were seasoned at goodbye by the time I left, having waved off my younger brother and sister to Australia.

The US felt local in comparison to the marathon journey my mother made to Perth last year. Niamh, whom she visited, is set to become an Australian citizen in the next few weeks and my little brother Shane is coming to the end of his second year on the mines.

Morgan, the second eldest is in London working as a surveyor, leaving my sister Una as the sole sibling in Dublin, where she readily admits there's "much less craic" without us.

I chose to emigrate because I felt the opportunities available to me in Dublin at the time were limited and I wanted to see the world.

Luckily, unlike so many friends and family, my hand wasn't forced by the collapse of the construction industry or the closure of my office, something I remind myself of when I'm pining for a ham and cheese toastie in Grogans or a chat with my mum.

My brothers and sisters who work in construction don't have that luxury and its upsetting to think it could be a while before returning to Ireland is an option for them.

As a family we email daily, Whatsapp constantly and Skype every other day.

It's an eternal source of amusement to us all that my father still insists on speaking forehead first into the computer camera. My mum just calls up and leaves the computer in the corner as she chats and carries on with her daily business.

The emails have become more excited lately ahead of my sisters wedding in Limerick next month and you can tell we're all frantic to get home to Meath for a few weeks.

I'll be there to see her walk down the aisle but I'll miss so many other friend's celebrate tying the knot.

Living in Brooklyn, I made made lots of American friends but you naturally gravitate toward "your own". I've met most of my Irish friends through connections at home, or Irish networking nights.

Illegal

Some are here for the year, others consider it home and many can't go home, having overstayed visas and opted for life here illegally.

Possible immigration reform and the chance of citizenship is a hot topic in places like the Puck Fair and Wren on a Friday night.

I've totally given up spelling my name correctly but I'm no longer taken aback by the bluntness of New Yorkers.

I asked one local why everyone kept grilling me on how much rent I paid and she explained: "The whole city is worried someone else is getting a better deal. Don't worry, in this city that's not a personal question."

Even the most hardened of New Yorkers will tell you that everything is great and anything is possible. That's not a bad way to live, I don't think – even if the tea is terrible.

Irish Independent