Sunday 20 May 2018

Older returnees: 'A lot of older emigrants are stranded abroad'

HOME: Patricia and Liam Murphy returned after 30 years
HOME: Patricia and Liam Murphy returned after 30 years

It was November 21, 1986, when Patricia and Liam Murphy, boarded a boat over to London. The young newlyweds from Cork city felt lonesome, but excited, as they pulled out from Rosslare.

Their story wasn't unique.

Thousands just like them were also making the journey across the Irish Sea, or the Atlantic, as the global economic recession tightened its grip.

"For me, it was a very sad day. I was only 23 and it was my first time leaving home so I found it more difficult," said Patricia, who was working at the time.

However, Liam, a builder by trade, was struggling to find work, and so they were left with no option but to emigrate.

"We thought we would stay away for four or five years but as time went by we got settled," said Patricia.

Unlike today's emigrants, the couple found it difficult to stay in touch with loved ones at home.

"It was expensive to phone home so there was a lot of reverse calls during the initial stages," she said.

As the years passed the Murphys' longing for home grew stronger, but they knew the cost of moving back would be huge. They didn't know where to start.

Then, by chance, Patricia read an article about Safe Home -a charity that supports older emigrants to move back to Ireland - in a newsletter at mass in 2013.

They got in touch and within a few months they found a place to live back in Cork.

"If I hadn't read that article we wouldn't be here right now," said Patricia.

"A lot of the focus is on getting young emigrants back but there are a lot of pensioners in the UK and US whose partners have died and they are stranded there and it's very lonely for them and they need help to get home," she said.

Sunday Independent

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