In the days coming up to Christmas we saw tears of joy at the airports as families were reunited. Grown men cried as they held their adult children. Mothers were overcome and it usually fell to their sons and daughters to say the few words to the camera. These returning Irish looked healthy, sounded confident, and were welcome additions to workforces elsewhere.
By today, most of them have been back to 35,000 feet, putting oceans between them and their loved ones once more. For some it will not be all heartache. They will be looking forward to the arms of their Aussie lover, looking forward to friends in San Francisco, or excited about the new job in New York. They are the lucky ones.
For many at home the tears of joy will be replaced by tears of resignation and anguish. A few words over a cup of tea at breakfast is preferable to hours of Facetime.
A lot of brave faces are being put on. A lot of quiet tears are shed.
If I was to advise any twentysomething, I would always recommend a few years away. Travel does broaden the mind. For many it was time to leave the parental home and make their own homes. Had they stayed in Ireland they would have been counting the days to when they could get their own flat. Instead they find themselves coming back to bedrooms that feel a bit childish, that have been preserved like shrines in their absence. They will be happy to be home, but realise that they have outgrown much of what home meant.
The families they are coming back to are often fractured so there is a juggle between two parents' houses and their new partners in a country that has not yet learned now to handle divorce and separation maturely. It is still too new.
She's Leaving Home, from Sergeant Pepper still gives me a lump in the throat, and not just because she was leaving for a relationship with a man in the 'motor trade' that did not bode well. McCartney captures the anguish of parents wondering what they did wrong. Today's Irish parents did nothing wrong. Their Government did.
Sinead O'Connor is not one I look to for advice. Like many I think her opinions are overindulged because of her magnificent voice and ability to interpret songs. But when she started talking about needing a second Republic, I found myself nodding in agreement. This one has failed. I am old enough to remember Garret FitzGerald launching a Constitutional Crusade. And I also remember him, and Haughey, bending the knee and making the constitution worse, not better. I am glad to have been one of the 33 per cent.
You don't have to leave Ireland to get a perspective on this country. But it helps. Travelling should be a voluntary act to further one's life in some direction. Not an escape from a Republic that cannot even take care of its citizens.
Sunday Indo Living