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Don't go to Australia when London is closer ... to your Mammy

When I read the article about the mother who lies crying on her daughter's bed, I realised that could be me.

If my son emigrated to Australia, I would cry on his bed every day.

That night I asked him, acting casual: "If you were to leave Ireland, where would you go?"

"New Zealand."


"It looks nice. Like Ireland."

"That's not a very good reason to go half way round the world, is it?"

"I suppose not. I'd probably go to London to work. Because it's close to Ireland."

That's what I like to hear, kiddo. But I didn't say that. Because my generation has an embargo on telling our kids not to go away, no matter how far they want to go.

And I'm beginning to think we should tell them the truth. That we want them to stay as close as possible

None of us would have welcomed our parents telling us not to go away. We'd have banged the door after us.

There's been a culture of emigration in this country since the Famine, which says that going away makes you a go-getter.

It's the mark of a healthy relationship between us and our children if we have half the world between us.

Now that I'm the mother,I wonder if it isn't time to look at emigration more forensically.

Okay, this is a small island with only one big city in it. Even when the economy is roaring, a lot of kids will go to the neighbouring island to work. But the US is another thing entirely and Australia is another world.


I can understand wanting to see those wonderful places. I can certainly understand going to work there if it's the only place you can get a job.

But is it really a good idea for a kid to head off to work on the other side of the world just for the heck of it?

You might as well go to Mars. It's so far away that even getting home in time for a funeral is difficult. Why would you do that to your poor Mammy? You never thought about her?

Well, I think kids should think about the impact on their parents when they emigrate. Government research recently showed the emigration of a kid had a big psychological impact on mothers.

It does. That's why they lie blubbing on their kids' beds.

It doesn't have the same effect on dads at all, which makes me think this culture of emigration is based on a man's view of the world. Going forth like a conquering hero, boarding pass in hand.

The kids may say they'll come back, but Mammies know that there are creatures lurking in the deep waters of Australia waiting to get their teeth into their babies.

And I'm not talking about sharks. They're nothing like as dangerous as beautiful Australian women.

Next thing you're watching your first grandchild being born on Skype. Crying on the shoulders of your other children, if you have them.

Which makes it all the more likely they'll go too, as far as they possibly can.

"She voted with her feet," my friend used to say of my sister who has lived most of her life in Oz.

She's had a fabulous life. But I don't want my kids to follow her.

And I'm trying to find a way to tell them that without pushing them out the door.