Cork people abroad send messages home to loved onesDecember 24, 2022 Charles M. Wilson
Grace Donahue lives in Wilmington, Delaware, USA
I came to the US in 1989, at a different time in this country, with the expectation of staying two years. My goal was to complete my Masters in Food Marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and return to Cork.
Well, 33 years later, I still find myself here. Opportunity after opportunity led me to become a permanent resident and a US citizen in 2006.
I still miss Cork and my family very much. As all my family still live in Cork or the satellite cities I appreciate the time I’ve had to visit them over the years.
My husband loves visiting his now second home, Cork. Our 13 year old daughter Aisling loves Ireland and Cork, especially the Olde Sweet Shop in Shandon. They reportedly have “insane sweets.”
In our area there is nothing quite like being at home in Cork for Christmas. Granted, we have ice skating in every major city and the most beautiful gardens in Longwood, Pennsylvania, both just a short drive from our home.
Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC, all with their magnificent Christmas exhibits and window displays just hours away bring the magic of Christmas to all. But it’s nothing like a Cork Christmas.
What I miss most is walking around town and stopping at the Share Manger to say a prayer and make an offering. A walk through Peace Park or Bishop Lucey Park with all the lights is also very memorable. I miss driving down Patrick Street with the lights on and browsing the shops, looking at all the goodies the English market has to offer and it was great fun looking at all the Christmas decorations too. The best part is the fancy decorations at the fountain, which bring great joy as you walk by!
The Irish Christmas trees – imperfectly perfect! With their fairy lights twinkling in the front porches of the housing developments, I can’t say you can see that here in the US! The ornaments and tinsel all add to the festive feelings. I miss walking through the Wilton Shopping Centre, the hustle and bustle and meeting my friends for a coffee at O’Brien’s. The Christmas cake, cherry pie, spiced beef, oh Joy, selection boxes, Cadbury chocolate boxes and jars from Quality Street, Celebrations and of course smiling chocolate Santas all bring great joy.
I also miss the Afternoon Tea cookie box with the Jelly Star rings and the shortbread fingers.
But what I miss the most is my family. The memories of midnight mass at 10pm, coming home and exchanging some gifts before going to bed for the night all make me smile.
Then, on Christmas afternoon, after supper we sat by the fire and watched TV, we were all full. With hats on, we all watched them doze off the afternoon. After that we ate some sandwiches and watched Mrs. Brown’s Boy’s Christmas Special.
The best part of Christmas at our house, however, was St. Stephen’s Day. My father’s birthday is the day after Christmas. Our whole extended family gathers to celebrate it. At 3 p.m. there is a repeat of the Christmas dinner, although we were all still full from the day before. It’s the best family day ever, with so many memories. The fact that the whole family has been reunited under one roof in recent years brings fantastic memories.
Unfortunately, my last Christmas in Ireland was in 2012.
I definitely miss my family. The decision to move away from home was hard and living our lives separated by an ocean is still the hardest decision I’ve made in my life. It never gets easier. Home is where the heart is and always will be. That’s cork to me.
We will not be there this year to celebrate Christmas together. Instead, we send our love and best wishes to everyone. Nollaig Shona Duit and Happy New Years until we’re all together in 2023!
Merry Christmas from Delaware, Grace, Joe and Aisling Donahue. Grace’s family is Marie and Noel O’Shea, Summerstown Road, Wilton. She has one brother, Con O’Shea and family, Mrs. Muireann and children Mary, Sarah and Neville from Rochestown, another brother, Barry O’Shea and family, wife Elaine and son Alex from Midleton and her aunt George (her nickname ) O’Donovan and husband Jim and cousins James, Bobby and Dede from St Lukes.
Rory Buckley, Richmond Hill, lives in Perth, Western Australia where he works in project management for Irish company Kilmore Group.
Sadly we lost my father unexpectedly in March of this year so it’s going to be a very different Christmas and as always it’s family that you miss at this time of year.
We wish all our family members and friends back home lots of love and happiness this Christmas and look forward to seeing you all next year.
Audrey Dixon (née Barrett) from Douglas now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her English husband Scott, daughter Poppy, five, son Charlie, three, and their dog Billy.
I left Ireland in 2008 and have lived in Auckland since 2011. I’m a recruitment consultant but I run a flooring business with my husband.
I haven’t had a Christmas in Cork since 2012 and I really miss Christmas at home.
The wonderful Christmas atmosphere in the city with the lights, the Share nativity scene, Christmas music in all the shops, the lights by the lough and spending Christmas Day at my parents house with all my family, so special.
We luckily managed to come back every year or two, although we hadn’t returned in three years due to Covid. We have just spent seven weeks at home in May/June being able to introduce Charlie to everyone as only my parents had met him when they stopped by for his birth just before the Covid outbreak. We had a great time and will be back for my brother’s wedding next year.
Luckily my parents Tina and Jimmy Barrett are with us in New Zealand right now and will be with us for their first Christmas away from home which will be so special for all of us especially the kids.
I would like to say a Merry Christmas to my brother James, his wife Caroline and their children Peter, Emily and Lucy who live in Rochestown, my sister Aisling and her partner Luigi who live in Opera Lane, and my brother Richard and his fiancée Róisín who live in Dun Laoghaire. And also my aunt and godmother Anne O’Sullivan and my cousin David Kelly from Douglas.
I love and miss them all and can’t wait to see them at Richard and Róisín’s wedding in June.