Last weekend saw the rise of the metaphorical phoenix of Christchurch city centre, our soon-to-be new home city, from the ashes, as it were, with the opening of a shopping mall constructed from shipping containers. The sun shone down on Christchurch's denizens as they came out in their droves to celebrate the city's re-invention less than a year after the first of the earthquakes, which killed 181 people and saw hundreds of buildings damaged beyond repair, hit. Judging from the video footage which we watched the prevailing mood was one of jubilation and pride. And well it might be. It is a testament to the spirit of endurance of the city and its people that they have re-invented their city so successfully and artfully. And with such an admirable and stoic eye to the future and its promise.

And as I reflected thus on the earthquakes and how much they had impacted upon, not only Christchurch, but the whole Kiwi nation I couldn't help but think of Ireland. Funnily enough. Personally I feel that what Ireland has experienced in the last few years by way of recession is almost akin to the devastation caused by a natural disaster. While there is some physical manifestation of the widespread damage wrought by the recession in Ireland, by way for example of ghost estates,  abandoned building projects and boarded up business premises, the real suffering is, in my opinion, psychological. Collectively the Irish psyche has been adversely affected by the downturn as well as the individual psyche and self esteem of so many Irish people themselves.

I remember well how, back in 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis initially hit, as the P45s were just starting to issue and the property market had just begun its dramatic descent from lofty heights I was seeking some beacon of hope in the midst of so much negativity. And, at the time, I found Obama's election into Presidential office inspiring. Perhaps disproportionately so. I had tears in my eyes as I watched him being sworn in and a trembling bottom lip as I listened to his inauguration speech. It was a lighthouse in the storm. A lifeboat to cling to in a sea of relentless despondency. And it did the trick for me then. I not only believed that “Yes, we can”. Ireland. But Yes, we will. We will endure and emerge all the better and stronger from this challenge facing us.

Three years on though I feel that sense of “Is Feidir Linn” hard to muster up in the face of so much ongoing uncertainty and financial hardship, not only in Ireland, but in the whole Eurozone.

We left Ireland in July 2010. Our Curriculum Vitaes state by way of explanation for the period since then and now: “International travel”. But this doesn't do us or our consequent personal development justice. The reality is that in the time since we left we have visited 13 different countries. We have traversed a large part of the continent of Europe on pedal power alone. We have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Southeast Asia to include more travel by pedal power and volunteering in a Vietnamese orphanage. And we have a wonderful collection of memories and photographs, an award winning blog, some published articles, a secure and happy three year old who has had the benefit of his parents love and attention 24/7 as well as a precious new life we're about to bring into the world to show for our time and travels.

Our own departure from Ireland was no doubt facilitated by Phil's career break opportunity, my contract ending and Luca's pre-school age. But it was motivated by a desire to seek out an alternative life for us all as well as to see some of the world and spend quality time together. And now we've achieved that. Phil has just secured a great job in Christchurch (Information Specialist with Landcare Research, an ecological research institute) which befits not only his qualifications, but his natural interests and talents. I am very proud of him. As for me I am looking forward in the immediate future to making a new home, bringing my second child into the world and nurturing Luca into our new life in a new city and a new country. And then, in time, to converting to practice law in New Zealand and going back into the workplace with renewed vigour and enthusiasm – a little older undoubtedly but also a little wiser.

Am I nervous about this upcoming move? I have to say that, despite being very calm throughout this pregnancy even when, up to two weeks ago, I didn't know in which country the baby would be born, I have experienced the very occasional moment of panic recently. And my bottom lip did a bit of trembling when I read the following extract from Michael D's Presidential acceptance speech: "I am particularly grateful to the more than million people who said that I am acceptable to them as the ninth President of Ireland. Always in my mind too, will be those who have gone away - and I will be their president too." Go raibh maith agat tUasal Uachtaran.

But as one of my sisters remarked when I confided in her -  this is coming from the woman who faced down fears about having a tent for a home which she proceeded, only months after breaking her shoulder in a nasty fall off her bike, to pull along behind her bike on a trailer over 2,500km through Europe. Aw– aren't sisters great? :)

I am sad, in many ways, about not returning to Ireland and to our family and friends. And I know that there will, of course, be lonely times during the upcoming months as we settle into our new lives on the other side of the world. But I do feel very grateful to have had the wonderful opportunity to travel which we've had and for the opportunity which we've been offered now in New Zealand. And I feel very positive for the future and to building a future for our little family in New Zealand. We're taking our new President up on his call to all Irish citizens to make a contribution towards "shaping the future" and  “to be the arrow, not the target”. Unfortunately, we'll be more than 18,000kms from Dublin as we do so. For now. But from there we will remember his words and embrace his message that: “We Irish are a creative, resourceful, talented and warm people, with a firm sense of common decency and justice. Let us address the next seven years with hope and courage as we work together to build the future".

Here's to you Mr. President.


At November 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM Anonymous said...

Linda Power,

What a wonderful piece of writing. Heres to your new life in New Zealand. I am so excited for you, Luca, Phil and the bump of course. Take care.

Love Jackie

At November 16, 2011 at 5:55 AM Linda de Paor said...

Thanks so much Jackie. There'll always a bed for you guys in Christchurch so keep it in mind. x


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