05 April 2014

A Decade in the Making

Ten years ago, as we were preparing to leave Alaska, Bill and I decided that we would move to Ireland "someday." Bill also discovered that he could get Irish citizenship by descent because his paternal grandparents were both born there, so he started gathering the necessary paperwork--birth, death, and marriage certificates. At the time, we had two older dogs that we did not want to give up, so we decided to move to Klamath Falls, Oregon for a while. When the dogs had lived their lives, the next move would be to Ireland. As is so often the case with plans, things didn't work out that way. Five years ago we left Oregon and spent almost a year wandering, including a 5 month stay in Niagara Falls, NY. After that, it was on to Maine, where we happily settled in Brunswick for four years. During all of this time, we kept on talking about going to Ireland someday. We had thought we might finally do it in May of this year, but just before Christmas we learned that the company where Bill had been working was going to be sold. A decision would have to be made--he was offered a job with the new company, but if he took it, there would be a month of training after the sale was finalized and if we followed our plan, he would have left a few weeks after that training was complete. That didn't seem fair to his co-workers or possible employers, so we decided that it was time to go--in April rather than May. When the sale was final and we were allowed to talk about it, we gave our landlord notice and started redistributing our possessions. Mailing things is expensive, so we knew that we would be taking only what we could bring with us, and we limited ourselves to 4 suitcases and the carry-ons. We each got a free bag with our ticket and could buy additional baggage at $100 per bag. Each bag could weigh no more than 23 kg (50 pounds). There were two bags that were close, but we came in at 22.2 kg each! Yay!
We sold a lot of our stuff on a local yard sale page on Facebook, we donated a bunch to local thrift stores and the clothes bank, and we gave stuff to friends. We've moved a lot in the 34 years we've been together and several times in the past decade. Each time we downsize a little more. This was the first time we downsized so much and were so limited in what we could take. It was hard to let go of some things at the time, but there is also something very freeing about decluttering and minimizing. And I noticed that I was envious of the people at the airport who had one small backpack.

On April 2, our friend, Nicki, dropped us and our luggage at the bus stop so we could catch the bus to Logan Airport in Boston. As we were riding out of Brunswick, I teared up thinking about what a great place it is and the wonderful people we were leaving. I loved living there. Because luggage space and weight were so tight, we were dressed like the Michelin Man and Wife as we headed to Logan and throughout the handing over of the luggage and the security process--and I have to say, the TSA people there were great. They were friendly and respectful while doing their jobs thoroughly and efficiently. As soon as I was through the line and had put my shoes back on, I found the nearest bathroom and removed a few layers of clothes.

We had a lovely flight on Virgin Atlantic, a hellish hour and a half in Heathrow looking for terminal 1, and then a short flight to Shannon, where we had a private taxi waiting for us. The driver was a very friendly and nice woman who is also an immigrant. She came here 10 years ago from Poland. She was so excited to hear that we plan to stay here and she shared some of her observations about the country and people. It was a great ride that seemed to be over in a flash! We got to the BnB and Bill and the poor guy who is co-owner with his wife huffed and puffed and dragged our luggage upstairs.


We walked into town to get some lunch and a cup of coffee. We walked further and found a supermarket where we bought some fruit, rolls, and cream cheese to have for supper, and then we came back. We met the other owner, Rose, who is a lot of fun to talk to. Then we came up to our room and tried not to crash too early. That's how it came to be that yesterday we woke up in Ireland after 10 years of thinking about "someday." Someday is here and we will be somewhere in Ireland--we just don't know quite where yet.


  1. Hi - I found your blog through Expat Interviews. Love reading about your backstory. My husband and I also Americans who have degrees in anthropology, Irish passports (thru my grandmother) and we lived in Portland too before moving to Scotland! The Irish passports are such a great thing to have - gives you freedom to live in the EU. Look forward to following your adventures. Cheers - Ellen

    1. Hi Ellen! Thanks for reading!

      At the moment, Bill is the one with the Irish passports--when he got his citizenship in 2005, they were just changing the rules, so I could not apply for one. For now, I am registered as the spouse of an Irish citizen and that's good for a year, then I can renew for another year, and then 3 years. I think I can apply for citizenship myself after 3 years living here, but I'm not sure yet whether I will. So true about the passport making things a lot easier, though, and when Bill got his, I was particularly thrilled about the EU part of the bargain :-) It might be worth getting Irish citizenship just for that! Are you still living in Scotland? What part?

      Have a great weekend! Shari

    2. I had heard they had changed the rules around Irish passports and that things were more difficult. Fortunately, my husband got his before then. We've been expats since 2001. We were in Scotland (up near Glasgow) and then moved to New Zealand. My husband is now back working in Scotland for a while (he is an archaeologist) while I am back in the States for a while visiting family. Cheers - Ellen