London – A Fresh Start

Posted March 16, 2012 in Sonas News

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office in Ireland show that more than 3,000 Irish people leave the country each month – the highest figure since the 19th Century. The number of Irish emigrating has more than doubled in the past two years with an average of 111 now departing every day. The vast majority of emigrants are aged between 15 and 44 and most of them are heading to the English-speaking countries of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A lot to contemplate.

But there are positives in this. It’s true. Before, the opportunities of foreign lands just knocked, but now they unceremoniously kick down the door and drag you to your nearest airport. Some people say they had ‘no choice’ when they decided to leave Ireland. But now, as a result they have countless choices and limitless opportunities.

Dara O’ Briain, comedian and London resident: ‘In my opinion, four great cities in the world. Four members of the A-list. And Irish people live a short plane ride from the only one that doesn’t need a Morrison visa or a working knowledge of French or Japanese.’

Dara O Briain

‘The first borough I ever lived in, ordinary, down-at-heel Haringey, was said to be home to 165 spoken languages. Admittedly, I was probably the only Gaelgeoir adding to that tally and got to use very little of the teanga dhúchais while I negotiated the kebab shops and fried-chicken emporia of the Upper Holloway Road.’

‘But when the sun comes out and people are spilling out of pubs and milling around parks; or when you’re on a bridge over the Thames and you look up and see Big Ben in one direction and St Paul’s in the other; or when you flick through the listings bible Time Out and realise that all human life is here, this is when London sneaks up and impresses you.’

For generations, Irish have treaded the well-trodden route to London. But the Irish coming here are changing now. They want more.  They hurl themselves into the city they are embracing the multiculturism and want to be a part of everything that is good in the city. But London is changing too. As Economist David McWilliams put it, ‘You know Britain is changing when you have Prince Charles’ son, future King of England, high-fiving English rapper Dizzie Rascal — son of a Ghanaian single-mother.’ London has a new identity.  McWilliams holds it close to his heart, ‘One of Europe’s finest mega-cities, a fantastic example of the power of cities where the best brains, the most curious people and the finest human capital converge.’

The Irish who succeed here, succeed because they have the London mind-set; they come here to make it and to make a difference.  They have confidence in themselves, pride in their heritage and buzzing with a purpose. People like O’Briain and McWilliams have embraced London and all it has to offer and have discovered the simple fact that this city will give far more than it will take.