We head back Down Under for this week’s Rebel Rambler. Blackrock’s Allan Russell left Cork and Ireland about three years ago after the work began to dry up in Dublin and home. Himself and his girlfriend Ciara McSweeney, left at first to see some of the world, eventually settling in Australia. However, with the advances in technology bringing Church Road closer to Sydney Harbour, a little taste of Cork is never too far away.
Name: Allan Russell
Occupation: IT Test Lead
Where in Cork you are from: Blackrock
How long has it been since you emigrated from Ireland?
My girlfriend and I left the Emerald Isle three years ago with no set plan for where we would end up. For the year and a half prior to this we had also lived in Dublin since we struggled to find IT work in our respective areas in Cork City.
Why did you decide to leave Cork?
The first time we left Cork to make the short journey to Dublin was purely down to availability of work. We were applying for jobs around the country and we were both lucky enough to get work in Dublin. Towards the end of our year and a half in Dublin the recession was really starting to take a grip (especially in consultancy which was my area) and my company reduced me to three working days a week and reduced my wages. I couldn’t afford to live in Dublin on approximately €15,000 a year with rent, car loan, insurance etc. so we decided it was a good time to move on. Also my best mates growing up were all after leaving or in the process of leaving (Damien Delea – London, Paul O’Donovan – Chicago, Raymond Cunningham – Edinburgh, Emmet Leahy – Australia). We spent a month at home getting things organised and left in June 2009 for Asia with the thought in mind that Australia may be a good option.
What made you emigrate to the place you live in at the moment?
Upon landing in Sydney we were really taken by the city. Its very vibrant and beautiful. It has a wonderful mix of cultures and there is a great buzz around the city with events on constantly throughout the year. We applied for work and our first jobs in Sydney were for very good companies (Sony and Macquarie Bank). Both offered excellent wages and I was lucky enough to be offered sponsorship after six months in my role. Sponsorship means the company will pay for a four year visa for you to stay in the country so you can remain working for them. We are now living in Sydney two and a half years.
What’s your favourite thing about your new home?
We have a great community of fellow ‘orphans’ over here (other friends who left Europe for fairer shores) that really make the city a home. The companies really believe in a work life balance also. For example, I could get a ferry through the harbour to work at 7.30am, work for the day (and go to the gym provided at lunch time), finish at 4.30/5pm and be on a beach for a surf before dinner. It is a fantastic city if you have an active lifestyle. Finally, the money to be earned here is a massive draw. It is an expensive city but the wages reflect such, so that it is possible to save money whilst also enjoying an active social life.
What do you miss most about Cork?
It is the most obvious answer, but the people are the main aspect that we miss. Since leaving both our families have grown and missing the kids and immediate family is hard work. There are plenty of small things that I really miss like hurling and football, watching the Champions league with mates in town, Centra hot chicken rolls, proper chocolate, KC’s chipper etc. One of the hardest parts of every trip home is watching Blackrock hurling since it was a big part of our youth and missing the banter in the team is massive.
What do you miss least about Cork?
I don’t think anyone can deny that the country lost the run of itself. The Celtic Tiger seemed to develop a society of greed and envy where prices were inflated from houses to groceries to alcohol etc. The main staying power of Sydney is that though prices are high, wages reflect this and you can live comfortably. The thought of family members and friends back home having to worry from week to week about their mortgage and feeding their children is very troubling. It goes without saying that this fear is the aspect of living at home that I miss the least.
How did family and friends react when you emigrated?
I think they were all quite understanding. Most knew that my job in Dublin was coming to an end shortly and it was a good time for us to leave. My parents and family were sad but supportive. We were lucky in a way that we weren’t tied down with a mortgage or kids.
Do you plan to return to live in Ireland anytime in the future?
We do want to return to live in Ireland for certain. For all of the little problems with Ireland, I absolutely love it. It can be quite trying at times but Cork is a fantastic city and if we can bounce back from the current recession we would jump at the opportunity to move home. I think realistically it may be around two years before we are back home but hopefully can make a trip for a family occasion in between.
Would you like to raise your family abroad?
Two couples of our friends over here have had children and it really has shown the close community of mates we have here. Everyone does their best to help out since they don’t have their own family and grandparents here to help and advise. When we originally landed I didn’t think it would be a possibility but looking at the couples out here that are doing it, it is definitely more of a possibility. It is a great country for a child to grow up and go to school in also.
Does social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Skype make it easier to move abroad?
Without doubt, phone calls are brilliant but I never realised the difference that being able to actually see your family as you speak to them would make. It excellent and with some of the new apps like WhatsApp it makes it very easy to send pics, videos etc.
If you would like to be a Rebel Rambler, contact Peter Horgan at email@example.com