Mayfield native Mark left Ireland over a year ago to teach English in Asia, with a bit of travel thrown into the mix. While the lack of work certainly pushed Mark more to travel, it turned out to be the right thing for the right moment as he takes in the sights, smells and sounds of living in Asia. Now living in Hong Kong, Mark can travel almost anywhere in Asia and further afield, making not so much an emigrant but rather Cork’s very own jet-setter.
Name: Mark O’Leary
Occupation: ESL Teacher
Where in Cork you are from: Mayfield
How long has it been since you emigrated from Ireland?
I left home in November 2010, so just over a year and a half now.
Why did you decide to leave Cork?
I guess the same reason as most people – work. I graduated from UCC in 2009 with a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering, but obviously jobs were drying up pretty fast at that time, especially for engineers. Teaching was always something I wanted to do, so I thought why not give it a go while experiencing another country at the same time? Looking back on everything now, it was probably a blessing in disguise for me. If the economy hadn’t taken a nose dive, I’d most likely be sitting at a computer in some engineering office right now…
What made you emigrate to the place you live in at the moment.
I was thinking of moving abroad, but hadn’t made up my mind where yet, maybe Japan or New Zealand, but then I met a friend of mine who had just come back from a year in HK and she sold the place to me.
What’s your favourite thing about your new home?
Well, it’s an amazing city, but funnily enough, my favourite thing about Hong Kong actually has nothing to do with Hong Kong at all, but rather where it is in the world. It’s a great hub for travelling around Asia, and couple with that the amount of time off you get as a teacher, and you’ve got the perfect opportunity to see some of the most incredible places in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to visit over 10 different countries since leaving Ireland, with many more on the agenda.
What do you miss most about Cork?
Knorr pepper sauce! I know it’s not exclusive to Cork, but you just can’t get it over here! Food in general is a big one, obviously family and friends, and just being able to walk about in the countryside with nobody around, you don’t get that in Hong Kong.
What do you miss least about Cork?
I guess it’s a case of “absense makes the heart grow fonder” as nothing negative immediately springs to mind. Having said that however, I know that if I came back for good in the morning, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be itching to set sail again.
How did family and friends react when you emigrated?
They were very supportive actually (though I’m sure they were secretly devastated!). They understood it was the right move to make. I was back home for the first time actually at Easter for my brother’s wedding, so it was really great to see everyone again.
Do you plan to return to live in Ireland anytime in the future?
Oh definitely! I’m loving life here in HK, and I plan to stay for maybe another year or two, but Ireland will always be my home. I couldn’t imagine myself settling down anywhere else in the world.
Would you like to raise your family abroad?
Not at all. I guess I want my kids to be raised with Irish values and traditions. As I said above, Ireland is my home and I want my kids to feel the same way. I’d definitely encourage them to travel abroad when they’re older though.
Does social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Skype make it easier to move abroad?
Oh, of course. It’s so easy to keep in contact with family and friends back home, and even friends who have moved away themselves. It definitely helps to ease any homesickness you might have. I guess in my case it helped as well that I came over here with my girlfriend, Aisling, so we both had someone to lean on, and had a little piece of home with us.
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