In this week’s Across the Water, Martin Grant talks to Dolly Larkin, originally from Ard Easmuinn, Dundalk, now living in Canada.
I’m originally from Ard Easmuinn in Dundalk.
Names of family?
I lived in Ard Easmuinn with my sister,Peggy,and brother-in-law Sean Ford. I met my husband, Gerry Larkin, who is a local chap from the town. He lived in O’Hanlon Park and was a member of the Cardinal Dalton Athletic club. His parents were Tommy and Patsy Larkin. He is a Millwright.
When did you leave and why?
We left in 1977 with a three year old and a six week old. It was really tough when we got here. We only had $2000 to our name. We stayed with my sister Anne for six weeks and then we were on our own. I was 25 and Gerry was 26. I hated the place with a passion and wanted to go home every day.
What’s your occupation?
My occupation is a Banker
What’s the biggest difference in settling into your new home?
Canada is a brilliant country, but it is also the land of strangers. We as Irish tend to stick to our own. we belong to an Irish club here.
Is the social life much different from home?
At home you can go out for a drink and you are sure to meet people you know. In Canada, you have to drive for miles to a pub. Most people socialise in their own homes. My children have had a better life here than they would have had at home. Lots more for them to see and do. We can be in the United States in an hour.
How do you like to relax?
Our summer’s here are brilliant. We get to relax at the pool and are sure to get nice weather. The winters on the other hand are brutal - snow, snow and more snow and it’s freezing cold!
Have you been home since leaving and what changes have you noticed?
When Gerry’s dad died, we all went home for the funeral. We didn’t want to come back, but felt we didn’t have a choice. We arrived here with 50p in our pockets. It was the worst time in our lives. If it wasn’t for the help of two friends we met here, I don’t know what we would have done. But things got a bit better. We saved every penny and bought a house a year later. Then Sinead started school and I got pregnant with our son, so we were kind of stuck here, but we went home two years later to live and that was a disaster. People change, things change, so you can never really go back. We expected things to be the same and thought we would have been welcomed with open arms.
What’s the best and worst things about being away from home?
The whole lifestyle of living in Canada is great. The worst part is living away from my family. I would love to return home to retire, but my children Sinead, Aine and TJ plus my three grandchildren Ciara, Cian and Pearse live here now and I couldn’t leave them. My children have been able to travel to all parts of America. I find it was easier to educate them here than home, even though I think the education in Ireland is second to none.
Have you plans in the future to return home to Ireland for good?
We returned to Ireland to live three times and we always came back for the same reason. No work for us there. It cost us thousands of dollars every time we went back and we had to start all over again when we came back. So we decided enough was enough and we put down roots here in Canada and now call it our home. We will always love Ireland and the people there and love going back as often as we can. We teach our children all about their heritage every day, we never want to forget where we came from.
Name one thing from home that you wish you could buy in your local store?
I really miss the chocolates from home and Tayto crisps. But most of all I miss my family and friends. I wish I could bottle them and take them over here.
Have you a message for your friends and family?
I would like to say a big hello to all the Larkin gang. My sister Siobhan Duffy and her family, my sister Peggy Ford and her family, our best friends in all the world Tony and Ann Guest of Blackrock and their family. Hope to see you all in July when we return.