‘I intended to stay a year, that was 10 years ago’

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In this week in Across the Water, Martin Grant talks to Muriel Kirkby, originally from Fairgreen Row,Dundalk, now living in Adelaide, South Australia

In this week in Across the Water, Martin Grant talks to Muriel Kirkby, originally from Fairgreen Row,Dundalk, now living in Adelaide, South Australia

Originally from?

I am originally from the Fairgreen Row, Dundalk.

Parents names and names of family?

Mum and Dad names are Austin and Charlotte Dawe.

When did you leave and why?

In 1995 I qualified as a nurse from st. Mary’s Drumcar. That same year my mum died of cancer. My mum and dad had planned to visit my uncle Colm in Sydney in the Christmas of 1995, but that didn’t happen due to mums passing.I went on the trip to Sydney with my dad in December 1995. I fell in love with Australia and vowed to return.

In 1997, a fellow friend and I planned our adventure around the world. I racked through everywhere I had family - London, Austria, Bali, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. It was in Adelaide we both met the guys who were to become our husbands. We stayed in Australia for a year, based in Adelaide, and had the most fantastic time. When the year was up I returned to Ireland.

Andrew quickly followed me and we became engaged. We got married 2 years later and a year after that had our daughter Áislinn who is now 12. During our fifth year in Ireland, Andrews mum was diagnosed with breast cancer so we returned to Adelaide to be with the family. We had only intended spending one year in Adelaide - somehow we will clock over 10 years this December.

What’s your occupation?

I trained as a nurse in Drumcar and then did my postgraduate studies in paediatric nursing at Temple Street Children’s Hospital and UCD. I then studied management and business development in Australia and I am soon to complete my masters degree. I no longer work in the nursing field. I am now an executive manager with the South Australian government - department of communities and social inclusion. A job I love.

What’s the biggest difference in settling into your new home?

Adelaide is a very lively city. Biggest difference living here is that I have a swimming pool in the back yard and we are surrounded by a vineyard. Every day, dusk and dawn, the kangaroos come through. It’s gorgeous.

Is the social life much different from home?

Social life is very much orientated around people’s homes such as BBQ’s and pool parties. Instead of the good old fashioned pub crawl, we do winery tours - ie- go from winery to winery tasting until you can’t taste no more.

How do you like to relax?

We relax by going to the beach, we have about 100 great ones to choose from, spending time with friends and travelling. We have extensively explored Australia in the 10 years, drinking wine and spending time with the many overseas visitors.

Have you been home since leaving and what changes have you noticed?

We are really lucky and have been home every 18 months to 2 years since leaving. It’s very important that Áislinn stays connected with her heritage and my extensive family in Dundalk . My dad, who turns 85 in January, comes over every Christmas and spends 3 months with us which we love. We feel very blessed that he can still do that. He brings us our supplies of Barry’s tea, Tayto crisps and Irish chocolate.

What’s the best and worst things about being away from home?

The worst thing about being away is missing family and friends, especially at events such as Aislinn’s birthday parties, First Communion and Confirmation. None of my family were able to come to my 40th this year. Dermot Dawe (brother), if you are reading this my birthday was July 6th and I still am awaiting birthday wishes. Best thing is weather,lifestyle and when people come and visit. We have a fantastic, easy going and relaxed lifestyle.

Have you plans in the future to return home to Ireland for good?

Our aim in the future is to have homes in both Dundalk/ Ravensdale and Adelaide and split our time between the two places that have afforded us great upbringings, great childhoods and memories.

Name one thing from home that you wish you could buy in your local store?

One thing I’d love to have within reach is a Mullens chicken burger or Roma chips and vinegar.

Have you a message for your friends and family?

I am looking forward to seeing my dad at Christmas and my best friend from school Allison Cooley and Eunan Smith are coming over for Christmas this year. We caught up with everyone else when we were home last Christmas, but I wish everyone well and hope to see them in Adelaide soon. Lots of love Muriel, Andrew and Áislinn.