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STORIES FROM ABROAD - 1: 'Our priorities changed after our daughter Mia was born'

Story by Olga Aughey

Tuesday, 13th February, 2018 11:12am

STORIES FROM ABROAD - 1: 'Our priorities changed after our daughter Mia was born'

Ken with fiancé Nicole and baby daughter Mia.

‘Of course we have the romantic idea of moving home but we are also realists. We know it’s not going to be easy.”

Kenneth Corcoran moved to The States in the Millennium year and was wowed by the bright lights of New York. Post 9/11, and with no Green Card, it meant six years of exile from home, but a death in the family changed all that.

Ken subsequently secured his visa to allow him to return home as often as he wanted. But now with the birth of his daughter Mia, his perspective on life, as well as that of his fiancé, Nicole from Cork, has changed dramatically, and they plan to return home later this year to raise a family at a slower pace of life.

Here he offers some advice for anyone who may be thinking of travelling to broaden their horizons.

“I’m originally from Cooksboro, Cloughan, Mullingar. I went to Loughegar National School and St Mary’s CBS for secondary school in town. Growing up in Westmeath was great. We lived in the countryside so the freedom we had was fantastic, especially in the summertime. We could leave the house in the morning and not be home till dinner time. Off on adventures or cycling our bikes around the back roads for hours! It was great, although it was a different time.

“In early 2000 I was working in construction in Dublin alongside a guy who had just returned from New York. I used to love hearing his stories of what it was like there, even if his stories seemed part fact, part fiction! He ultimately put me in touch with his friend in NY for accommodation and got me a job there.

“It had put the idea in my head that maybe it was worth a try. Go to America, see what it’s like. Originally it was myself and a friend of mine who decided to fly to New York, but when the time came to book our tickets, he backed out. It changed nothing for me as I was determined to go with or without him. So, on July 12, 2000, I headed to New York.

“My first impressions of the Big Apple were ‘wow!’ It’s an amazing city and it is non-stop. I remember it taking me time to get my sense of direction but I settled pretty quick. I was a carpenter so I got a job straight away in Manhattan and there was so many young Irish there it helped with settling in.

“A year later and September 11th had changed everything with travel and immigration. I didn’t return to Ireland from January 2001 till November 2007, but I was fortunate to have my Mum, Dad and sisters travel to see me which helped. There were times I felt homesick, but not enough to make me want to leave. I guess I always felt home would always be there.

“I returned to Ireland in November 2007 when my Mum, who had been battling cancer, died suddenly. Unfortunately she passed as I was mid-air and I didn’t find out till I landed in Dublin. I was devastated. It was an extremely hard time for me and my family as my Dad was also battling the disease. Some 14 months later my Dad also passed away. This was a terrible tragedy as both my parents were young people.

“At the start of 2009 I was left with a decision to make - do I stay in Mullingar or do I go back to New York? I decided to move back to New York that March and once back there I immediately started to work on getting my Green Card so I could travel home to help my sisters if needed. As I said, home was always there, but now it had changed drastically.”

In 2011, Ken met his now fiancé Nicola, who was originally from Cork. “She was managing a bar/restaurant in midtown that I was doing some work on. We fell in love and in 2014 we welcomed our little girl Mia into the world. 

We try to get home once or twice a year and split our time between Westmeath and Cork.”

So what are the main differences between New York and home?

“The anonymity you have here in New York, which is nice as opposed to everyone knowing your name or business which I associate with home. Plus the ability to get pretty much anything at anytime of the day or night in NY is huge! Grocery shopping at midnight if you are so inclined! The downsides, however, are the stress levels. New York stress, especially when driving, is at another level in contrast to the laid back feel I get when I’m home.

“If I’d been asked four years ago about returning to Ireland my answer would’ve been a point blank ‘no’, but since the arrival of my daughter I started to look at things differently. Priorities changed. Last year was a big year for my family and I. In July myself and Nicola got engaged and we bought a house in a small village 25 minutes north of Cork City! We decided it was time to give Ireland a try.

“We plan to move back to Ireland towards the end of 2018. We definitely felt more of a longing for home raising our daughter here without any of our immediate family around us to help. 

“We want our daughter to have a closer relationship with her grandparents, aunties, uncle and many cousins. 

“We also want her to have the freedom like we had growing up. While living in New York is great, it doesn’t give you that. We are looking forward to life being a little more laid back.

“Of course we have the romantic idea of moving home but we are also realists. We know it’s not going to be easy. We are both excited and nervous to move back home but as we’re all American citizens the door will always be open should we ever decide to return to the States.

“As regards anyone looking to move abroad, I would highly recommend it as it opens your mind to different things, cultures, ways of life. The main advice I would give to anyone considering moving abroad would be to not put yourself in a position that you can’t travel freely back to Ireland. Life is too short and family is very important.”

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