Recently I returned home after living in Australia for the past three years and already I’ve had enough. I already have enough of this constant negativity and doom and gloom that is being peddled in the Irish media; whether it is in print, online or over the airwaves. Do you have any idea what it feels like to be told ‘you’re an idiot/ejit’ for returning to your home country?, quickly followed by ‘why did you come home?’, inevitably followed by ‘sure there’s nothing in Ireland now and it’s worse it’s getting!’. It’s not even disheartening it’s annoying.
One thing I found most refreshing with Australian people is that they don’t tolerate whingers. They just get on with their day to day business without complaint or whinging. Irish people love to make up excuses for their inherent unhappiness; the weather, the lack of jobs, the emigration, the banks, the E.U.; the government; the list goes on. We seem to have an unending arsenal of excuses, ‘sure there’s nothing to do!’, ‘there’s nowhere to go!’, ‘all of my friends are gone!’ all excuses. How about joining a local community group with weekly activities? Instead of doing something positive to change our circumstance or surrounds and make the most out of the people still here we just sit back and whinge and moan.
My sister shares a similar belief to me. She recently emigrated to London for work and whenever she is home she cannot stand watching or listening to the news here. She also notes how Britain is going through equal hardships but the media don’t even bother focusing on it, they focus on the positives. I wish their Irish counterparts would do the same thing. How about instead of the constant (boring) stories about the numbers leaving and their reasons, the lack of jobs, the lack of opportunities, report on maybe a home grown start up business that was set up in these harsh times that has prospered. How about stories focused on returning emigrants, people who arrive home armed with new skills set, greater knowledge and perspective with a can do attitude? People that are willing to give their homeland another go, people who want to change and improve Ireland for the better.
Young people emigrate to forge a better life for themselves and this image that is portrayed of the parents left behind weeping & mourning their loss is very much exaggerated from reality. The majority of young people I met in Australia were more than happy to settle and embrace the lifestyle there.
Which is the main problem here, why do they not want to come home? Purely because of word of mouth? Why shouldn’t Irish people want to live in their own country? Why is it a taken that every generation in some way or shape ‘has’ to emigrate? This shrug the shoulder attitude ‘sure it’s the way it’s always been!’ Why are there so many positives associated with leaving home? And in turn why are they so many negatives associated with staying at home? Not everyone wants to be a sheep and follow the flock to Oz or Canada. Some people are happy enough to tough it out in their own country, why aren’t they being reported on? Why aren’t they being treated like the golden generation of bright young people versus those who emigrated en masse? Why is the positive can do attitude that young emigrants bring to their new countries not being reported on in this country? Surely those that left haven’t taken it all with them? There is an inherent potential in Irish people that’s being wasted around the world rather than utilized in Ireland.
Why can’t we be proud of where we come from instead of constantly running it down? It’s no coincidence that people living abroad become more patriotic and proud of where they come from. Australians are fiercely proud of their country (a fact which is hammered home constantly in their news and advertisements) and bristle with anger when accused of lacking pride in their nation, why can’t Irish people be the same? Why have we to emigrate en masse to find our pride? Why can’t they feel like that living at home?
People seem to take some perverse joy out of how it’s reported that it’s so(ooooo) much better in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the like. Like it somehow justifies Irish people’s narrow minded beliefs which are being constantly fed by the media. It’s not all peaches and roses in Australia, the novelty of the holiday sunning it up on Bondi Beach soon wears off. It soon becomes the new daily grind, albeit in a place with more sunshine.
Since returning, from what I can tell, (and from talking to my family over the three years), the day to day lifestyle in Ireland hasn’t changed much. We’re not going around cap in hand as the international media would like to portray us. Sure there’s not as much money in the country but we are not dying on our feet. Can’t we try to inspire change in our own island instead of waiting for the E.U. and Angela Merkel and her cohorts to wave a magic wand over us and make it all better. Incentives like the Gathering deserve a lot more credit and support than they are given. People attempting to reconnect with their individual communities. People who are trying to enrich community and parish life through various pro-active pursuits.
I’m not in any way pretending or suggesting I have any answers to our problems as a nation but surely we must try embracing a more positive attitude and outlook. We need to recapture some of the bravado, real or imagined, that the boom installed in us as a people. We’ve come through numerous recessions and hardships as a people, why does this recession and economic downturn have to be the be all and end all?
We all know we’re in a terrible recession; we don’t need constant reminding of the fact. When I left three years ago it was the same ‘oh woe is me’ attitude. The generation lost, the brain drain, the families broken up, the heavy hearts of those emigrating. We all know negative and sensationalist news stories sell, where’s the balance in modern Irish media? It’s about time we showed the other side of the story. I feel the media can help no end if they could alter their narrow prism of reporting from the negative to the positive. There needs to be a better balance in current Irish media, an alternative to this one way street of negativity. Just change the record Ireland, along with your media. You never know you might just inspire a change.
Yours sincerely a disillusioned returning emigree,
David Murphy (a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Visual Media),