Anne Walsh Interview

Loretto: When did you leave Ireland?

Anne: 1991, I think. 1991, I remember Miriam and Trisha were
in London before me, I am fairly certain. And I think originally we just left
as a summer job, ah, for the summer. And then I joined them, they were at the
Park Lane Hotel. I can’t remember if you came with me? Yeah, and I think Miriam
and Trisha were already there. It was supposed to be temporary.

Loretto: It was actually 1992.

Anne: Oh it was 1992?

Loretto: Because if you remember, you, me, Trisha and
veronica were renting the house in Salthill the year after we graduated, 1991.
And Miriam was working in London and she came back. Stayed with us for a couple
of weeks and then went back and that summer, in 1992, you guys all headed off. And
I went to America for the summer. When I came back, I then joined you guys in
London in September.

Anne: That’s right, that’s right. I was trying to think, was
it two years I worked in the Park Lane hotel, because it was just easier to
work there. I was actually, I think, weren’t am? I think Miriam, Trisha, am,
did I try for a Visa, I am not too sure if I did. I remember Miriam was trying
for, what visa was it Lonnie, (Loretto) the Morrison or Donnelly at that stage?

Loretto: If they were applying for the Visa for the green
card that would have been the Morrison, I think the Donnelly was the first one
that Pauline got.

Anne: Yeah, the Donnelly would have been the first one, yeah
OK. Fair enough yeah. But I think, I remember Miriam was applying for that, and
I think Trisha as well. Personally I never thought to go to the States I think
it was too far away for me. I was kind of happy to stay near enough to London.
You know what I mean? I worked there for two years. And then I moved out and
then I went to work at the business center in Knightsbridge. And then after
that like, you know what I mean, it was just various jobs in London for the
next six or seven years. It was more like nine years in London.

Loretto: Were you really nine years in London Anne?

Anne: Am? Eight? I am nearly sure it was just over nine
years. Oh hang on, 1992, hang on hang on, I moved back, let me think. Yeah it
couldn’t have been Lon (Loretto) it must only have been eight years then
because I moved back in November 1999. November 1999 I moved home for good, I
moved back to Ireland. Wow! So that’s only eight years. I thought it was nine,
so eight years, yeah, in London in total.

Loretto: Did you have a job or a car or anything like that
in Ireland Anne before you left?

Anne: No.

Loretto: So what were conditions like in Ireland, do you
remember?

Anne: But sure it wasn’t good at all. I remember, most
summer, we had always went abroad, to Germany, you know what I mean, to look
for work and that and the summer of 1991 we decided to stay in Ireland because
we had never spent a summer in Ireland all through college, and we couldn’t get
work. We literally could not get work at all. And I mean at that stage you
might have had your degree, you know what I mean? But you weren’t employable,
there wasn’t, you know what I mean? I don’t think we were employable at that
stage. Maybe you could go on and look for further education or something like
that but I know we looked for summer work and we certainly couldn’t get it. So
the next thing to do was to go where others had gone before you, you know what
I mean like? And the lads had work in London for us. So I thought, I’ll head
there. Well London anyway was an easier place to find work.

Loretto: You deliberately choose London because of proximity
to Ireland did you?

Anne: yeah, an hour away, you know what I mean. I don’t
think, I probably have changed now, but at that stage I don’t think I would
have been happier further away. I wasn’t something I ever even, I had no
connection to the States, you know what I mean? I had never been and I had no
relations over there, you know, at all. So it wasn’t anywhere that I would
have, you know what I mean, at that stage anyway, contemplated.

Loretto: Were conditions better or worse then for you
compared to Ireland?

Anne: Oh I’d say they were better, for a start you were
working, you know what I mean. You were supported. You had, you know what I
mean, it was a very easy environment, because it was a live in accommodation. I
mean really, truly, it was probably like Upstairs Downstairs, you know what I
mean? Because everything was taking care of for you. It was very straight
forward, you know what I mean? I am trying to think, am, was it better than
Ireland? It was different because we were working. You know what I mean, you
had disposable income, whereas we hadn’t had that in Ireland. So possibly, I
imagine, conditions were better for sure. And especially at that stage, I don’t
think there was much going in Ireland at that stage. There really wasn’t, you
didn’t really have an option to stay.

Loretto: Why did you go back to Ireland then Anne in 1999?

Anne: Well, I went back because Mam was ill, very ill in the
September. The year before I went back I was home every month. Literally every
month I came home because Mam was ill. And she got very ill in the summer of
1999. And we were being given no information and then, so when I came home in
September, we arranged for her to see one of the top liver specialists in
Ireland and he told us, basically you’re looking at six weeks maximum. You know
at that stage I had been away for so long, you know what I mean, I wanted to be
here with Mam, so I, it wasn’t even literally a conscious thing you know? It
was just a, I went back home. I went back to London, went in to Peter, my boss,
and said I’m leaving. You know, I was gone I’d say within a week. And then, you
know what I mean like, I went back home in November, and Mam, she died at the
end of November. I felt Dad was in such a state like, he was in a wheelchair, K
(sister) had J (son) he was a baby. I just, you know what I mean? I wasn’t just
going to leave him here, you know what I mean, do you know that sort of a way?
So I didn’t even contemplate going back, do you know what I mean? It was just
that I was coming home and that was it.

Loretto: So there was no second thoughts at all, you packed
your backs and went home because your sister had a young baby and you were
going to take care of your dad.

Anne: Yeah, there was no question of it, do you know what I
mean like. I wasn’t going to not come home. It wasn’t even a conscious thing,
you know what I mean? I just did it like. It was going to happen. That was
that. That’s what I wanted to do.

Loretto: Would you ever consider going back or emigrating
again Anne?

Anne: I am seriously considering it at the moment because
things are so bad here and I reckon you would probably get a better job in
London. But I think at this stage, you have a mortgage her, you know what I
mean like, a car. In ways you do have a better, I don’t know, I think I am probably
more suited to city life than I am to small town in Ireland. Do you know what I
mean like? That aspect of it I would prefer, but I think at this stage I don’t
see me going back to London. No.

Loretto: No?

Anne: No, no. I don’t think so unless, you know what I mean,
I had, having said that, I have never gone back to the wages that I was on, all
those years ago in London, you know what I mean? But then you have checks and
balances, you know what I mean. Certain things are better, that sort of way. But
yeah, I don’t think I don’t know. Maybe if I cleared the mortgage here, that
sort of a way, but at the moment, you know what I mean, when you are not in the
position to do that. Do you know what I am saying? You can’t really walk away.
I can’t right at this precise moment in time.

Loretto: Do you ever second guess the decision to come home
in the first place, or are you glad you did?

Anne: Oh no, I do second guess it. I do absolutely because
like I say, I am really not suited to small town Ireland. I find a lot of it to
be very provincial to be quite honest. I say that to people and they really
don’t know what I mean by it, but you’d know what I mean by it. Because Ireland
can be very provincial. You know that sort of a way, and I do find that and
there isn’t, there aren’t a lot of people like, like you share my interests, do
you know what I mean like that sort of a way. Maybe J (brother) M (sister) but
there aren’t a lot of people you can have those conversations with, do you know
what I am saying? When you’re out for the evening you certainly couldn’t talk
about work or they’d look at you as if to say what are you talking about?

Loretto: So then, by provincial, you mean basically broad
minded about things, a global knowledge of what is going on?

Anne: yeah, and it isn’t all immediate things. People aren’t
aware. I was talking to a girl at work about the London riots and she said what
riots. You know what I mean, it’s much smaller, it’s more about their immediate
lives. Provincial in that sense, its small town mentality, I don’t know it’s
just something, some people are aware but the vast majority of people aren’t.

Loretto: The American saying is “thinking outside the box.”
Their box is their job their home life.

Anne: Their immediate, their home life, exactly. Yeah, you
know what I mean like? You just really don’t have those conversations. It
doesn’t effect them at all in that sense. Of course they are all aware of a
downturn, you couldn’t but be, the mood is effected. If they are aware of it,
they are just not interested in it.

Loretto: It does in that it is “news” but in the fact that
it effects them, it’s not hitting home.

Anne: yeah, as I always say, politics is what you put in
your mouth! You might as well be talking to the wall! I don’t want to be
getting into it with them because (laughs) it’s that “provincialness,” that
small minded, narrow. Not even small minded, because none of them are bigoted
or intolerant or anything, but it’s just a narrow focus and a much more limited
focus, and that just drives me crazy. But that’s just small town Ireland for
you. Probably small town anywhere, you know what I mean?

Loretto: What advice would you give to emigrants today?

Anne: I’d say it is the best thing you will ever do. Listen
to me, there was a big thing here, this man had a billboard and it was the
States and London and save me from emigration. He was looking for a job and it
was am, and he was sending off his CV and getting nowhere so he decided to do
this big advertising thing and he spent the last of his money on this huge
billboard. So I thought, what is he on about? The best thing you could ever do
is leave. I mean you don’t have to leave forever, nobody has to leave forever
and you always have the option to come back. But it is the best thing ever, you
left, I left. Anybody whoever left only gained from it, but to broaden your
mind, the only thing you could ever do, I’d say any advice I’d give is to get
there as quick as possible, settle in, get involved and open your mind because
you certainly will learn a heck of a lot from interacting with other people.
It’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. I had to laugh when I saw the
thing (billboard) I thought, what in the name of God are you scared of? I don’t
understand people who, to me I have never been a huge patriot as in “place” is
important. It never has been to me, I suppose that’s only because I am at home
again. Maybe for people who aren’t at home it is. But it has never been an
issue for me at all. I always think, well I can’t leave at this precise moment
in time anyway, but I had to laugh at the attitude. I thought, Is he crazy?
Even when we were leaving like it was going to be an adventure. There’s nothing
but benefits. I am a huge believer in broadening your horizon. It’s probably the
best thing that will ever happen to you. So I never understand this woe is me
thing, unless there is some issue, but otherwise I think get out there and see
the world. And I don’t mean backpack around the world, you know what I mean
like middle class gap year sort of crap, you need to get working and get
involved and get into a community. Even if you end up in an Irish enclave or
something like that you are all having a different experience than you would
ever have sitting here.

Loretto: The funny thing is Anne, when Miriam and I met up
with Veronica the first night, we had dinner. We met up with her in New York
for dinner and then the following week she came out here with Miriam for lunch,
it was brutally hot day! But you realized, even with emigration in the picture;
the three of us all emigrated, we are all living the same lives, except we are
just living them in different countries. You live in a house with four walls
and a roof, you have a job, you try to make a living, you try to pay your
mortgage, you raise your family; at the end of the day, the principles are all
the same, except we are doing it in different countries.

Anne: Exactly. To me, and it’s not that I am a hard person,
but I don’t believe in sentiment. This romanticization of, this romance of home
and blah blah blah gets me as always being false. So it is not reality. So
really and truly place for me has never been an issue at all. And as you say,
it doesn’t matter where you are doing it, everybody essentially ends up living
the same life.

Loretto: I’ll be honest and I think this is true of any
immigrant. You actually appreciate your country more when you go back for
visits.

Anne: Absolutely, maybe you appreciate it more, maybe there
is a sense of belonging, I don’t know, it’s never been an issue for me at all.
But maybe that’s because I’m home. But even when I was away, home was about
family and I have never been a huge patriot in that sense, apart from when we
are playing football or something like that, (laughs) but apart from that place
isn’t an issue. As far as emigration, I say go for it. I would encourage anyone
to do it. I don’t believe, you know what I mean, that you will ever be harmed
by the experience. Anything that broadens the mind is always going to  be a bonus.

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