THERE were emotional scenes at Brisbane airport this week when two Limerick parents were reunited with all four children after being separated for over a decade.
After 12 years of feeling “torn apart” by the affects of emigration, Janet and Eugene Bennis, from Granville Park in the city, have now made their dream move to live in Australia for the rest of their lives – but said it was not without agonising over whether they were making the right move.
The couple, who are in their mid-50s, have now reached Brisbane, and are settling in nicely -– even though the heat in February has come as a bit of a shock. Janet joked that their only regret so far is the amount of clothing they have packed.
“We should have just come with the clothes on our backs. I’d say we will never put on a jumper or a pair of jeans again!”
They wished to thank everyone from their support and words of encouragement over the last few months in particular. “I had struggled so many times, and often wanted to give up when it got so hard,” said Janet. “But everyone pushed me to make this dream a reality and we are about to start living our dream.”
Janet said they haven’t done anything in particular since they arrived except “getting lots of hugs and cuddles off the babies and our own kids. “It’s wonderful. I know it will take a while to settle, I cried a couple of times thinking of the huge thing we have done and it scares me even now.”
The couple sold their house, which thankfully was not in negative equity, and will have to hand over Aus$86,000 (around €57,000) for their visas, to be paid over two years.
“We will never have a mortgage again, and that financial release is unbelievable. It is very, very exciting, but it’s also a very emotional time, and it’s tough to leave your home and life of 32 years. It’s a scary move when you’re in your fifties. But it has to work; there is no coming back from this,” she told the Limerick Leader prior to her departure.
The new owner of their home allowed them to stay there for the month of January, and an extra week after that as they prepared to leave.
The couple previously entered the Supermac’s & Ryan Tubridy Bring Them Home’ competition to be reunited with their four children, and four grand-children last Christmas, but it was not to be. “We’re getting older and you feel it [the loneliness] as the years go on. When the kids were here it was like living in a railway station or an airport, there were so many of their friends about.
Janet, who worked in the Allegro cafe in the University of Limerick, said she found it very hard to go home to an empty house after work. “It really was like a grieving process. You’d get up in the morning and do what you have to do but you’re just waiting for the Skype calls.
She said they lived every night and morning for their calls, and were so lonesome that it tore at their “hearts constantly.”
Her husband, Eugene, 59, had not worked since the closure of Dell some years ago, but hopes to return to work again, while Janet worked in the Allegro cafe for the past two and a half years .
Living in Brisbane is their daughter Jennifer, 30, who is now married with two young daughters, Saoirse, age four and Teegan, age two; son Eoin, 29, who is engaged and has a two-year old daughter Isabelle, and Alexia, who is less than a year old; daughter Claire, 26, and son Cian, 24.
Two of their children are married to two siblings, and between them they have bought a home in Brisbane that the parents can also move into.
After hearing their story on the Marian Finucane show, Ace Removals offered the cover the costs of their move to Australia.
The couple’s journey is due to be featured in an upcoming TV3 documentary about emigration.
In recent months, the couple created their own bucket list’ of places they want to see around Ireland, in case they never return as the costs are so prohibitive.
But she said they didn’t want to a firm goodbye to anyone. “We just said ‘see you later’.”