Home and away: The Christmas plans of Limerick people on foreign shores

We speak to Limerick people about their plans for Christmas - whether abroad or on home soil

Jess Casey, Donal O'Regan and Maria Flannery


Jess Casey, Donal O'Regan and Maria Flannery

Jack Anderson moved to Australia with wife Teresa and children Daniel, aged 10, and Katherine, 8, six months ago

Jack Anderson moved to Australia with wife Teresa and children Daniel, aged 10, and Katherine, 8, six months ago

Jack Anderson, Doon: Jack Anderson will be spending his first Christmas down under. The Professor of Sports Law at Melbourne Law School moved to Australia with wife Teresa and children Daniel, aged 10, and Katherine, 8, six months ago.

Jack says it will be a bit “surreal” with “tinsel and Christmas trees wilting in the 35 degree heat”. They won’t miss the cold but they will miss the warmth of family.

“Even Katherine's Elf on the Shelf wants the air conditioning on. At some stage on Christmas Day we'll try to get to one of the Melbourne city beaches. The kids have started surf lifesaving so they'll want to go,” he said.

They have been invited by a neighbouring Irish family, the Goughs, to dinner.

“They were great to us when we first arrived and were clueless on schools, renting and huntsman spiders.”

Skype will be used to talk to Teresa’s parents in Waterford - Tony and Pat - and Jack’s mum and dad in Doon - Margaret and Donal.

“Mum will ask ‘haven't ye enough of it now?’ Da will plan a visit. St Stephen's Day will probably be a bigger change in a way. At home, I usually watch the racing and end up in the village with my brothers and the usual suspects in Moore's or Whelan's or both (usually both).

"This year we are going to the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground] which is only 20 minutes away to see Australia v England in the Ashes. Daniel plays cricket with a local club. I have told him we'll go early so we can see a bit of the minor match!” jokes Jack, a big Doon and Limerick hurling fan.

Previously he taught at the University of Limerick, Australian National University, Canberra and Queen’s University in Belfast, and is the author of over 100 peer reviewed articles, international conference papers and other seminars on the topics of sports law.

Jack contributes regularly to the media in Australia, Britain and Ireland on sports law matters. He concludes by saying they will really miss being near to siblings, cousins, presents and proper spuds.

“We won't miss the cold in Ireland but we will miss the warmth of family, always,” said Jack.

Jennifer Purcell, Rosbrien: I live in London, I moved over in September after I finished up a summer graduate fellowship in Dublin so I’m still very new to London life!

My boyfriend lives in London so I’d be doing long distance for a few years. I always wanted to move abroad after I graduated so I was lucky to have that support starting out in London.

I’m currently working as the Marketing and Communications officer for the London Irish Centre. I’m coming home on December 20th - straight from work to the airport, into Dublin and meeting my boyfriend at the other end when he comes off the ferry. My family know I’m coming.

This is my first Christmas living abroad so there’s no doubt I’d be coming home for it! I don’t think I’d ever spend Christmas anywhere else than with my family in Limerick. It’s my favourite time of year, so I love everything about it.

It’s the first year all our siblings have been so spread out away from home so it will be extra special to spend some time with them all.

Maria McMillan (née Hogan), originally from Moyross: I live in Dumfries, southwest Scotland for just over 15 years now with my husband Mark.

We met in Dell in 1999, when he came across from Scotland to work there and we decided to move in 2002. I am a fully qualified Financial Adviser, working for a local firm.

I’m home on the 14th of December for a family wedding. My family know I am coming, but due to family commitments in Scotland, I will actually have to go back before Christmas.

My favourite thing about being back in Limerick for Christmas is spending time with family and catching up with old friends. On Christmas Eve, those family members who can, go out for a few drinks to Nancy’s, which has the finest pint of Guinness! We then head home for ham sandwiches.

It’s a tradition at ours. Wouldn’t change it for the world!

Michael Tynan, Ballybricken, (and Cindy Levannier, Caen, France, also lived in Limerick): We live in Caen in Normandy, France. I’ve been here for four months. My girlfriend is from the city and wanted to return to university.

It was cheaper for her to return to college in France, so here we are. I’m studying French here at the moment, because they speak French in France but I don’t. (very tongue in cheek).

I’m home on the 23rd. My parents know I’m coming home, but I’m not sure about the rest of my family. If not: hello family, read above.

I’ve lived in Limerick basically my whole life until now, when I think of Christmas it’s hard to think of anything else other than the lights on O’Connell street or laboriously lagging behind my mother or girlfriend in the Crescent doing Christmas shopping. For me, it’s not Christmas if it isn’t spent in Limerick.

Colm Fitzgerald, Meelick: I was born on O'Connell Avenue and lived in Mungret and Caherdavin before moving to Meelick where I lived the longest - my parents still live there.

I went to college at UL and worked in the city in various jobs, so I consider myself to be a real Limerickman at heart!

I've been living in London since October last year, so just over a year. I live with my partner, who is also from Limerick, in Queens Park, North West London, which is very close to the traditional Irish enclave of Kilburn, though there isn't a noticeably large number of Irish living up here any longer.

I work as a Marketing Executive for business membership organisation London First - I've had this job since April, having done a temporary admin job before that when I first arrived.

Professional prospects was the key reason for making the move, having studied New Media & English at UL and wanting a career in marketing/communications, the options at home were really limited.

Quite a number of my friends from home and UL had made the move here too, so it was encouraging that they were all getting on so well that my partner and I made the move.

A lifestyle change was the other reason, and I have a quality of life here I could only really dream of at home - mostly because in my case hard work is very generously remunerated and there's no shortage of things to do in London!

I'm arriving into Shannon on the afternoon of the 23rd and will stay for just under a week - the family do know and are very excited. The flights were very expensive but I guess it's the one big downside of living abroad.

It's very cliche I know, but seeing Shannon on the departure screen in Heathrow and getting on a very green aircraft makes me feel very at home.

I'm really looking forward to the peace and quiet and clean air at home - one thing that there isin't much of here.

That will involve going for a walk in Cratloe Woods and along the river too. It's also nice to see how things are developing in the city and what's changed since last time.

I've been home a few times this year so I don't feel completely out of the loop - the flight being so short and being able to land into Shannon is an absolute godsend.

LIZ BURKE, CASTLETROY: Rugby player Liz is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand.

She moved to Auckland last September to play professionally.

“I plan on taking a few days break from training this Christmas! Christmas Eve will be a beach day with friends."

"Christmas day will be a barbecue at our house with the six Irish girls I am here with, and the newly added English and Kiwi contingents."

"Then it’s straight to Sydney for New Years to meet our friends who live there and a few more who are travelling over to celebrate the New Year.”

“We have hidden each other’s Christmas packages we received from home, so we have something to open on Christmas morning."

"Everything else will be completely against tradition, and we are really looking forward to that.”

“I will really miss the annual Stephen’s Day Munster match with the U.L. Bohs girls and the messy catch ups in the Gower with people home for the holidays.”

“Christmas Eve and Christmas morning without my Mom, family, cousins, nephews and niece will be the hardest.”