The reality of returning to Ireland after five years in Dubai: ‘What on earth have I done?’

Erin McCafferty longed to come home during a five-year stint in Dubai. But the reality was not what she expected.

There have been many times in the last year and a half when I’ve thought to myself, what on earth have I done?

Times when I’ve looked at my pay cheque in disbelief at the amount left after tax; times when I’ve been shocked at the cost of parking in the city; times when I’ve walked the streets of Dublin and noted its rundown buildings, its peeling hoardings, and the dregs of the River Liffey at low tide.

I’ve had the heart torn out of me by the sight of two heroin addicts on a mattress on the street, their arms wrapped around each other like lovers.

I’ve turned on the radio, to hear of another family home being possessed, another CEO garnering a ridiculously high salary at the cost of the taxpayer, or another person bemoaning the state of the nation.

I’ve stood on the street in winter with the freezing rain coming down in sheets, and felt like crying, not just with the cold, but with the knowledge that this is now the norm.

‘Ireland of the welcomes’, ‘The Emerald Isle’, ‘Ireland – come for a holiday and stay for a lifetime’ – where were you when I needed you, after five years of living abroad?

It’s a reaction others that will no doubt have if the Irish Government succeeds in its latest plan to bring 100,000 emigrants home over the next two years. Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for the Diaspora, announced last May that the Government was trying to encourage people to come home in the first Global Irish Civic Forum, in Dublin.

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