Another year in Ireland

Recently published figures revealed that almost one and a half million Polish people have left their homeland and gone west looking for a better life since the last census was taken. Official figures show that 200,000 of those people came to Ireland (that’s the estimate anyway). It is believed that approximately 18 percent of these people wish to stay in Ireland for the rest of their lives. Half want to stay as long as possible and just one third of them definitely want to return home to live some day. Those are the statistics, but how does that work for Polish people in Roscommon? Whenever I meet another new immigrant, the question is always asked ‘how long do you want to stay here?’ You know, I don’t have a green idea how long I want to stay here and that’s why I’m always curious about other people’s plans. Usually, the answers are the same ‘the end of May/April/January/winter’. Seldom I hear the answer ‘definitely for the rest of my life’. It just drifts on like that and people who declared their intention to go a long time ago, they are still feeding the ducks in the park.  Very often, I think that we have become part of this town. During the Christmas party season in Roscommon, I don’t think there was a party in town without some Polish person in attendance. We are really brave going every week for English classes, going to Polish Mass every Sunday. We are just living here normally, or actually more and more normal. One of my friends even recently raised the problem of there being no Polish school in Roscommon. This shows me that we stopped thinking and speaking all the time about work. We have started thinking about what we can do in our leisure time, just like normal people. Very slowly, we start to organise our home and social lives. Probably this is the reason why it is really hard to decide to go back. A lot of Polish people stayed in Ireland for Christmas. We had a few problems with preparing the traditional Polish meals (the shop with Polish food is gone.) Anyway, you could feel the Christmas atmosphere and also at new year we missed the loud fireworks, but we could always turn on the TV and watch the new year celebrations in Krakow. This new year in Ireland I want to wish everybody (myself included) that the time we spend in Roscommon will bring us a lot of happiness and that the sentence ‘thanks I’m fine’ will start to mean something!