“What I thought was only going to be a few months without seeing my family and friends turned into almost two years.”
Cork’s wife Emily O’Mahony (27) said, reflecting on expatriate life during the pandemic.
Emily, originally from Rochestown, moved to Vancouver in 2018 in search of adventure and to advance her career prospects as an actress.
“I moved to Vancouver in the hope of having more acting opportunities. Vancouver is nicknamed “Hollywood North” because so many movies and TV shows are shot there.
“The first day we got here I remember walking downtown and seeing this huge setting – it was so cool, but I quickly learned that it was quite a sight. running here. I think part of the reason I wanted to move was to challenge myself too.
“I had never moved from my home before moving to a country and you certainly learn and grow a lot.”
Emily, who also works as a visual merchandiser at a retail store in Vancouver, has not set foot on Irish soil since 2019 with planned home visits as well as trips from loved ones to Canada scuttled by the pandemic.
“I was home for the last time on Christmas 2019 – right before the world was completely turned upside down.
“Friends and family had bought tickets to come see me in the coming months, but of course those plans, unfortunately, fell through.”
Fast forward to Christmas 2020 and Emily had just recovered from Covid-19 on her own.
Unable to return home to be with family and friends for the festivities, Emily and her partner Paul decided to make the most of a quieter Christmas together. Restrictions permitting, the couple traveled to Salt Spring Island, just off mainland British Columbia.
“We spent Christmas in a little Airbnb cabin on Salt Spring Island.
“Paul went swimming on Christmas Day, which my dad does at home every year.
“I virtually joined the Christmas dinner table in Cork which was lovely and we all opened our presents in front of the camera.
“Of course, it was hard not to be there in person, but we made it as festive as possible.”
With restrictions on international travel now relaxed, Emily looks forward to a long-awaited visit to Cork at the end of this month.
And while life in Canada has many positive aspects, there are some home comforts that have not lost their appeal.
“I can’t wait to go to Mutton Lane or The Oval or somewhere like that and sit on a little stool having a drink and a bag of Tayto!”
“I feel like things are more franchised and made here – I miss the unique businesses in Cork.
“I also want to go to a sandy Irish beach and have a home cooked dinner prepared by my mom.
“I think being away for so long made me miss things that I had never even considered before, like Irish tap water – you can’t beat it!”
But it is especially his fellow leesiders that he misses the most.
“Zoom is awesome and WhatsApp calls are awesome, but they just aren’t the same. Can’t wait to hug my friends and family and get the bejesus out of it!
“I miss the people of Cork in general too – it’s just those little interactions you have with people, like ending up talking to someone for ages at a bus stop about their cousin’s daughter. aunt – you don’t understand that here. It’s always nice to meet someone in Vancouver who is from Cork. It’s nice to have this connection with the house.
“I think Ireland is never too far away wherever you are.”