I have been trying to write this entry for a week.
Every time it becomes all too much. I have too much to explain. I have kept so much from you. This is the resolution to TWO YEARS of waiting and hoping but mainly two years of trying not to hope.
I will start at the beginning.
My Mother grew up with an Irish grandmother. She was the Rose for whom I am named.
My Mother, wise in so many ways, did not get the Irish passport to which she was entitled until years later, 2009, years after her children were (mostly) grown. This small little slip precluded my darling sisters and I from getting Irish passports.
Since the mid 1990s my family have been involved in the local Irish Society. I consider the members to be my extended family. I feel connected to my heritage through the club.
In 2007 before we left the country they presented me with two charms – a shamrock and a St Christopher medallion – for luck and safe travels. Thinking about that still makes me a little soft-eyed. They are lovely people. They are a second family.
Ireland is a wonderful place.
In a spectactularly Irish move, they allow people to petition to become naturalised Irish citizens through “Irish by Association”. You make your case that you are Irish enough to be a citizen and, if they like you enough (I’m guessing – I don’t know the criteria) then you can become a naturalised citizen.
My darling Mother started this process for all three daughters early in 2009.
Copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates, letters explaining why we wanted to become Irish citizens, explaining the bonds we felt to our Irish heritage, three Irish citizens approved each of our applications. So many papers, each in triplicate – one for each daughter – sent away to Tipperary.
In June 2009 we heard that our applications had been received and placed in the queue. The average processing time was 24 months.
24 torturous months.
I knew it was only the slightest chance that we would be approved. It was our last ditch effort. We lived in the mindset that we would be New Zealand citizens and New Zealand citizens only for the rest of our lives.
24 months is a long time to come to terms with something.
Craig and I made other plans. To stay in New Zealand, perhaps, to move to Australia, perhaps, to move to Canada, perhaps. Always including the little phrase “but maybe, just maybe, if the Irish thing comes through we can …”
Last Friday my Mother was acting squirrelly. Insisting more than usual that she should pick me up from the station.
Of course, I was oblivious, and spoiled all her plans. Instead she broke the news thus:
I was floored. I had spent so long preparing myself for the letter saying that I had been declined that the approval caught me off guard. It took the better part of a week for my to wrap my head around the idea. The implications. Changing the plans I had worked SO hard to be okay with.
Ireland is part of the EEA. Citizens of countries in the EEA have the right to live and work in the UK as they please*.
Becoming an Irish citizen means a formalisation of the ties to my heritage but it also means that Craig and I can move back to London if we so choose.
Did you catch that? I know this is long and detailed and, admittedly, rather boring, so let me say it again:
Craig and I can move back to London
Now we just have to decide if we want to (and I’m pretty sure we do). But there are so many things to take into consideration.
Our jobs, family, money, the olympics (yes, seriously). The fear I have that I will no longer be in love with the city.
At the moment we are testing out the idea that we will move to London sometime early next year. We will begin living like paupers and saving every spare cent. Turning this pebble idea around and around in our minds to see if we like it**.
But mainly, lastly, most importantly, I am proud to be an (almost) Irish citizen.
* I’m pretty certain. Only so long as you’re not a drain on the state.
** I think we do.