When at 18 or 20, or in my case 24, you fly away on the adventure of a lifetime, you aren't thinking of your future self. When I first winged my way to Australia, I had no inkling where it would lead. Or all the losses it would lead to. For me. For my future husband. For our future children. For our families.
Swooping in over Sydney Harbour for the first time more than 20 years ago, I had an overwhelming sense of belonging. It is a feeling I have never since shaken. Australia has been very good to me. I love the sunshine and the hustle of Sydney. Career opportunities came my way. Work and travel happily mingled. I have found love and made great friends here.
Over the 20 years since I first landed in Australia, there have been many times that distance from 'home' and family have caused tiny fissures to form in my heart. It wasn't until I had children overseas and my mother fell terminally ill that those tiny cracks expanded into a ravine.
It is at times like this you realise no technology can bridge the gap of 13,000 miles. There are times when you just have to be there.
Through all the ups and downs and the many return visits to find my hometown has changed so much in my absence, if I could go back and somehow explain it all to my 24-year-old self, would I do anything different?
This is extracted from Anne's article which was the No 1 most-read piece in The Irish Times newspaper over the weekend of 26-27 August 2017. Read the full story here: I barely recognise my hometown
A stranger now
In a strange land
This street my feet had pattered
Through all the years that mattered
In between the ghosts
Of fallen heroes
The smoke of burnt out fires
Monuments to the ruins
Of dreams and desires
Past facades masking
All the laughing, skipping, dancing
Hauling, falling length of it
A street baptised in people’s lives
A little street
In a little town
At the wave-washed edge
Of the world