Californian Erin McGathy flew to Ireland in 2015 to escape from the emotional trauma of her marriage breaking up.
She had been there before with her husband on her honeymoon and loved the place. She returned to see if it could offer her some solace from her troubles.
She spent three weeks working on an organic farm outside Dundalk and began to feel that her wounds were healing. A comedian and writer, she decided to extend her trip when she moved to Dublin and started to perform in the local clubs.
Something about the country attracted her and she decided she wanted to stay. She told the Irish Times: “I’ve lived in so many different places so I know what it’s like to feel more connected to one place than another. I immediately felt at home in this culture, where people seemed really mindful of each other.
“In LA, people value themselves differently and the metric that everyone compares themselves by is not how compassionate someone is but their success.”
McGathy has known tragedy in her life. Her mother died of cancer when she was only 11. The trauma drew her closer to her father and brother as they looked to each for support to help them cope.
It was at this time that she started to get involved in theatre and comedy at school, putting on shows with classmates. It was an outlet that enabled her to escape from the sadness engulfing her at home.
When she arrived in Ireland, she found that she related immediately to the Irish sense of humour, which was so different to what she was accustomed to in California.
“I think watching my mum die and moving around a lot gave me a very dry and dark sense of humour. In LA, people always said lighten up when I would joke about death but here that’s never been said to me. I feel like the Irish are the funniest people in the world.”
McGathy also found the Irish people to be very welcoming, which made it easier to fit in right from the start. “In Dublin, you can go out any night of the week and find something that’s going on or people hanging out. In LA, it’s a lot harder to find a community.”
But what about the Irish climate. “When the sun comes out in Ireland, you associate it with drinking outside, seeing your friends and going to the canal. But in LA it’s so consistently sunny that people mostly stay inside. I’m outside way more in Dublin than I ever would have been in LA.”
McGathy set up her own comedy theatre and school in Dublin where comedians meet and work together.
“Moving here is the thing I’m proudest of in my life; doing something that no one really understood but that I knew was right for me. I love Dublin for the people, for the emotional intelligence and the humanism I find in places that I believe were lacking from my life in LA. I feel like Dublin is my soul city and I can’t see myself living anywhere else.”
McGathy produced her own show Al Dawes F***ing Loves You for the Dublin Fringe Festival.
Have you moved to Ireland and loved it? Or did it not work out for you? Is it something you are considering? Please let us know. We’d love to hear about your experiences.