Ego the Jackal: Young Derry emigrants speak of new life in Canada

Connor and Dearbhla Mc Gowan pictured in Canada.
Connor and Dearbhla Mc Gowan pictured in Canada.
  • Connor McGowan was already well known as a musician at home
  • He performs under the name Ego the Jackal
  • He and Dearbhla made the move to North America last September
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A young Derry couple are having the time of their lives, living andworking in Edmonton, Canada as their first St Patrick’s abroad approaches.

Connor and Dearbhla Mc Gowan made the brave move in September of last year, and it has proved to have been a risk well worth taking. Both are well known and popular among Derry’s music scene. Connor who performs as ‘Ego the Jackal’ is a singer song

writer, whose music gets aired locally, particularly by Stephen Mc Cauley of Radio Foyle- Derry’s ‘John Peel’.

Many people, particularly the young, choose to emigrate for various reasons. Historically, unemployment and lack of career opportunities have been the primary causes, and this phenomena has sharply risen over the course of the last several years. However for Dearbhla and Connor it was about much more, as both were employed prior to leaving Derry. Along with his gigging and recording, Connor worked in the IT Department of Altnagelvin Hospital and Dearbhla worked for a credit management company.

For them it was about the excitement of new experience, of moving to a far off place, meeting new people and being part of a different culture and of course, as Connor put it ‘seeing new sights’. Connor explained that since their marriage two years earlier, he had occasionally brought up the idea of moving away but Dearbhla had been a little reluctant. Then out of the blue one day Dearbhla suggested they move to Canada.

Although they had done their research on Canada and contacted friends, Craig and Rachel Mc Kean, who made the same move a year earlier, both were still a little anxious.

Connor  Mc Gowan who performs under the name Ego the Jackal.

Connor Mc Gowan who performs under the name Ego the Jackal.

Dearbhla said: “We were obviously worried about whether or not we would like the place that we would be calling ‘Home’ for the next two +years. We were worried about leaving friends and family for so long etc. We agreed though, that had we let those apprehensions stop us

from making the move, we would always be asking ourselves, ‘What if’ and, ‘Why didn’t we’ - which would be a lot harder to live with in the long term.”

It didn’t take them long to settle in thanks to Rachel and Craig’s help and support. Dearbhla and Connor are currently living in a down town apartment in Edmonton. Dearbhla is working for an investment advisory firm while also doing a ‘Canadian Securities’ course, which

if qualified she’d become a ‘licensed investment associate’.

As much as I love it out here, I miss Derry very much. Its the best place in the world in my eyes. I miss the people, the craic and the Derry wit. Obviously me ma’s cooking as well.”-Connor McGowan

Aside from gigging, Connor is working full-time in a music school as a guitar and song writing instructor, just north of the city.

He said: “I am really enjoying playing live shows here in Canada. Audiences are very receptive and interested in original music. I have also been lucky enough to land some airplay on national radio stations here.”

Both Connor and Dearbhla are thoroughly enjoying living in Canada.They feel the lifestyle they have there is great. Two months ago they travelled to Jasper in the Rocky Mountains for a skiing holiday, which they thought was fantastic.

Connor said: “We have visited frozen lakes, barbecued in parks and met some great people here so far. They’re not Derry people, but nice all the same.”

The young couple are not so certain yet about their longer term plans. Their visas are for two years, so they are legally allowed to stay and work in Canada until September 2016.

Dearbhla said: “We can explore the avenue of permanent residency after we have been here for one full year, but we haven’t thought that far ahead yet.”

While they’re warmly embracing their new life style, both of them naturally miss Derry a lot and their friends and families.

Connor said: “As much as I love it out here, I miss Derry very much. Its the best place in the world in my eyes. I miss the people, the craic and the Derry wit. Obviously me ma’s cooking as well.”

Dearbhla said: “I miss friends and family back home very much. There are times we can get a little homesick, but we always just remind ourselves that this is not forever, and make the most of this great experience.”