Galliagh girl, Ciara Doherty, left Derry for San Francisco when she was 21 years-old.
Ciara is returning to Derry with her two children Arya and Arlo for the first time in 10 years.
Q - When and why did you leave Derry and how long has it been since you were home? Where in Derry are you from?
Ciara - I left Derry in April 2006 to set out for a new life in San Francisco. I had an aunt and uncle who lived here and had been here quite a few times and as soon as I turned 21 I packed up and said goodbye to family members and made out for the long journey ahead. It has been almost 10 years since I have been home. I grew up in Galliagh, Elaghmore Park to be exact.
Q - What’s your favourite memory of Christmas in Derry?
Ciara - My favourite memory of Christmas in Derry would have to be seeing the children in the streets on Christmas morning with the new toys and gifts that Santa had brought them that year. Here in America you never see kids playing on the streets it’s one of the things I miss most. Also having close family and friends around and celebrating with them. The smell of the turkey and ham cooking around the house.
Q - How different is Christmas in San Francisco to Christmas in Derry?
Ciara - Christmas in San Francisco is a lot different in many ways. The sun always shines in San Francisco at least 90 per cent of the time and it never feels Christmassy because of that reason it never gets really cold. It hardly rains and also never snows, I guess you could say we are pretty spoiled in California but at Christmas time I get very homesick there is no place like home for holidays.
Q - Who will be coming home with you?
Ciara - I will be travelling to Derry this Christmas with my two kids Arya (2) and Arlo 1. Unfortunately, my husband who is American can’t make it with us due to work commitments (although I have a feeling he may surprise us). This will be Arya’s second time in Derry she was lucky enough to spend her second birthday there in March of this year and my husband visited with her at that time and it was the first time she got to meet most of her Irish family. Arlo has never been to Ireland and has yet to meet all his Irish family. My parents are both besides them selves with excitement and they can’t wait to introduce them to everyone.
Q - What are you looking forward to the most when you come?
Ciara - Apart from the food, I’m looking forward to seeing all my family and friends and meeting up with my friends and their children for the first time. Also, I’m looking forward to my mammy’s Christmas dinner and home cooking. I’m excited to see how Derry has changed over the years. Life goes by so fast out here I think everyone is still the same age as they were when I left.
Q - How will you spend Christmas in Derry and how long will you be here for?
Ciara - This Christmas we will be spending it with close family and enjoy every minute of it with the kids. We are in Derry for four weeks and we have lots planned, from Christmas to celebrating my birthday on New Year’s Day and also having my son Arlo christened at our local church. This Christmas we are leaving my brother Patrick behind in San Francisco so I’m sure most of the day we will be on FaceTime to him too.