A Derry mother has spoken of the impact of having four sons emigrate from Derry to take up opportunities abroad.
Edna Kelly, from Rosemount, said many families across the city were in a similar position, having to let their children go abroad to pursue opportunities they can’t find here.
Mrs. Kelly was speaking in the wake of new research conducted among young people which showed over 95 per cent planned to leave Derry for a better future, largely due to lack of opportunities at home.
Additional new research among Derry emigrants found that many young professionals living abroad would return home if there were more quality jobs and better prospects here.
Mrs. Kelly’s two eldest sons, 36-years-old Liam (Sammy) and 34-years-old Eamonn (Oscar), are among many Derry people currently living and working in Perth. The brothers have been away for around eight years.
Her other two sons, Daniel (30) and Anthony (27) have also spent years in Australia and while currently back at home, are planning to return in the near future.
Mrs. Kelly said she was thankful that her daughter Maria was still in Derry, but said it is now eight years since her whole family were together.
She said that, as a mother, she felt her four sons’ absence keenly during family celebrations and events back in Derry, or on hearing of their lives abroad.
“You feel isolated that you are their mammy and you are not there with them,” she said.
“It’s sad at times when you have a family get-together and they are not there. I’m sitting there like a lost sheep.
“Yes, it’s sad. You watch other people go away to visit their sons and it does be hard. At the start it was terrible.
“But I’m not the only one, there are many people out there the same and it’s getting more and more prominent.”
However, she said no-one wanted to hold their children back, particularly when better opportunities lay elsewhere.
“For a lot of young people, if you want to get a life for yourself, you have to move away.
“There are wains living from ‘bru day to bru day’ in Derry and you wouldn’t want to see that for your children.”
Mrs. Kelly said her sons have previously moved to Boston and Jersey in search of work as ‘there was nothing at all for them here in Derry.’
“One of my sons is a joiner and ended up in a call centre here,” she said. “He is out there now working in Australia and he said he is flat out with work now. My other son is doing really well out there too. They both play footballers as well.
“The lifestyle is much better for them and you can’t stand in their way. It’s completely different there and once they go, they see a different world.
“The oldest boy bought a house out there and I have a wee grandson, he’s one year old now. I’ve seen him once, when we went over for the Christening. They showed me a picture and he had teeth. I missed that and I can’t baby-sit. Even with Skype, it’s just not the same.”
Mrs. Kelly said that as a parent you worried about your children being away, but said that there were a lot of people in Perth from the north west.
“We were visiting and we visited a shopping centre and we met two boys coming down the escalator from Rosemount! There’s a lot of them out there and they do look after each other.”
She added that there needed to be more done to give young people a chance at home. “What I don’t understand here is even if you have qualifications, they are not letting you into a job without experience. Where can the wains go? It’s a vicious circle and there needs to be more done here to look at that.
“Big things always seem to happen in Belfast and I keep wondering when will big things come to Derry?”
For more on the local research see the following articles: