Living Leeside: ‘Cork is my second home but Hungary is my first’

Living Leeside: ‘Cork is my second home but Hungary is my first’
Zsigmond Safrany, with his wife Tímea Safranye Hajdu and their children Gergo and Zsigmond , with their cousin Eamonn Carberry (right) in BallincolligPicture: Eddie O'Hare

SECURITY worker Zsigmond Safrany has spent 13 years in Cork with his wife Tímea, after moving here to raise a family and to afford a better life.

Originally from Hungary, Zsigmond has two children, born in Ireland, Gergô, 9, and Zsigmond, 11 and the family lives in Ballincollig.

The 40-year-old had been working at Wetherspoons for the past four years before the coronavirus pandemic hit, closing all pubs for an indefinite period of time.

“I was working in Wetherspoons in the city centre. I liked the work and I was used to the place,” he said.

Until recently, Zsigmond worked five to six nights a week behind the bar and on the door.

“I am waiting for the bar to open again. It is hard for everyone,” he said.

The barman and bouncer said that since the closure, he has enjoyed spending more time with his family.

“Most afternoons I take the children walking,” he said.

While Zsigmond and his family are getting out and about, the Hungarian said he is being very cautious in relation to the coronavirus.

“I try to keep my distance from other people. I don’t go to Ballincollig Park any more — it is too busy these days, Zsigmond said.

“ I like to jog as well. I used to do races but I find I don’t have the time as much now. I am too busy, but I would jog around 8km regularly.

Zsigmond Safrany, in BallincolligPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Zsigmond Safrany, in BallincolligPicture: Eddie O'Hare

“I am more into swimming now; there is less chance of injury.”

Zsigmond completed a swim instructor course earlier in the year but said he doesn’t know if he will use it professionally.

“I spent so much time at the pool anyway. It’s a big hobby of mine,” he said. “I go maybe two to three times a week. I would be there all the time if I worked there, and end up hating it!

“I miss the pool since they all shut. I have been doing a lot of walking instead,” he said.

The change in routine has been a big blow to the whole family, although Zsigmond said his sons Gergô and Zsigmond are doing well.

“They are finding the isolation a challenge, but they are very good; they don’t sit down and watch loads of TV — they do activities,” he said.

“Gergô loves comic books and writing and video games.”

“Zsigmond likes collecting retro technology like old TVs, VHS, and old consoles such as PlayStations, etc. He wants to set up his own DVD and VHS rental store.”

Looking back at why he moved to Cork 13 years ago, Zsigmond said he came in search of a better life.

“I was living in Hungary and I was married but I had no children,” he said. “I was working but I had financial difficulties.

I came to Cork for a better life. I came over first and then my wife followed three months later. There were lots of possibilities and opportunities here and my children will have lots of opportunities. They will have a better life in Ireland. They are getting a good education here.”

Despite this, Zsigmond said Cork is not perfect. “The cost of living is quite high; the rent is crazy here. Back in Hungary, in the country, you would get a place for 10 times less.”

A family favourite pastime is visiting the scenic sights of Cork.

“The boys love to go to Cobh and watch the ships come in, then we get some ice cream,” he said.

“Sometimes we visit the beach in Fountainstown or Whitegate.”

Zsigmond Safrany, with his wife Tímea Safranye Hajdu and their children Gergo and Zsigmond , with their cousin Eamonn Carberry (right) in BallincolligPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Zsigmond Safrany, with his wife Tímea Safranye Hajdu and their children Gergo and Zsigmond , with their cousin Eamonn Carberry (right) in BallincolligPicture: Eddie O'Hare

One of Zsigmond’s fondest memories of Cork is completing the Cork City Marathon in 2014. “It was great but tough. I had only trained to 25km so to do 42km on the day was amazing. I was a bit afraid, but I got through it. For a week after, my legs were cramping. I had no major injuries, but my toenail fell off.”

Zsigmond said he likes Cork people but at times finds them a little reserved. “All people are different, but Cork people seem to be very genuine and reserved. I like to talk about myself and I find people don’t really do the same here.”

Although enjoying life in Cork, he misses Hungary. “Life is different there and I have a huge family there, My father had seven children, but I have family here too — my sister lives in Carrigaline,” he said.

“The vegetables are better back in Hungary but the milk, meat, and potatoes are better here.”

He gets home once a year for a few weeks and in time hopes to return. “Cork is my second home, but Hungary is my first. I am very settled here in Cork, as are my kids. They love it here, they have been here their whole lives, but I think I will return to Hungary when I get old... in 40-50 years.”

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