VENEZUELAN software engineer Alfredo Haddad came to Ireland seeking a better life, and said he found what he was looking for in Cork.
Alfredo, who is from Caracas, said his three sisters and his mother have also left their home country, due to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
Although Alfredo has been in Ireland for the past seven years, the 35-year-old only came to Cork during the pandemic, when he began to work from home.
“My girlfriend Tracy is from Cork and just before the second lockdown happened, we decided it was best to move down to Cork, as all her family and most of her friends are here. Also, because of my line of work, working from home was possible.”
Describing what he likes about the Rebel County, Alfredo said he liked the diverse landscape.
“Cliffs and beaches, busy city and quiet countryside, it has everything, and also everything is very close.”
Making the move from Dublin during the pandemic with his girlfriend of three years, the pair also took a leap of faith and signed up to foster an Irish Guide Dog puppy while the young dog is being trained up by the organisation.
“We were thinking about getting a dog, but I have never had a dog and I didn’t know what to expect! So we thought about fostering.”
Alfredo said the new family, himself, Tracy, and Apollo the puppy, are getting on great.
“It’s a very rewarding experience, it will be tough giving him up, but we know he will be going to someone who really needs him.”
A multi-talented man, Alfredo has a number of hobbies that he dabbles in from time to time.
“I’m a very active person, so I really like spending time working out, playing sports (tennis, soccer), playing drums, and surfing.”
Alfredo used to play tennis at a national level when he was younger, but gave it up to focus on his college studies. Since moving to Cork, he has picked up the sport again and is a member of the Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, where he said he has been welcomed into the community with open arms.
When Alfredo left Venezuela and came to Ireland, he bought himself an electric drum kit, something he wanted to try for many years.
“I always loved the drums, but never had the opportunity to take them up in Venezuela. When I got to Ireland, once I had started working and earning a living, I got myself a kit, and I love it!”
Alfredo was in a band in Dublin and the group was rehearsing a lot together, but once the pandemic hit, that all stopped.
But Covid has definitely had a silver lining for Alfredo in his move to Cork, which also saw him take up surfing.
“I surfed just once before, in Barbados, and after the lockdowns, I just wanted to hit the coast, so I bought a surfboard and started to surf.”
The software engineer said the cold doesn’t bother him. “With the wetsuit I can last three to four hours in the sea at a time. It’s not so bad.”
Alfredo said he is still mastering the art of surfing.
“I’m not too bad — I’m definitely getting there, but it’s not as easy as it looks!”
Over the past year, Alfredo said one of his best memories in Cork was visiting Three Castle Head in West Cork.
“There is a bottomless lake, no-one has ever been to the bottom of it, a castle and cliffs, it is peaceful and beautiful, I really enjoyed the visit.”
The Venezuelan said he does not miss his home country, but definitely misses his family and friends, who no longer live there.
“The home I once knew doesn’t exist anymore. Home is where family and friends are, and sadly, because of Venezuela’s political/economic situation, none of them live there anymore.”
Looking ahead, Alfredo said he hopes he and Tracy get to travel a little more before deciding to settle down.
“I would definitely love to travel more and possibly live in other places, but at the end of the day, when you want to settle down, Cork will be my first option.”