'I miss Penneys and mom's dinners': What it's like for a Corkonian to be abroad in the pandemic

Amy Nolan speaks to Cork people living abroad on what life has been like for them during the pandemic, what they miss most about home and their plans to visit now that restrictions on international travel have eased
'I miss Penneys and mom's dinners': What it's like for a Corkonian to be abroad in the pandemic

Cailin O'Regan.

“I THINK it’s safe to say that the pandemic has really made me miss home, miss the people, miss the humour, and made me realise that I definitely don’t want to stay where I am right now longterm.”

So said Cailin O’Regan, originally from Ovens, but who has lived in Vancouver for almost three years.

With a love for travel, Cailin (25) emigrated to Canada in 2018, to explore new horizons and to gain more experience in an industry she loves.

“I love travel and ever since I was a kid I always imagined living outside of Ireland, mainly because I love acting and growing up there wasn’t a big acting industry in Ireland, so for the longest time I thought I’d have to live outside Ireland anyway.

“I guess as I got older the film industry did grow but my desire to travel was still there.

“I wanted to go somewhere that I could see opportunity in acting but also somewhere that was new and brought me out of my comfort zone.”

Cailin, who also works in retail, was last home in January of 2020 — just a few months before Covid broke out in Ireland.

“I remember I was in the car with my mum and we were driving back from Kerry to Cork and on the radio there was something about an Irish person living abroad.

“He was living in China and his wife had gone home because she was concerned about the virus situation, but he said he was going to stick it out and just wait until it died down and I remember turning to my mum and going ‘isn’t that crazy how it’s just taken over China?’.

“Fast forward two months and I’m in full lockdown [in Canada], out of work, sitting in my living room not being able to do much other than go for walks or to the grocery store.”

Cailin has kept in touch with family and friends at home via WhatsApp calls and voice notes and through Instagram but says the pandemic has definitely made her a lot more homesick.

With incredible experiences under her belt during her time abroad, Cailin plans to return home later this month.

And there’s one special person she is looking forward to meeting once back in Ovens.

Cailin O'Regan.
Cailin O'Regan.

“One of my brothers had a baby since I’ve been gone who’s now like one and a half and he’s just a little squish, he’s so cute.

“I can’t wait to see him and to just hug my family. I’m just so excited to have that family time and to see my friends.

“Also a solid trip to Penneys shall be had once I’m home,” she laughed.

“I have missed Penneys so much and just high street retailers in general.

“Out here in Vancouver it’s very much boutique and high end retailers.

“It’s crazy expensive to shop out here.

“I just miss going into Penneys and buying a pair of pyjamas for like €10, or a hair clip for like €1.50 — it’s just not something you’d get over here at all.

“It’s quite an expensive city.”

A trip to KC’s in Douglas is also going to be one of her first port of calls.

“I miss KC’s — I haven’t had good chips in so long!

“They’re not big on the chippers here — it’s just not as good.”

“I just miss Irish food in general.

“It’s a big Asian influence out here so there are great Sushi places here and things like that, but you just miss more of a variety in good cuisine.

“I just feel like there’s better restaurants at home and better nightlife.

“Mom also makes an amazing chicken roast dinner so I’m so looking forward to that!”

Aside from family and friends, Cailin has missed being around Cork people in general.

“I miss the friendly smiles you see on the streets in Ireland… and just that kindness of things like offering a stranger a cup of tea — which I know is cliché, but it’s so true!

“The kindness and the genuineness that you get from home it’s just not the same in that way and you definitely miss it.

“It’s something that is so irreplaceable,” she said.

These things combined, in particular, missing her loved ones in Cork, have influenced Cailin’s decision to move home.

“Family is number one for me and that’s what I always think about where I want to live long term.”

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