WHEN we first came to Ireland, we fell in love with this beautiful island and (despite the weather!), it was like love at first sight.
Ireland caught us with its beautiful scenery, the friendliness of the Irish people, and their approach to life.
It has been a long journey for us since we made a decision to come here to live and work 13 years ago.
We have settled down in the picturesque town of Cobh. We love this town and we’ve put our roots down here for good.
We are both lucky as we both have jobs that we love. We know how important it is to like what you do for a living. We have been working with fantastic people.
We have learned how Irish people are kind and helpful, with an amazing approach to life and a great sense of humour. We have made many new friends, whom we know we can always count on.
I have noticed that Irish and Poles have a lot in common. The stories of our nations are very similar. Both Irish and Poles have shown many times that they can fight for their independence, freedom, culture, and tradition.
Both nations can find enough strength to resist their oppressors. The Irish had to fight the Vikings and the English. Poles, on the other hand, struggled with Germany, Russians, Swedes, and Turks.
Both nations lost their independence, Ireland to Great Britain, Poland to Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia.
Our nations have lost millions of citizens.
In Poland, a lot of people died because of wars, while in Ireland a million citizens died during the Great Famine, which caused mass deaths from starvation. Many also died during the battles with the English.
The Irish emigrated — like Poles — mainly to England and the United States.
Lots of Poles have also emigrated over a long period of time to America, Germany, and other countries.
Ireland is extremely popular in Poland. There are even songs sung about it, such as Kocham Cie jak Irlandie by the Kobranocka band — I love you like Ireland.
Ireland is so close to our hearts and it has been our home for so many years, and even though it’s not a legal requirement to hold Irish Citizenship to live and work here as, we live in the EU, it was such an obvious move for us, when we decided to apply for Irish citizenship.
The naturalization process is not complicated, but we had to submit a lot of documents that were later verified.
The Minister for Justice and Equality has absolute discretion as to whether or not to grant naturalization.
They consider a range of information available to them in order to make a decision on an application for naturalization. The rules are very strict and we had to meet certain conditions.
The applicants must be of good character. Any criminal record is taken into consideration in deciding whether or not to grant naturalization.
You must have lived in Ireland for a certain length of time. Altogether, you must have five years’ recognisable residence out of the previous nine years.
You must also intend to continue to live in Ireland after naturalization, and make a declaration of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and also to undertake to observe the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values.
Usually, the entire process takes around six months. However, due to the very large volume of applications, we had to wait for a year and a half.
We only received our invitations to the ceremony three weeks ago.
And so, finally, the long-awaited day had come! Me and my husband Dariusz, together with my family, went on a trip to Killarney.
The ceremony took place on December 9 at the Gleneagle INEC in Killarney, and it was beautiful and touching.
It was led by the Minister of State David Stanton and retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon.
Almost 2,000 people became new Irish citizens that day. The largest group of new citizens were from Poland and the UK.
People from more than 100 different countries stood together and swore an oath of fidelity to the Irish nation, pledging loyalty to the State and respect for its democratic values.
As the Minister of State David Stanton said, the ceremony is “a major event in your life”.
Judge Bryan McMahon congratulated us all. He urged us to tell our children and grandchildren about our countries and to not forget them, and to look to see what gifts of art, music, sport or literature we could bring to our new home.
We love Ireland and we feel at home here... It is an honour for us to be now called Irish citizens.
This is an amazing feeling, which is so difficult to describe in words.
We are now beginning a new journey, a new chapter in our lives...