Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lonely in Ireland - What Ex-Pats Rarely Discuss

When expatriates get together to discuss their moves abroad - or when people ask me questions regarding a move to Ireland - those subsequent conversations usually stick to facts: how do I move there? How to I get a job? What should I bring?

What is often unstated, and unasked, is the emotional impact of moving to a country and culture far away from your own. Recently, on, I saw the following cry for help:

"I have lived in Portlaoise for the last year and am wondering if there are any other expats around. I am from California and would like to know if there are other US citizens or people from other countries interested in chatting about life in Ireland. There is an expat group that meets monthly in Dublin, but the timing and distance makes it hard to get to the meet-ups...maybe if there are a few people interested we can start up some sort of group for the midlands. I've been really homesick lately and would like to hear from anyone else who is nervously facing down another Irish winter. "

Living abroad combines a sense of adventure with a sense of being a 'fish out of water'. Being an expatriate for any length of time is a roller-coaster of emotion: moving from the 'highs' of experiencing the excitement and joy of a completely different culture and adapting to it, to the 'lows' of sadness and even despair, because you may be far away from friends, family, loved ones and a culture and nation that you love.

And anyway, you can't get Bisquick over here. And suddenly, that becomes a huge problem! Or at least it seems like it... When that happens, the world seems grey and grim indeed. Colours aren't as bright, and the journey of moving to a new country can seem not only daunting, but soul destroying.

What to Do?
So what do you do when those 'lows' get too low? And it's important to recognise that you're low, and to take appropriate action: Lows can - and do - lead to depression. Over the years, I've experienced this darkness of despair, and know other expats who have felt the same way.

For what it's worth - and I'm no psychologist - here's what I've done in the past and present when Homesickness gets a little too much:

1. Go Home for a Visit - when I first moved here in '82, I didn't return to the United States for four whole years. I didn't go back for one simple reason: I was broke and couldn't afford it. And I missed my 'home' sorely. Back then, airfares were horrendously high. But now, things are different.

If you really miss home, and the world seems grey, for God's sake go back for a few days or a few weeks. A whole range of airlines now operate out of Ireland bound for the United States and North America: Aer Lingus, Continental, Delta, Air Canada... You can fly into Boston, Atlanta, Chicago... and from there, anywhere in the US. And prices are relatively cheap! So if you miss home, Go! Right now, not later! Go walk the streets where you lived. Go hug friends and family. Go to assure yourself that nothing has really changed back there, and that if it becomes truly hard, you really can change your mind and go home. You have that right! And I've found that by knowing I have a choice, living here is also my choice, and a choice that I make every day.

2. Talk About It - do you have a local friend or spouse that's empathetic to your needs and wants? If so, share your feelings of occasional loneliness and isolation with them. Find someone 'safe', and be truly honest with them. Tell them what you like about Ireland. But also tell them what you don't like, or are frustrated with. Being allowed the privilege of 'venting' truly helps.

3. Emerge Yourself in the Culture - a number of years ago, I met a Canadian who had moved here...and was miserable. He constantly complained about the country, and how much he missed home.

But was it any wonder? Turns out, as I got to know him more, that he never gave himself a chance. He never tried to make Irish friends. He never got out from his Dublin home to see the rest of the country and what it has to offer. He hung around only with other North Americans. In fact, I felt that he was living in a 'bubble'. So...what I always suggest is this: make some Irish friends! Get out into the culture of Ireland! Join some local clubs; volunteer for local organisations. Try your best to see the beauty that surrounds us here (when it's not raining, of course): the history and the hills, the fragrant colours of Ireland's hills and fields; the majesty of its mountains and cliffs. And critically, and a most welcome fact: the warmth of the people here.

Emigrating to any country is hard work, and can be emotionally quite stressful. A move of this type catalyses a roller-coaster of emotions. To survive - and emotionally prosper - in a new country, you need to devise a coping and support structure. You need to open your heart, and mind, and soul to what surrounds you. You need to recognise that you won't feel like a fish out of water forever. That as the days pass, you'll feel more and more comfortable in your new home. But that you will also suffer from the occasional day of greyness and seeming solitude when 'home' back wherever you come from looks so much better.

Hang in, is all I can say. Ireland is worth the effort.

For more information and stories about surviving Ireland, why not consider buying Tom's book, A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland? Simply click on that link.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Moving to Ireland

Don't Pack the Ark Until You Know What to Bring

Well, what'cha know. It seems that I'm getting some followers. Which means, of course, that it's only nice to reply! First, an apology: it's been over a week since my last post. Things at this end have been frantic for one reason for another. And bound to keep up that pace for a bit. So if I'm a bit short on advice, or not as quick to respond as I'd like to, forgive me...

But onward.

First, a question from Nick who asks: I do have a general question...I'm in my last year of law school in California, any insight on American lawyers finding jobs in Ireland? Anyway, thanks for the blog and keep up the good work.

Tom says: Ummmm...short answer to your short question is: unlikely. But that's just because I'm not a lawyer (I do know a couple of lawyer jokes, but that's not going to help at all!), and so don't have a handle on what's truly required. In my ignorance of all things 'law related' I'd suggest that you simply Google "lawyer/jobs/ireland' and see what happens. I just did it, and a whole lot of links came up. Mind you, I have no idea what they really mean!

Do remember, however, that a whole lot of US companies have offices and service centres in this country. (Go to for a list of ALL 'foreign' countries based in Ireland). I suspect that each of those US companies employs somebody or other regarding their corporate legal affairs, and the interplay between the US and Irish corporate bodies. Anyway, you might start there. My first 'real' job here was with a division of Hyster, the fork lift company. I weasled my way into their marketing department. If I can do it so can you.

Now onto James's question. James (who became an Irish citizen through ancestry) is married to an American gal, and they plan on moving back to Ireland soon. He asks a question:

"My question is this... what sort of advice would you offer someone like me, as far as what to bring, what not to bring, etc. We will be renting a furnished place, so we are planning on packing very minimally. I have been informed that my wife shouldn't have any issues working since she is married to an Irish citizen. Do you know any info on this? I know we have to provide proof etc to get her a visa, but any addtl info would be helpful, as well as any other tidbits of info you might find useful. Thank you in advance for your help!"

My Answer: only bring along what is absolutely necessary. But DO make sure to bring:

* US Passport/US Birth Certificate

* PROOF from your Automobile Insurance company that you have driven at LEAST five years without an accident. Get that note on their letterhead, signed! You'll need it to get a 'No Claims Discount' from a car insurance company over here. By doing so, you can save up to 70 % on premiums. So don't forget it.

* Bring anything that's run on batteries, or via 'recharge' and that you want to use here. Laptops, cell phones, etc can be powered up using the 240 watts that we use over here via their charger (that charger should be able to convert from 240 to 110/120 - but look on the Charger! It should tell you!)

* If you bring said charger, but plug converters (see previous blog). They should be available at the airport. You can get them here but I think it'll cost less there.

* Bring CLOTHES, especially your good wife. Fashion here is DIFFERENT. It's European! She might not like it (but will hopefully get used to it). And clothing is - in general - less expensive in the US.


Anything powered directly by 110 volt. So ditch, store, or give away: your hifi/radio/ boombox /iron/wild hand held mix master that you got for your wedding. Don't bring them because they won't work here UNLESS you buy a Transformer. And you don't want to do that. They are BEAST heavy, expensive, and horrible. I tried it: when I moved here, I brought along what then was a brand new Marantz Hi Fi component system. I LOVED the bloody thing. Then I went out and spent a fortune on a transformer that I couldn't afford.

The result? The Marantz was blown within a year, and I had to buy a new system - at extortionate prices. I should have given the thing to my sister then living in California. If I'd left it behind, she'd probably still be using it.

Hope that this helps, fellows! Onward!

For more advice on living in Ireland, you might consider a purchase of Tom Richards' book, A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Just click on that link!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Getting a Job in Ireland

Greetings all! This is by all accounts the most popular Post on this blog. Since its inception, it has received over 26,000 page views. But PLEASE NOTE that it was written in June 2009. Since that time, I have written many other Posts on this Blog focusing on Getting a Job in Ireland. Be sure to check out the Navigation Bar on the Right Hand Side of Or simply click on the following for the latest news in this area:

Getting a Job and Living in Ireland: the Trump Effect (November 2016) includes the rules for acquiring a work permit for living and working in Ireland

Irish Construction Sector Ready for Take-Off (April 2016)

Getting a Job in Ireland 2016: It's Gonna be a Cracker of a Year (January 2016)

Getting a Job in Ireland - MORE! (December 2013)

My thanks.   Tom

And here is the original 2009 Post:

Re-wind to 1982: a wet-behind-the-ears Yank climbs off a flight, Irish wife and new born daughter in tow. His first impressions are positive: 'Hey, it's raining, but it sure is pretty. This shouldn't be too hard,' he thinks to himself.
'I have a degree! I'm an American. I have skills and experience! Surely, I can find a job pretty quick...'
Then a torrent of rain smacked him in the face, as if God was telling the poor slob that nothing in Ireland is ever easy. And, folks, God was right.
Getting a job back in the '80s was hard. I was out of work for six months. Mind you, the Ireland of the early '80s was in recession. Unemployment was high - almost 20 percent as I remember. Long queues of people stood miserably outside the local dole office (unemployment office, for those of you with a US persuasion) waiting for their unemployment cheques. The world of Irish unemployment was bleak indeed, and the last thing it needed was an unemployed Yank to add to its troubles.
But...and here's the good part...six months after I got off the plane I had a job (okay, it offered subsistence level pay, but what the heck. It was work!) Two years later, I had a better job (working for Hyster, the forklift company, on a new government backed project that they started here. I was still paid miserably - just slightly better - but it was a start on the Irish corporate ladder! Unfortunately, a few years later, they suddenly pulled the plug. I - as well as many others - were once again unemployed). And following that, I actually sucked it in and started my own business! Twenty seven years later, I'm still working for myself. And I never thought that I had it in me. Honest.
So. What do you do if, like me, you're a somewhat wet-behind-the-ears American who is determined to live - and work - in Ireland. Here are some suggestions.

The Requirements
If you're not an Irish national or EU citizen, qualifying to get a job in Ireland can be tricky. You need to have a skill that is not (technically) found in the country. You need to have a Work Permit and a Visa. It's a technical area. Click here for more information on Irish Work Permits. It's a whole area fraught with difficulties and new legislation (including a new Green Card scheme), but the bottom line is this: you need to have a prospective employer offer you a job before you can get a job. The Employer must help you to organise your Permit. That company also has the responsibility of paying the fee for that Permit. So aren't you the lucky one? First you have to have a skill that is in high demand in this country. Then you have to find an employer who loves you enough to fork out good money for a work permit. But that's the way it's done here, so start looking!

The Internet and Page Advertising
Ireland has many fine job-related Internet sites. Google 'finding a job in Ireland', and you'll invariably pull up some good ones. Do please sort of ignore, however. This is a training and job support organisation for Irish (and EU) citizens. If you're not, you don't qualify.
Some of the good sites include Irish, My, and However, there are many more, so spend some time and do your research.
But don't forget about the major national newspapers (many of whom have online editions - just Google them!) That list includes The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Irish edition of the London Sunday Times, The Examiner, The Sunday Post, and The Herald, to name a few.

If you're not getting anywhere on the Internet or in the papers, and assuming that - like me - you've come over on a wing and a prayer with the hopes of getting employment, then try this: Network!
Ireland is a nation of talkers. People here like helping others (assuming, that is, that you're a likable sort). Therefore, when you meet someone new, don't be shy. Tell them what you're trying to do. That you're looking for a job in your chosen field. Ask them to help. Ask them who they know that might know someone who might know somebody else that has a job opening. Take their name and phone number (and make sure you buy a mobile phone - a Cell Phone - to make certain they can contact you!) Give it a few days and ring them back. Gently pester them with your enthusiasm and professionalism.
Given enough time, you too could land that Irish job. Just look at me! When I came here I didn't know a soul. But I networked (and I must admit that I was never any good at it). One guy new another guy who knew a fellow, that knew an Uncle, who knew his first cousin. And that fellow knew about a small company in County Meath that needed the inexperience and brash enthusiasm of this newly-arrive Yank.
Remember, Ireland is populated by only 4 million souls or so. In some ways, it's a village. And for that reason, everyone knows someone else. So keep networking!

Start Your Own Business
I'm not going to run through how to write a business plan, or what constitutes a great business idea, or how to get finance for a start up. That's up to you, the would-be Irish entrepreneur. But what I will say is this:
Ireland is a country of shopkeepers and business people. Like their US cousins, Irish people love to own and manage their own businesses, and the country's economy is driven by small and mid-sized enterprises.
So if you want a challenge, now's your chance! Back in the '80s, I never ever thought that I'd own my own small business. Yet here I am.

Just Remember, We're in Recession
Yep, just like every other place in the world, Ireland is in recession. What's more, and based on what I've been reading, it seems that the recession here will be longer and deeper than elsewhere. That said, take heart! People here are still buying things; the economy is still turning over. To beat this, you just have to be dogged, persevere, and keep focused on your goal. If you want employment hard enough, you'll get it. Just keep trying!
For more information on how to Get a Job in Ireland, you might want to purchase my E-Book:
A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 Kindle Edition Now Available!
If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Building a Business Nest in Ireland

So. You've decided to come over. You're going to ride into the sunset and leave your present job. And you're intent on setting up a business in Ireland.

To do so, of course, you're going to need someplace to work out of. And if that's the case, be aware that you'll have a whole lot to choose from. Over the past 10 years or so, Ireland has seen a huge construction boom in commercial property, and that boom has affected the entire country.

Want a retail space in Cork? Looking for a serviced office facility in County Meath? Maybe you'd like to buy a complete office block. It's all here, ready and waiting. Good quality stuff, too. And the current recession has knocked thousands of euro off of prices, both purchase and leased.

And don't expect you'll be short changed if you decide to go this way. Ireland's commercial property sector meets stringent build standards. Often, buildings are now wired for bear with complete Cat 5 Cabling for Internet access. Many come with pro-active energy conservation elements allowing owners and lessors to save money on electricity and heating bills, while lowering the CO2 footprint at the same time.

If you're looking for a place to call home for your new business enterprise, Ireland has a lot going for it.

For more information, go to and try the Meath Property website.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How Do I Get Irish Citizenship?

As you can imagine, a number of social networks are devoted to international travel and moving abroad. One of these websites, which I belong to, is Recently, within the Forum on Ireland, a fellow threw out a general question:

Hi, I am new to this site, and I am looking to get some information on moving to Ireland. Some of the information I would like to get is, what are the requirement to get citizenship, (web sites, E - mail addresses ect.) Information on and how to on finding a job there, how to transport my motorcycle to Ireland, What I need and how to get a driver's license, information on the different areas of Ireland, (what places are good to move to.) Basicly I'm looking for the whole nine yards on this. I am looking to spend a year in the United States, then leave and move to Ireland. Any will help, thank you very much!!!

He (or she) has asked a whole lot of questions, many of which I've been asked before (mind you, the question regarding the motorcycle is a little out there!) While I'll answer this expectant person's questions at length in another write, here's how I answered, and I hope it may be of interest to others thinking of moving to Ireland:

"Hi, My name is Tom - originally from Chicago, but living in Ireland for the past 27 years. First, for more information that might help you, you might want to visit my blog: You've a number of Qs: too many to answer in this space, so I'll answer most of them in the blog. However, to answer your first question: Gaining citizenship in Ireland for non-EU nationals is difficult. If you are the son or daughter of an Irish citizen, or the grandson or grand-daughter of same, you have the legal right to citizenship. Go to Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs for more information. If, however, you do not have such Irish ancestry, it may prove difficult. You could, of course, do what I did: marry an Irish lass! Citizenship can then be organised after a few years of residency here. I'll answer at length on my blog, above. Good luck! Tom"

I'm often amazed at questions of this type. The 'feeling' that I get from such Qs fill me with a certain level of concern for such folks: I get the feeling that many people think that getting Irish citizenship is easy. It is not! Unless you have Irish ancestry (as described above), getting citizenship can be a complicated and difficult process. This is due to a number of factors including a desire by the Irish government to protect jobs for indigenous Irish: fairly recently, new legislation was enacted that attempted to stem the tide of immigration.

The economic tide has turned now, of course. Unemployment is hovering at 10 percent, and is likely to go much higher before Christmas 2009. For that reason, it is likely to become even more difficult to become a citizen of the Irish Republic.

But take heart! In a next edition, I'll explain how you can use existing laws and opportunities to live in this land of constant rain. And now...I think I'll put on my hat and take a Ireland's rain swept summer!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living in Dublin Ireland - Such a Choice!

A couple of days ago, I received the following post:

Hello Tom. I have just had the pleasure of reading your book 'A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland' and also your updated online edition. My wife and I found your insight to be extremely helpful as we plan our big move to Ireland from Orlando, Florida at the end of December. What areas within commuting distance to Dublin would you suggest for a family with two small children (ages 3 years and 6 months)? All the best,

Mike Walton

Mike, and to answer your question, fortunately you and your family have any number of options. In the 1980s, when I first came to these green shores, such options frankly didn't exist. The area surrounding Dublin was, yes, composed of suburbs, but access to Dublin could be time consuming due to the relatively poor infrastructure (roads and the like), and the choice of housing for either purchase or rent/lease was limited. Depending on how long you think you're going to stay here, schools and/or nurseries are also going to be a consideration.

But the situation has drastically changed since those early days of my immigration: now we have such a choice! And due to the current economy, housing prices (both rental and purchase) have descended dramatically.

Infrastructure and the Economy
The wealth generated during the Celtic Tiger Years, as well as grants and loans from the EU, positively affected both Ireland's infrastructure and its choice of housing stock. It was simple economics: as the country's economy grew, the wealth of its people increased. As disposable income, savings, and anticipated future wealth grew, demand for housing - and the types of houses for sale - also grew. Additionally, the government as well as private companies and private/public companies, began to develop the road network. When I came here, 4 lane motorways were unheard of. Today, Ireland is criss-crossed by an ever-growing network of Motorways.

The M50 (a 4 lane motorway circling Dublin), the M1 (providing an artery to the North), the M3 (currently under construction, but an artery from Dublin, north to my town of Navan, and eventually to Kells and beyond), the M7 (toward Limerick), and the M8 to Cork represent billion euro investments that have improved the lives of Irish motorists to no end.

In the process, these arteries have opened up many Dublin 'suburbs'. It's simple location theory: make it easier and quicker to get to a place, and watch the houses (and house prices) sprout like mushrooms. And along with the houses will come the rest of the infrastructure: improved telephone services, broadband, more schools, shopping centres and malls, restaurants - and traffic! We have much more traffic today (due to increases in car ownership) than we ever had.

While the current economy will invariably stifle new infrastructure development for a number of years, it surely is one hell of a lot better than it used to be only 20 years ago.

A Choice of Neighbourhoods
See the Google Pic above, but good value in quality homes and apartments - either purchased, leased, or rented - exist North, West, and South of Dublin. All you have to do is figure out what's important to you, what needs must be met, what kind of lifestyle you and your family want, and how much you want to pay (for a complete list of homes and other properties currently on the market, go to I am NOT an owner nor hold any interest in this website! So they owe me one...)

Do you want to live a life by the sea? Then to the South look at Bray or Greystones. Both are wonderful, smaller towns, only a few miles from Dublin (a friend of mine lives in Bray, and the M50 now makes it easier to get there). Both have fabulous seashores. To the North (just north of Swords on the map), try Skerries. That's a marvellous village: a small fishing town, boats nestle quietly at dock as you stroll along a seaside walk. The village itself is picturesque: a single main street, a few shops, pubs, and coffee bars, and wonderfully small estates of housing surrounding the entire village.

If you go further north, (north of Balbriggan - Baile Brigin), try Bettystown. Also along the coast, it's a wonderful small town.

Looking for something in the hills? Then again go south to County Wicklow. While much more expensive than other places, it offers exceptional housing, close communities, and wonderful walks through the hills.

Some of the places mentioned above are a bit 'remote' meaning that a shopping centre might be perhaps a half hour to an hour away. But all of these places offer the necessities: shops, schools, petrol stations, churches, pubs. And a welcoming people.

Okay, so suppose you would rather live in a larger town not too far away from Dublin, with closer access not only to the city but to local shopping centres and similar. Again, the choice is rather amazing, and depends on what you want.

Personally, and for my money, I'd look at County Cavan, and Virginia in particular. Again, it's a bit isolated - about 20 miles north of Navan (An Mhi on the map), and perhaps 35 miles from Blanchardstown Shopping Centre (Google Blanchardstown Shopping Centre - this has all the major shops), but this smaller town offers exceptional value for money, a lake, and much more. Bigger again? Then why not consider Navan? Good schools, easy access to Dublin, a shopping centre, the Boyne River, and a zillion pubs (or so it seems). Or perhaps Trim, about 8 miles down the road. This is a delightful town: the River Boyne meanders by Trim Castle (action scenes from Braveheart were filmed there a number of years ago); it has wonderful walks, good shopping, and a great choice of housing. Besides, a good friend of mine comes from there, so I'm biased.

Just north of Dublin is Lucan; again, a much larger, somewhat sprawling town that has seen exceptional growth. Or how about Maynooth, the home to National University of Maynooth? I'm once again biased because I lecture there. It's a wonderful little place: easy access to Dublin, lots of good housing and schools, leafy main streets, wonderful scholastic architecture, and a great Italian restaurant (I tried their ravioli only last week. Real Italian! The owners are from Rome!)

Go directly west from Dublin and you'll have all sorts of choices: Naas, Kill, Newbridge...the list goes on and on. Be a bit careful if you choose to go out this way. Some of the communities have been over-built, meaning empty housing, apartments and office blocks. Tallaght now has this problem, and it will take years to get back to something approaching supply/demand equilibrium.

I hope the above helps. The question you've asked makes me realise just how far this country has come in only a few short years. And it also makes me realise this: yes, right now the economy of this country is on its knees. But so it was in 1994. Then, this amazing miracle happened. I'm convinced that given the resilience of the Irish people, and with a little realistic political leadership, this miracle will recur.

(And Mike, thanks for the compliment about A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Honest, folks. I didn't pay him a penny! Click on the link for more information.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Remembering Northern Ireland's Contribution to D-Day

I finally made it back to Ireland. To get home I flew Orlando, Boston, Shannon, Dublin - 19 hours from curb to curb. Depending on where you're living, there are better ways of getting here. All I know is that a row boat probably would have been quicker.

The next few days are going to be frantic as I try to get my head around the piles of paperwork that lean like toppling mountains on my desk. However, tomorrow is a special day in some ways: June 6th and the 65th Anniversary of D-Day. Some of you may be aware that the Republic of Ireland and especially Northern Ireland had a roll to play in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Today, I'd like to briefly honour the memory of the many who may have sacrificed all that we can live in freedom.
(Pictured above: Harland & Wolf shipyard, April 1940, having been bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Belfast Blitz)

Ireland and The Emergency

The Republic of Ireland's role in WWII was limited. Then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Eamonn De Valera held an isolationist view of global politics, and besides, the country's 'arch enemy' England could not be supported due to Ireland history of British colonisation. For that reason, and within Ireland, the War in Europe was not called WWII, but rather 'The Emergency', a title which even today's Irish historians often find a bit quaint.

Due to this stance, many Allied countries to this day view De Valera with a mixture of suspicion and anger. After all, and when he discovered that Hitler had commited suicide, he ordered a representative of the Irish government to immediately march to the German Embassy located in Dublin, there to sign the book of condolensces. Ireland was one of the few countries to do so.

That said, and despite its policy of neutrality in WWII, as well as the Irish people's sometime support of German ambitions, the Republic of Ireland often turned a blind eye to Allied activity, or actually facilitated Allied activities, that helped to turn the tide of the War.

While I don't have space to write a treatise, some examples of this include:

  • POW Treatment - German, British and American bomber pilots occasionally fell into the hands of the Irish. These POWs were often interred in Irish camps. Mysteriously, many of the American and British captives somehow managed to escape back to their Flights. On the other hand, German captives were held throughout the war.

  • Weather Reports - weather reports from the West Coast of Ireland made their way into Allied hands, a critical part of the planning for Operation Overlord (D-Day). Irish weather reports, indicating bad weather, helped Allied commanders to actually delay the D-Day landing by a day. Had Ireland not made these reports available to the Allies, D-Day might not have been as successful as it was.

  • Assistance to Northern Ireland - during the early days of 'The Emergency', Northern Ireland's capital city Belfast was bombed by the Germans in what was the 2nd worst aerial blitz on Allied soil in WWII. While it is often forgotten, this Blitz (occuring in April 1940) destroyed 50 percent of Belfast's housing stock in a massive conflagration. Despite its neutral stance, The Republic responded with fire tenders to help quench these flames of destruction. For its efforts, and when the Germans learned of this so-called treachery, Ireland was repaid by German Luftwaffe bombardments of Dublin City.

Northern Ireland - a Field of War
But if The Republic rendered some assistance to the War Effort, the people of Northern Ireland contributed mighty, and often heroic, resources to the defeat of Nazi Germany:

  • Pre-1941 - in the early days of WWII, bomber groups stationed in Northern Ireland including B24s (lent to Britain by the US) and Sunderland Bombers kept the North Atlantic sea lanes open through their sorties against German U-Boats. Their efforts allowed tonnes of materials to make their way to England. Had it not been for this effort, and had the supply lanes been cut, England possibly would not have survived until America's entrance into the War on Dec 7 1941.

  • January 1942 and the Staging Post - on January 24th 1942, only weeks following Pearl Harbor, a massive flotilla of US soldiers and materials landed in Northern Ireland. Here, those people - with the assistance of the Northern Irish - geared up to position that Northern province as a critical staging post for the defeat of Nazi Germany. What is interesting is this: despite America's neutrality prior to Pearl Harbor, it is obvious that this was a pre-planned activity, and undoubtedly agreed between Roosevelt and Churchill prior to America's official entrance into WWII.

  • Northern Ireland, the Allied Aerodrome - Northern Ireland quickly became a critically important supply and training location that fed the European Theatre of War with vital men and materials. Aircraft from the United States, including B17 and B24 bombers, P47 and P38 Lightning fighters, and similar equipment was flown or transported into the North. There, the aircraft were prepared for European operations. American, British, and Canadian pilots were trained in Northern Ireland. Aircraft manufacturing and ship repair facilities located in Belfast and Derry (Londonderry) helped to supply much needed materials to Allied efforts.

    The men and materials transported into the North, and then on into England, helped to assist the US 8th Army Airforce in its daylight bombing efforts against Nazi-occupied Europe. This massive assistance in all probability helped to shorten the war. What is also interesting - and poignant - is the fact that accidents did occur. Today, you can find the graves of American fliers buried in the Province.

  • Belfast Harbor as a Staging Post for D-Day - meanwhile, thousands of American military (including Army and Navy personnel and materials) eventually assembled and trained in Northern Ireland. Belfast became a sort of immense Irish USO as they brought an American view to the country: Americans were everywhere in Northern Ireland, and invariably they handed out items that could not be found in the Province. Silk stockings, cigarettes, booze, and chocolates were particularly popular. I've had the privilege of meeting Northern Irish War Brides who married American soldiers. Bob Hope played to American and Northern Irish audiences, as did Glen Miller. For a number of years, love blossomed to the sounds of American Swing. Then, in 1944, a massive fleet began to assemble in Belfast Harbor. Troops were called from their training posts, ordered to board the many vessels that swamped the local waters. General Dwight D Eisenhower visited in mid-June of that year, wishing his troops luck. And a fleet destined for eventual victory sailed from those waters, bound for a remote French coastline, and many would never return.

Churchill, never a fan of Northern Ireland, stated categorically that if it had not been for the sacrifice of the people of Northern Ireland, the war would not have been ended as quickly. Today, no monument stands in Belfast to remember the thousands who died in the 1940 Belfast Blitz. Few remember that the German Battleship Bismark was spotted by an aircraft flown from Northern Ireland that led to its eventual sinking. Few remember that if it were not for Northern Ireland and its efforts to keep open the North Atlantic, Britain might have been defeated by Nazi Germany.

Few remember the courageous contribution that Northern Ireland and her people made to the War Effort. And few discuss the critical roll that Northern Ireland played in the implementation of D-Day, Operation Overlord.

On this 65th Anniversary of D-Day, I hope to remind us all of that sacrifice. And to those who are still alive, or who are the proud off-spring of those who participated so courageously, I would like to state my humble thanks for helping us in the fight for freedom.

Tom Richards
June 6th, 2009.