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November 03 , 2010

Learning to Love Ireland: An Immigrant’s Tale


In 2007 Althea and her husband Larry left Zimbabwe, a country where the skies are cornflower blue, where the sun shines most of the time and where every longed-for thunderstorm brings welcome rain.

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They left behind a successful business, a beautiful home, their friends and their animals. They also left behind chaos, misery, starvation, hopelessness and a dictator who has no concern for the welfare of his people.

They have come to live in Ireland, where the sky is often leaden grey and the rain relentless. But Ireland is a country blessed by the presence of The Celtic Tiger – a haven of peace, prosperity and security.

Within months, however, the threatened recession evolves swiftly into an awful reality as crisis succeeds crisis. The job market plummets: it becomes evident that Ireland will suffer more than most countries.

The author chronicles, with sensitivity and humour, the confusion, frustration, and homesickness she experiences as she tries to find her feet and a job in an alien, first-world country – and to recover her sense of identity. It’s only when she identifies her emotional rollercoaster as “culture shock”, a normal – indeed “remarkably predictable” – phenomenon that she is able to cope better with her challenges.

Learning to Love Ireland will be especially appreciated by those who have had to confront the trauma of immigration and integration. And for the rest of us, it’s a moving and stimulating read!

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