//Reasons immigrants remain in Limerick for Christmas

Reasons immigrants remain in Limerick for Christmas

 Reasons immigrants remain in Limerick for Christmas

To many, Christmas means a time to return home – birth places. For some immigrants, however, they are increasingly choosing to stay in their new adopted home of Limerick. The reasons for their reluctance to travel home for Christmas include their love for the community life along the River Shannon. 
Christmas is almost in the rear-view and the European City of Sport 2011 is looking like a wonderland, but this is just one of the reasons that attract non-Irish nationals to stay back for merriment.
The people of Limerick City embrace the newly decorated streets, well in 
time for Christmas.
Photo by Lylian Fotabong

   Some non-natives consider Limerick to be the “Holy Grail” of Ireland where people are kind and welcoming, especially at Christmas.

   Maurice Kikangala arrived in Ireland from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has been living and studying in Limerick for over 12 years.
  He said: “I stay in Limerick for Christmas because I cannot return to my home country. I ran away because of my political inclinations and if I return, I will be putting my life in danger.
   “Although I have no choice, I have loved Limerick and built a great friendship with the people from the moment I arrived. Christmas in Limerick is a reminder of how peaceful and safe it is to live in the world.”
   Another non-Irish national living and working in Limerick is Integration Policy Officer for Doras Luimni, Dr Matt Cannon from New York. He is married to an Irish national with whom they have three children.
   Mr Cannon said his family travelled to the USA for Christmas in the past, “but as my family grew, it became more expensive to make the trip back and forth to the States, and the longer I lived in Limerick, the more frequent I stayed.”
  He said that Christmas in Limerick allows his family to “catch up” with some of his wife’s relatives who live in the West of Ireland. He hopes that his mother and brother will join him for Christmas next year.
   He recalled his first and most memorable Irish Christmases as one filled with heavy snowstorm and widespread electric power cuts.
   “I joined a friend and her family for Christmas dinner in Limerick and volunteered to serve food in a home for older people – it really was an interesting and rewarding experience.”
   Former Liaison Officer for New Communities Partnership (NCP), Jacques Lobe, is from Cameroon and has lived in Limerick for about eight years.
   He said, although he would prefer to join family in his riverside home in Cameroon, he is staying in Limerick for Christmas because he lacks money.
   “But it is a blessing in disguise because Ireland is home now and so is Limerick, with its glittery lights and the vibrant community life along the River Shannon.

The quiet and beauty of River Shannon help to attract more 
and more immigrants in Limerick.
Photo by Lylian Fotabong

   “I use the period to enjoy, not only the high-spirited celebration of the Nativity, but also to share a few pints with friends. After all, we are all Irish in the making, isn’t!” Mr Lobe said.

   Immigrants, newcomers and natives will see Limerick in its full glory this Christmas. The City and County are dazzling with lights, shopping centres, free festive events, traditional foods and craft markets.
   Over the last decade, Limerick has welcomed a strong flow of immigrants to its shore. In 2012, there were 16,112 non-native residents, according to Integrating Limerick, a report published by the Limerick City and County Councils on the Integration Plan 2010 – 2012.
   This represents migrant workers from EU and Non-EU zones, international students, asylum seekers, refugees and persons with Leave to Remain in Ireland. Some of these immigrants have a burning desire to remain in Limerick for Christmas.
   Others, however, have no choice. Many have separated from their loved ones under painful circumstances and cannot return home, even at Christmas or other festive occasions.