‘New Yorkers’ settle into new life and new school

STARTING school can be daunting, but for brother and sister Aoibheann and Liam Lordan it was especially so after moving to Letterkenny from New York.
The siblings and their parents, Sean and Annmarie, returned from the States three weeks ago and are settling into a different pace of life in Carrygawley.
Annmarie (nee Gallagher) is from Listillion and her husband Sean hails from West Cork. The couple met in an Irish bar in the New York borough of Queens 15 years ago. They married in 2012, and it was cause for a double celebration as Donegal became All-Ireland champions beating Mayo to bring Sam Maguire back to the county.
Aoibheann and Liam were both born in New York. Last week, Aoibheann (6) joined senior infants in Lurgybrack National School while Liam (4) started pre-school at The Model crèche.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Annmarie said her family were settling in well and readjusting to a new way of life.
“We’re settling in good, thankfully. We’ve been vaccinated and our transition home was straightforward. We loved living in New York but we always knew there would be a day when we would return home. With our children still being very young, we decided now was the time to do it as they are at an age they would adapt well.
“They are both settling in well at school. I think Aoibheann was a little nervous about whether the others in her class would understand the words and phrases she uses. She says words like garbage instead of bin, sidewalk instead of path and trunk instead of boot, but thankfully both are both settling in great.”
Annmarie attended Lurgybrack NS and grew up in Listillion, where her mother still lives. The couple built their home in Carrygawley, but owing to Covid-19 restrictions, they didn’t see the finished build until they returned home.
“The building of our home started in December 2019 just before the pandemic and was finished the following October. Luckily we had an excellent contractor who kept the work going and would send us photos of how it was progressing, but we’re in now and we have our basics set up.”
Having worked as a medical secretary in Letterkenny General Hospital, as it was known then, Annmarie moved to New York 18 years ago at the age of 21. She took up a number of waitressing and bartending jobs before securing a job with Deloitte, working for the world-wide company for 10 years. Sean works as an operating engineer. The couple had lived for the last few years in Long Beach. Having talked about returning home prior to the pandemic, Annmarie said her family is enjoying new freedoms.
“My husband is from a remote area of west Cork. He’s moved back to my neck of the woods and he loves it. We had been talking about coming home even before the pandemic, and we are already enjoying it so much. We are just a mile from the town. The freedom the two kids have now is brilliant. We can open the back door and they can run out and play, there is so much space. In New York we lived in a small apartment with a porch near the main road, so it was very different.
“We’re settling in great and the weather has been brilliant since we returned. It’s not like that in New York at the minute with extreme flooding in the last few days.”
Although she had regular trips home, Annmarie said she has noticed lots of changes in Letterkenny.
“I just cannot understand the traffic in Letterkenny on a Friday evening, but there is also a lovely buzz around the place.”
Annmarie said she will take a month or two to “find her feet” before applying for jobs.
“My husband will stay for a month and will then have to return to New York to work for a short time.”

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