Meet three people who left their home country behind to marry the love of their life

Arlene Harris talks to three people who were prepared to move overseas in order to ensure they spent their lives together.

Meet three people who left their home country behind to marry the love of their life

Caroline Sweeney Di Domenico

Caroline, aged 35, is originally from Saleen in East Cork. She met her husband Raphael, 38, in 2006 while backpacking around south-east Asia and, after a whirlwind romance, both went their separate ways.

But, determined to be together, Rapha followed Caroline to Ireland and, after a brief spell living in Cork City, the couple upped sticks and moved to his native Brazil, where they are now the proud parents of two little boys, Luka, 5, and Diego, 1.

“I met Rapha in Laos — we were both crazy about each other from our first kiss,” says Caroline.

“We spent several romantic weeks in a tiny hut in Thailand before parting ways as I had to return to college and he had a ticket to India.

"But even though we had only been together a short time, we were very much in love and miserable without each other, so Rapha cut his trip short and we moved into a tiny flat in Sunday’s Well in Cork.”

The couple got married in 2009 and went to Brazil for a few years where their eldest son was born.

They returned to Ireland in 2014 as Caroline wanted to train as a doula, but not long after their second son was born, they made the decision to move back to Brazil as Rapha was missing the sunshine and relaxed way of life.

“I love Ireland and have a very close family,” says Caroline.

“However from a financial point of view it made more sense for us to be in Brazil because in Ireland, we seemed to be just working to pay bills and had nothing left over.

“Plus Rapha really missed the sun, the beach, and the Brazilian lifestyle. It was hard to leave my home and family but I had to think of what was best for us.”

Caroline, who now works as a GentleBirth instructor, says while she misses Ireland, she’s enjoying life in Brazil and taking life as it comes.

“I miss my family and friends, my dad bringing Diego out for a walk in the afternoons, my mum popping in for a coffee and chat, and my kids growing up with their grandparents, uncles, auntie, and cousins around,” she says.

“I also miss how safe it is in rural Ireland and the beautiful countryside. But I don’t miss the dreary, wet winter weather and being stuck indoors all those cold, rainy days.

“I don’t know what the future holds for us in the long term but it would make me sad to think I would never live on Irish soil again.

"I think in a lot of cases this is one of the challenges of being in a relationship with someone from another part of the world — there is always someone missing home.

“So right now I’m focused on living in the present, not overthinking the future and appreciating all the positives of where we are now.

"10 years from now we might be back living in Ireland, but then again we might be somewhere else altogether.”

Kasha Connolly

Kasha lives in Galway with her husband John, who she met on a walking tour of the Burren in 2012.

The 35-year-old, who runs Hazel Mountain Chocolate with John, 39, is originally from Poland but changed her life plans to move first to north Clare and then on to Galway to be with the man of her dreams.

“I was working for a multinational company and came to Dublin in 2007,” she says.

“My friend and I visited Galway for New Year (2011) and booked a hiking trip of the Burren. The weather was unusually cold and the roads very icy, but we were determined to go and when we were greeted by a handsome, blue-eyed guide, my heart warmed up instantly.

“After a beautiful walk we returned to his cafe and sat by the fire for ages just chatting. I thought he was a very nice and interesting person, so after I returned to Dublin, we kept in touch and after a while, began to meet up at weekends.”

Despite living at opposite sides of the country, love blossomed for the couple and in 2012, Kasha made the decision to move ‘out west’ to be with her new man — and as they also both had a keen interest in food, decided to join forces in both their personal and professional lives.

“I stayed in Dublin for a year after meeting John and then decided to move,” she says.

“The prospect was equally fascinating and scary. I felt a little overwhelmed, but had found an amazing guy and was really excited — also at the prospect of setting up a business which I had true passion for.

“Since then I have published two cookbooks and we have set up two chocolate shops, a cafe, and factory. It’s been very intense and, of course, it has been difficult not seeing my friends and family very often but it’s been worth it, even though

“I do miss Polish food. I never thought my life would take this turn as Dublin was meant to be a temporary stop but Ireland is a wonderful country with wonderful people and now my life, love, and business are here — this is my home, I’m forever changed, and would never go back to live in Poland.”

Peter Scanlon

Peter met his wife Salla, 38, in Scotland almost two decades ago.

The Mayo man says it was love at first sight and when the time came for the couple to settle down, they agreed to move to her native Finland as she was pining for home.

“I met Salla through a friend in Scotland and was smitten at once, although it was a few months before I first asked her out — but after that, the rest is history,” says Scanlon, 50.

“She had come over for one year but ended up staying three and when the day came that we had to decide which country to move back to, we chose Finland because I wanted to be with her and she wanted to go home.”

Peter, who has two sons with Salla (Max, 6, and Kevin, 2), works for an environmental services agency and says while there are times he misses Ireland, he is happy to stay up north.

“The first few years were tough and I did at times consider moving home but I am glad now that I stuck it out, as Finland is not only a great country to raise a family in, but services are good, things run on time, and the people, once you get to know them, are really friendly,” he says.

“Of course, I miss friends, family, my mum in particular as she is getting on in age. I get home at least three times a year.

"It’s only a three-hour flight from Helsinki to Dublin so it’s not like being in America or Australia. As for the future, it is hard to say.

"Yes, I would like to move back at some point but for now, my life is here and I enjoy it.”

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