Grandparents Janet and Eugene Bennis will depart Limerick on Saturday, February 14, for Australia to make a new life with their four children and four grandchildren who have settled Down Under.
Many parents live in the hope that chidren forced to emigrate will one day return.
However, to be a family again, Janet and Eugene will have to move to Australia, as all their children have settled in Brisbane.
In uprooting for a new life, they are now coping with the heartache of leaving behind relatives, neighbours, and friends in Limerick — many of whom they might never meet again.
Janet, 53, and Eugene, 59, yesterday told their children — Jennifer, 30; Eoin, 29; Claire, 26; and Cian, 24 — that they have booked their flight for Valentine’s Day and that packing was underway at the family home at Granville Park.
Janet said: “All our four children and four grandchildren are settled in Australia and we have come to the realisation they will never return home to Ireland.
“Eugene and I decided that if we want to be with our children and enjoy seeing and being with our grandchildren as they grow up, there was only one way forward and that was to move to Australia.
“The decision was made somewhat easier in that all four live in Brisbane. We thought the youngest, Cian, might come back. But he told us there was no way he would be coming back as too many of his friends in Limerick had died by suicide.
“To be a family again and be with our children and grandchildren, the move to Australia is what Eugene and I have to do.
“Time waits for nobody and we are not getting any younger. If we were to wait another 10 years, it would be too late.”
Janet said that while they have lots of contact with their children and grandchildren through Skype and other technology, there is still a big void.
She said: “You cannot give your grandchild a cuddle on Skype and say, ‘come over here to nana’. This is that contact you miss.”
The couple has completed the sale of their home in Granville Park and obtained all the necessary permanent residency visas and bonds — which cost them A$100,000 (over €68,000) due to their age.
Janet said: “It’s a very exciting time and a very sad time. There is this ripple effect. When families moved to the US years ago, there was the American Wake. Now we are facing an Australian Wake as we prepare to say goodbye to all our close family and life long friends here in Limerick.
“This is a very painful aspect of making our new life with all our children and grandchilren.
“At this hour of our lives, there is no kind of safety net for us in making this big move. There will be no coming back.
“We are lucky that all our children are living in the one place in Australia, as, otherwise, us moving there might not be an option.”