Irish parents living in US tell of their fear after latest shooting spree

Irish parents living in US tell of their fear after latest shooting spree

Ger and Kate Shivnan with their children Tom Shivnan (8) and Isabella Shivnan (6). Ger is from Roscommon but the family is living in Manhattan.

Irish parents raising their children in the US have expressed their fear and anger in the wake of yet another mass shooting in which 19 children were killed at a Texas elementary school.

Ger Shivnan, originally from Roscommon, has been living in America for the past decade. Now based in Manhattan, his two children, Tom (8) and Isabella (6), would be of a similar age to those murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Mr Shivnan said, despite the fact New York is deemed a relatively safe state when it comes to mass shootings, his two young children have already received training on what to do in the case of an active shooter.

“The kids were only in daycare, and they were doing active shooter drills as toddlers. It was presented as if it were games. But the reality is that they were being taught that there was a bad man coming, and this is where you hide,” he said.

It's always in the back of your mind that there's a real and ever-present danger when sending your kids to school. 

“You're afraid, as a parent, just by this existential threat of gun violence,” he added.

Mr Shivnan said there are parts of America where gun culture is absolutely ingrained into the psyche.

“It is an extension of the person themselves, in much the same way it is at a home for a young hurling fan and their hurley. It never leaves their side,” he added.

'A world apart'

Cormac McCormack has been living in the US for nearly 30 years. Also based in New York, he has a 12-year-old son named Leo.

“You drop your kid off to school in the morning and you think they’re safe. Then something like this happens, it's hard to comprehend,” Mr McCormack said.

The Longford native said the difference in realities, in terms of school life in Ireland and the US, came when he was with his brother on a morning school run in Tullamore.

“The two kids just jumped out of the car, and ran off to play with all the other kids in the yard. In America, you could never do that.

You bring your kid to school, you watch them go in the doors. 

“No playing outside or hanging around. But there are security guards. It is a world apart,” he added.

'Left emotional'

Another Manhattan resident, Aidan Fogarty left his home in Dublin 22 years ago.

Now rearing a two-year-old and a six-year-old, Mr Fogarty said there is a lot of anger accompanying the sadness in the wake of this shooting.

Today is my daughter's birthday. So speaking to my wife about what happened, it has left me a little bit emotional. 

“I'm looking forward to getting my daughter in my arms today and celebrating her birthday,” he said.

“Discussing it with my wife, and seeing how it affected her, brought it really close to home even though it was such a long distance away,” he added.

The Dublin native said he has always considered sending his two children to Ireland for secondary school, and that incidents like this are further opening the door for that conversation.

“Not because the education is better, but because of safety,” he added.

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