An Immigrant's Struggle

Lately, my husband has taken up writing and started his own blog. He has always been an excellent conversationalist, willing to share a story or impart some wisdom to anyone willing to listen. Often, people have told him he should become a politician or write a book. Thus The Bantering Barman was born. Thanks to everyone for encouraging him (I say that with 73% sincerity and 27% sarcasm). I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t jealous of his writing. It comes so naturally to him. He sits down to write his blog, and the words pour out. There is no second-guessing or writer’s block. He makes it look effortless. When all is said and done, his posts are eloquent and heartwarming.

He writes about what he knows and, more importantly, what he loves. He writes about his first home and the Immigrant experience, or at least his experience as an immigrant. Almost 30 years ago, he left Ireland and made America his home. He worked, he played, and he eventually started a family. He put down roots here, but his heart will forever be in two places. His raw emotions translate into beautiful prose.

Being married to an immigrant has its ups and downs. He gave me an amazing extended family, which accepted this Yank with open arms. I have the privilege of spending a few weeks every summer in Ireland. I get to call one of the most beautiful countries in the world my second home. One of the most special benefits is my kids are dual citizens. They will always have two countries to embrace and call home. There are so many reasons being married to an immigrant is so special.

View from home in Kerrykeel, Co. Donegal
There is only one downfall. Heartache. Not only his. My heart often aches for him. No matter how long he has been here, there will always be a longing for Ireland. A piece of his heart will always be there. The few weeks spent in Donegal during the summer are never enough. Every trip home for him, he notices how things have changed. It may look different, yet the feeling is the same. It’s true there is no place like home!

McAteer Family 2019

Harder for him than being away from those rolling green hills and his beloved lighthouse is being so far from his family. A big family, it is! His parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews are all still in Ireland. My family has embraced him and he tolerates our craziness, but I know it is not the same. Holidays are spent with my family, while he video chats with his. I cannot even imagine how that has to feel. To ease some of his homesickness, I feel like I overcompensate to make each holiday perfect. I’m not sure how well it works, but he puts on a good show.

This year, Christmas was extra hard for him. Actually, it was hard for his whole family. They lost a great man on Christmas Eve. Covid made it impossible to get home for the funeral. One of his biggest fears throughout the pandemic came true. He has been concerned he couldn’t get home in an emergency. I was devastated for him. Watching his uncle’s funeral on Facebook, I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do to ease his pain. Covid has kept him from his family for nearly three years now. As we plan our next trip, all I can do is pray that borders stay open and we stay healthy.

So many people emigrate for countless reasons; they make a new home and build a new life. They are grateful for all that they have in their new homes, but it is not without a price. Immigrants sacrifice so much and leave so much behind. Regardless of their reasons, their new lives are not without heartache. Being married to someone whose heart is in two countries is difficult, but it is easy either. I do my best to be empathetic. I love living in a town full of immigrants. Because of what I have learned from my husband, I see them and wonder who they had to leave me behind, and imagine how hard it must be. I don’t know if I could have ever been as strong as they have had to be. I know that a little kindness and empathy go a long way.

If we all showed that the world would be a much better place.


  1. I can't imagine leaving my family behind. Bless your husband

  2. Beautiful - thank you for sharing. Sorry to hear about your loss and the challenges you've faced not being able to return to Ireland during Covid. I relate to your story in a few ways. I'm Australian, currently in Cyprus unable to return home for two years now. For now, I'm making Cyprus home. My husband's father immigrated from Cyprus when he was eighteen years old. My Grandmother immigrated to Australia. She left me a beautiful gift, a special inheritance. My Irish citizenship which I treasure. I long to return there too when travel opens further - to see the green, hear the songs, and feel the warm of the Irish.

  3. He has family here too. We may not be the family he grew up with but we are family never the less. I don't know how my Grandmother left Ireland getting on that ship away from the family she would never see again. They spoke on the phone occasionally but she never hugged or held her parentsor siblings after she left again. I know one of the hardest days during WWII that my father felt when he was in dock in Ireland (Derry) just across the border from his Grandparents he had never met and was not allowed to cross the border to Donegal to meet them because he was in uniform. My father went to Ireland as a 70 year old man and was "welcomed home" by all his cousins (Hannah being one of them). It was a very happy day for him. Any time you or he need a shot of his family you are welcome to come visit. Lots to do with the kids here and we have lots of kids ranging in age from 17 down to 1. We always have room.


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