From Busko to Clonmel: Maria Boduch was born in 1987 in Busko, Poland. Maria moved to Ireland in 2011 and now lives outside Clonmel with her husband Wojciech and two children, Maja and Nel.
Maria Boduch speaks lovingly about the close relationship with her entire family back home in Poland. Emigrating to Ireland was never a big plan or dream. Ireland was just a foreign country far away from Poland - 2,375 km to be exact. She knew little about the Irish culture, way of life, people, or language until friends of hers who had left Poland to live in Clonmel and Belfast shared their experiences.
They explained that living in Ireland was easier and that you got to save more money there. Little did she know back then that Ireland would be the place where Maria would start her family and feel at home for the very first time in her life.
At the age of only 17, Maria found her true love Wojciech. Since the young couple would have had to have moved to a bigger town in Poland or find a different kind of solution to getting a good job, they decided to go to Ireland for a short period of time. Wojciech managed to land a well-paid job with Abbott in Clonmel straight away.
Maria really liked getting to know the Irish and explains, “I love the mentality of the Irish. Life in Ireland isn’t just about work and having a career. In Ireland there is more time for family than in Poland.” The young couple had always planned to have kids and Ireland looked like a great place to live. With no obligations in Poland, Maria wanted to start something new.
2007 was a magical summer for Maria. Just before finishing her vacation in Ireland to fly back to Poland, Wojciech took her to Cahir Castle and proposed there. Of course, she said yes, and this romantic moment made Cahir Castle one of her favourite places around Clonmel.
Three years after the engagement, the couple got married in their hometown of Busko. It was a celebration with 120 guests - an average size wedding in Poland. Their friends and families will never forget the day, because it was the hottest day of the hottest year in Poland. Maria laughs and says, “It felt like 40 degrees. My Dad had to get cold beer to prevent emergencies, so our guests wouldn’t die of the heat.” There was no air conditioning in the hotel. It was quite challenging. Maria had a 6-layer dress which did not help either. But apart from the heat, it was a beautiful day for her. Very touching and romantic, and she enjoyed this great party with all her loved ones.
It was 2011 when Maria moved to Ireland full time, during the economic crisis after the Celtic Tiger. It wasn’t easy to find work and the first year was hard for her. As soon as Maria found a job, she also started socialising with local people and colleagues which really turned things around for her. It was a challenging year for everyone but after a rocky start, Maria really enjoyed her life in Clonmel.
Maria enjoyed getting to know the Irish culture and says it was a positive experience, that Irish people are friendly. Reminiscing about her early days in Ireland, Maria says excitedly, “In Ireland I have always been stunned by the live music in the pubs and it’s something so Irish you can’t experience anywhere else. Irish people are so talented! This whole country can sing which I can’t – so I am very jealous of that.”
The young couple lived in Cahir when Maria first arrived. She enjoyed living close to the castle surrounded by a beautiful green landscape. After a while, she and Wojciech moved to Clonmel. They were sharing a house in Clonmel with two other guys, but Maria never really felt at home. It felt like being in student accommodation without any privacy.
It wasn’t until 2014, when they bought a house in Knockbrett outside Clonmel, that Maria started really feeling at home. For the first time she had her own place in the world and enjoyed this very much.
Thinking about her Sense of Place, Maria says, “I am not bound to one location. My life has been full of different places.” Her first home is a house she owns, and this is significant for Maria. It is the first time that she feels privacy, freedom, and self-determination. Owning a house is important to Maria since it means having a place where she can decide what she wants to do.
Maria explained that she can easily fit in everywhere. Her expectations aren’t high, and she doesn’t need to live in a castle to be happy. Maria’s happiness is all about being surrounded by family and friends. The people around Maria are what is most important to her. Ireland will always hold a special place in her heart being the place where she has found her home and has so many fond memories. Maria’s Sense of Place revolves especially around her husband and girls. She states, “I couldn’t live without them and all I want is for my loved ones to be happy and healthy.”
For Maria the best thing about coming to Ireland was giving birth to her children. Her two girls Maja and Nel were born in 2016 and 2019.
The young mother describes, “Starting our family was something very special that was happening. This made our lives complete and filled with happiness.” Her two girls will always keep her fond memories of Ireland alive.
The experience of giving birth to her girls in Ireland was very positive. Both labours were kind of difficult for Maria, but the medical support, the midwifes and the nurses in the hospital were a great help. Compared to the stories from her friends and her mum in Poland, giving birth in Ireland is a much more positive experience.
Ireland allows Maria and Wojciech to spend much more time with their girls. The young mother has the feeling that it’s easier to take care of her kids in Ireland and her working conditions allow her to both raise her kids and work part-time.
Before having the girls, Maria and Wojciech had lots of friends and family visiting who were absolutely fascinated by all the sights and attractions such as the Giants Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, and Cahir Castle.
When Maria’s mum first visited Ireland, she immediately fell in love with the country. As a passionate gardener, the different shades of green, the blue of the ocean, and the colourful nature impressed her. Ireland gives her the chance to relax and recharge her batteries. Spending time with her grandchildren is the icing on the cake for her. Since the grandchildren were born and raised in Ireland, she doesn´t see them often. Besides the green scenery and nature, Maria’s mum likes the Irish culture and Maria has taken her to the pub a few times. Maria and her mum believe that Guinness tastes the best in a proper Irish pub - from the barrel, cold and fresh.
Arriving in Ireland, Maria was a young woman enjoying the nightlife, pubs, and shopping in Clonmel. “I have a lot of great memories about Clonmel’s night life. I liked it!” Maria found it easy to meet friends in Clonmel and among her Irish colleagues who taught her what going to a pub actually means in Ireland. Nowadays, Maria loves Fethard because it’s very charming, relaxed, and less busy than Clonmel. She explains that Clonmel has all these great alternatives to offer with Cahir, Cashel and Fethard so close and well connected.
Maria likes the variety of great restaurants Clonmel has to offer. There is no need to drive to a big city like Dublin or Cork to eat great food. You can get everything locally and Maria is convinced that it will be tasty because “Irish are Foodies”.
In all her jobs in Ireland, Maria got to work with a mixture of Irish and foreign people and always felt welcomed and included. Working with Irish people has helped Maria to improve her English and she has enjoyed getting to know the Irish way of life. She has also managed to find quite a few Polish friends, helping her to feel at home away from home.
Irish people don’t know a lot about Polish history or culture. Poland isn’t a famous place for summer holidays like Spain or Italy. Some Irish who are working with Polish get curious and visit Poland. When they see Krakow or Gdansk, they are charmed by the options they have. When the first Polish people came to Ireland, the Irish thought that Poland would be a poor country that doesn’t have much to explore. When they visit Poland, they are positively surprised. Nightclubs are different and open until the morning hours. Maria amusingly states, “For the Irish this is unbelievable. When you tell them a pint of beer costs just €1, they want to visit straight away.”
Every time the family visits Poland, they like bringing back souvenirs such as good quality Irish whiskey. Maria’s dad is obsessed with the strong, tasty Irish tea. When returning to Ireland, there is no need to take anything back because the Polish culture is strong here with plenty of Polish shops. The only thing she misses from Poland are her friends and family but unfortunately, she cannot bring them with her to Ireland.
Maria explains, “When Covid happened in 2020 it changed everything.” She felt isolated and alone. WhatsApp or Skype calls were the only contact to loved ones. It wasn’t until Covid that Maria felt like she had completely left Poland behind her. Before, friends and family could visit each other. Now Maria’s perspective changed, and she feels like she is far away from home.
The biggest challenge of starting their family in Ireland is the absent support from back home. Growing up Maria and Wojciech were always surrounded by their family and had a close relationship with all their cousins too. For their children this is not possible and because of the distance it is not easy to keep in touch. Maria´s and Wojciech´s mums visit for short periods of time but there is nobody to support the couple. That’s why they are thinking about selling their house and moving back to Poland.
Maria is currently expecting her third child and with both parents working it is not going to get any easier. Maria is considering giving birth to their third child in Ireland and then moving back home to Poland where she can get support from her family. The grandparents are getting older and aren’t as comfortable with travelling. In Poland they would be closer to their family. If Maria had some of her family in Ireland, she would never consider going back to Poland. She says, “I would go back to Ireland without even thinking about it twice if I ever had the feeling my family was unhappy in Poland.”
Maria’s Sense of Place has developed over the years. When she and her husband bought their first house in the countryside, Maria felt at home for the first time in her life. “We bought a house and created this little piece of heaven for ourselves.”
She is a positive and happy person. Since Maria’s life and happiness revolves around her husband and kids, she can luckily take her Sense of Place with her and will always treasure her memories of Ireland. That’s where she started her family, bought her first real home, and got her happy ending with her true love.
Gina Dennehy - a German lady with a love for Clonmel and for writing.
Gina Dennehy is from Bavaria, Germany. She is married to Paul Dennehy from Clonmel and has one daughter, Sarah-Paula. Gina developed her love for writing early on and is part of a creative writing group in her hometown. She regularly takes part in writing competitions and has been published in ‘Wild and Wonderful’ and ‘Vom Prosakuchen zum Lyrikparfait.’
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