Newry’s Lost Generation, with Mark Keenan
Name: Mark Keenan
Education/experience: BSc Hons Building Surveying from UUJ.
What part of Newry & Mourne are you originally from? Armagh Road
When did you leave Newry? March 2011.
Why did you leave Newry? The construction industry at home is pretty much on hold and a lot of my mates from university were living the good life in Australia so I decided to give it a go. I was full time in Louis Boyds, who have always looked after me, but the time was right to take the plunge and it was definitely the right choice.
Who did you go with? I flew over with a lad from Derry who I knew from Belfast, we had a good network of people here already so we had help setting up.
What are you doing now? Are you working? I am a Building Surveyor in Perth WA, have been working in the job for six months between a private company and local council.
Are you enjoying life away from Newry? Yes, 99% of the time I love it to bits; the freedom, the climate and the money are all out of this world especially when you compare them to what’s in Ireland and the UK. Homesickness still hits though, so you do have to learn to cope with it. We always talk about it as part of the Monday horrors, usually it comes with a hangover – although that’s life, the drink is a curse!
What do you miss most about Newry? I miss my family, friends and people I used to work with; but a big thing was giving up my Saturdays with Finn Harps. The football side of things wasn’t important but the day itself: meeting in the town for a fry, sticking on a few bets, the match, watching the results come in on Sky Sports and planning the night out ahead was always brilliant craic. There’s other small things you wouldn’t even think of like grabbing a La Dolce Vita or Kens on a Sunday night.
When will you return to Newry? I’ll be back soon enough, probably within the year, although first I have to make sure I always have the option to come back to Australia.
Career ambition: I have qualifications in Surveying so I can always try to use them, but I think my perfect job is to move into Health and Fitness as a Personal Trainer. Moving into the Leisure industry isn’t tough but there’s a lot of competition so I won’t be rushing into it. For now, so long as I have enough money to get me by that’ll do nicely.
What would you say to anybody still living in Newry who can’t find work? Do what feels right. Don’t go anywhere just because your friends are. Moving to Australia was the biggest thing I’ve ever done and I had to sink everything I had into it; both in terms of effort and financially. That being said, it was also the best thing I’ve ever done and I would encourage leaving, if for nothing else but the experience of living in a different culture or way of life. Some of the stories you come back with and sights you see are amazing.
Anything else you would like to add? Irish people do well all over the world and there are massive Irish communities on every continent to help you out. Newry is always going to be there, but a time may come when you can’t leave anymore – so make the most of it and go explore the world!
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