Spain’s Irish expat community is happy to stay forever

Published:  26 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, UK, Ireland, England
There are almost as many Irish expatriates living, working and retiring along Spain’s Costa del Sol as there are refugees from the UK.

The Irish expat community in Spain is mostly concentrated in the Costa del Sol region and, according to those living the dream, are more Irish than they ever were in the auld country. If they do return occasionally to the Emerald Isle, it’s only to visit friends and family or to attend wedding and funerals. The thought of returning to Ireland permanently simply doesn’t occur, with most saying they’d hate to have to go back.

One Irishwoman who came to the region in 2004, almost by accident, now has a family and wouldn’t dream of returning to the home country . The community, she says, is friendly, supportive and drawn together due to their common heritage, to the extent that everyone is family. She told the media some Irish nationals go back when they need professional healthcare, but only because they’ll be closer to their families’ and friends’ support networks, adding that healthcare in Spain is top quality. The official number of Irish nationals living in Spain is around 17,500 but, given that many don’t bother to register with the authorities, it’s likely to be far higher at around 30,000.

New arrivals admit to missing the Irish culture, as well as Irish TV programmes and the distinct Irish lifestyle, but see the climate, excellent public transport and first-class healthcare as the most positive aspects of their new lives. They’re fully aware the Spanish police have their hands full with drug-related crime, but don’t let it have a negative effect on their chosen lives. Memories of the home country bring a powerful, romantic pull, especially during holiday times such as St Patrick’s Day, Christmas and the New Year festivities, and one negative is that friendships tend to be temporary as many people move on to new destinations. It seems the Spanish locals love the Irish for their festivals and their Gaelic music, supposedly originating in Galicia, and traditional Irish songs are as popular in Marbella as they are in Ireland.
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