independent

Sunday 20 October 2019

gold rush

Last week was quiet for Adrian Power in Vancouver – he 'only worked sixty hours'

WORDS: DAVID MEDCALF

'LAST WEEK was quiet, I only did sixty hours,' says carpenter Adrian Power jauntily down the line from Vancouver on the west coast of Canada.

As he takes the telephone call, it is lunch time on the site of a new Mitsubishi garage that is being built in a city which is attracting a growing number of Irish workers, refugees from the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. Next week, he continues, he expects to have moved to the site of a new Nissan garage.

The contrast with the economy back home could scarcely be more extreme. Back home in Kilrush he would probably be sitting on his hands while here, on the shores of the far Pacific, he is in demand six days a week, every week.

Girlfriend Ailish and their young son Cathal came out for a short visit during the summer holidays. The likelihood is that the next time they fly over, it will be for much longer than a few weeks. The wind seems set fair behind the economy here and Adrian Power is happy to follow the money.

Sometimes, it feels as though he has not left home at all, there are so many Irish around. He took a few hours off recently to go to the city centre where there is a choice of Irish pubs. He sauntered into the Blarney Stone and found himself rubbing shoulders with two lads he played underage football for Wexford with – Barry Fitzgerald and John O'Connor from Gorey. In the same establishment, he met a fellow former student of the FCJ School – Ciara Meyler from Bunclody.

The welcome extended by native Canadians to the green wave of Irish arrivals has been second to none. Nevertheless, for those who prefer to keep home company, it is quite possible to remain within the Irish fold – and not just at the Blarney Stone.

Shortly after he arrived with Matthew Roberts from Myshall, whose uncle was their first contact in Vancouver, Adrian found himself doing what he had not done at home for several years, playing hurling. He has adopted the colours of the JP Ryans where once he played in the black and amber of Kilrush/Askamore. He reckons that the local Gaelic games club has about sixty hurlers and as many footballers.

To date they do not have their own grounds but there is no shortage of municipal parks where they can train. The influx of talent fresh from Ireland, meant that the JP Ryans fielded two teams rather than just one in the North American junior hurling championship in California. Perhaps a third side will be possible in future.

'I am fairly sure that more lads from home are coming out here next year,' says Adrian, a son of John and Angela Power. He intends to make the journey home for Christmas but then he will be looking to the Canadian authorities for a second year visa, to be followed by an application full residency.

The setting of Vancouver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is sensational, with views across the sea to Mount Baker on the United States side of the border tipped with snow all year round. The climate in the city is reminiscent of home but up in the hills, a 25 minute drive away, the thrill of the piste beckons and the Wexford man has already bought a snow board.

'Australia seems a bit further away,' he muses on the decision to head west rather than south. 'Anyway, you go where your contacts are. The original idea was to come over for six months but there is very little in terms of positive opportunities to go home to. Anyone you talk to in Ireland says, if you can stick it out, stay where you are.'

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