My Journey Toward Getting an Irish Passport
Once our children left home, my husband, Pete, and I realized the days of big family dinners and holiday gatherings were going to be much less frequent. So, in our 40s, we sold absolutely everything we owned and decided to explore as many countries as we could over a five-year period and then settle back in the U.S.
We were able to do this since we earn our income online. Pete is the author of several books on weightlifting and in 1996 used his knowledge to build a fitness website selling e-books and other products. Since then, we’ve also launched an online consultancy that advises other online business owners on how to grow their ventures through strategies such as search engine optimization.
With the freedom provided by our go-anywhere incomes, in 2006 we packed up our laptops and two suitcases and left on our multiyear odyssey. Five years of nomadic travel turned into 10 and lengthy stays in dozens of countries. Eventually, we realized we weren’t going to return to the U.S. and concluded that the European lifestyle was for us. The decision we faced was where to settle in Europe.
Ireland was a country we’d yet to visit, but everyone we asked about it had only lovely things to say. I had only a U.S. passport and that limited me to 90-day stays in EU member countries. So we decided to try it for 90 days and if we liked it, pursue the path to citizenship.
We flew into Dublin and drove across Ireland from east to west, stopping to explore several towns and counties. There is a fairytale quality about Ireland that enlivens your senses. Natural beauty surrounds you at every turn. The country is absolutely as advertised in every guide book.
I also found that Ireland has a charm unlike anything I’d experienced in my travels. Living in Ireland is like turning back the clock 50 years…in a good way. It combines the community feeling of yesteryear with modern conveniences.
In Ireland, small-town charm is paired with high-speed internet. You invariably strike up a friendly conversation in every pub you visit. People remember your name. Small shopping streets and mom-and-pop stores are the norm in much of Ireland. Neighbors are genuinely friendly and want to know about you, yet also embrace a live-and-let-live approach to others. The music festivals are a joy and the food from the markets is so fresh and flavorful.
The immigration process was also relatively straightforward. Fortunately, my husband has a British passport and I’m here on an EU spouse visa. But there are other ways to move to the country, including for retirement or if you find a job in Ireland, which has a modern economy with world-class tech, banking, and pharmaceutical sectors.
After applying, it took me about six months to get my five-year residency card. I didn’t need to hire an attorney to help and everything was completed in just three appointments with the country’s immigration agency.
We’re here four years now, having spent time living in County Donegal and County Clare. After being legally resident for another year, I’ll reach the five-year threshold and be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship through naturalization or to renew my residency for another five years. The rule in Ireland is that you must have five years reckonable residence out of the last nine years to apply for citizenship.
I’d recommend the country and the process to anyone exploring options for a second passport and a quality, European lifestyle.
By Connie Brentford