Limerick Voices from Abroad: Shirley O’Donnell

Every Saturday, Limerick Voice reporter, Siobhan Comyns, speaks to Limerick natives who have emigrated.

Who? Shirley O’Donnell.

From? Pallasgreen, Limerick.

Now living in? Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Shirley just before she dived into the sky 18,000 ft above Lake Taupo in New Zealand.

When did you leave Ireland and why?

I left Ireland in September 2012 to train as a nurse in the UK.  I stayed there until February 2018 when I moved to Australia.  I lived in Australia for a year and then in March 2019, I moved to New Zealand.

Where did you study?

University of Hertfordshire, UK. I graduated as a nurse in 2015.

Describe your job.

I’m a registered nurse, currently working in the busy Emergency Department at Palmerston North Hospital.  I have previously worked as a nurse in a prison, a cosmetic surgery hospital, a cardiac unit, a spinal unit and I have also worked as a rural nurse. 

What is living in New Zealand like?

I live on the North Island in a town of approximately 80,000 people called Palmerston North.  It’s about an hour and a half north of Wellington.  New Zealand is more similar to Ireland than Australia in terms of both the climate, the scenery and the people.  It’s damp and green with beautiful mountains.  The people are laid back and friendly and are rugby mad!

Shirley and her friend at a music festival in Wellington.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in working abroad?

Ireland is a small country where opportunities can be limited.  Personally, I have been fortunate enough to have had opportunities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand that I would never have had at home.  Irish people are very well liked abroad and are seen to be hard workers.  I have had so many positive life experiences since I moved.  I now realise that it’s the people you meet and not the places you go that are important.  Social media makes it easier than ever to stay in contact with friends and family at home.  It’s good to step out of your comfort zone!

What do you miss most about Limerick?

Time with my family.

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