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‘Influencing my decision to emigrate was the fact it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage 12-hour nursing shifts’

I feel there is a half of my heart in Scotland and half in Ireland, says Elaine McGoldrick, who has emigrated again

I emigrated to Britain in April 2023 for the second time in my 57, almost 58, years. It was not a forced move, due to the housing crisis or the cost of living here in Ireland – though the cost of living in Scotland is considerably cheaper than it is in Dublin, with rent in Dundee being about one-quarter of the cost of Dublin.

Rather, it was about choice, adventure, new experiences, opportunities and career progression.

I took up a post as a systemic (family) psychotherapist with NHS Tayside in Dundee, Scotland, last April - 22 years after I left the NHS to return to Ireland to raise my children. I had originally trained as a mental health nurse in the UK.

Influencing my decision to emigrate was the fact that it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage 12-hour nursing shifts in my fifties.


I had completed my training as a systemic (family) therapist in 2012, but there were almost no jobs in Ireland in the public service for systemic (family) therapists, and only very few in the private sector. I worked in private practice for a few years, but it was difficult to make more than a part-time income. In the UK, each child and adolescent mental health service is required to have systemic (family) therapists attached to each locality team.

I applied for a position with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in NHS Tayside, and was successful. I was also offered a relocation package.

It was a senior clinical post with a leadership/management role. It is a challenging, fast-paced and varied role, working across three teams - eating disorders, care-experienced children, and general adult psychiatry. While years of austerity have impacted the NHS, it still provides excellent opportunities for learning, career progression and further education.

Within the NHS there is a very positive attitude towards older workers and ageism isn’t tolerated. Something, I noticed particularly, was the number of women in their fifties who were supported in completing doctorates in psychology or psychotherapy and were being encouraged to apply for senior roles. Many clinicians are also encouraged and supported in working into their sixties through flexible working hours and contracts.

On a personal level, moving to work in the UK was about starting something new, new beginnings and choosing the direction that I wanted the next phase of my life to go in.

I had been a single parent for 18 years. My two children were now young adults and they were both in college. It was time for me to follow my desires and dreams.

In many ways, although there is greater physical distance between us, we, as a family, are closer. I am not just mum who is available all the time, but mum with a separate life in a different country.

They are young adults managing their lives daily without me. Our perceptions of each other have changed, but positively.

I feel there is a half of my heart in Scotland and half in Ireland. I come home happily every second weekend to see my children and my partner, but I also really enjoy my job, and am happy to return to Scotland.

I have extremely supportive work colleagues in Scotland, and I have made friends there. I will stay there for the next few years unless a new adventure comes my way.

  • Elaine McGoldrick is from Waterford, but left when she was 18. She works with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in NHS Tayside in Dundee, Scotland. She returns to Ireland every two weeks.
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