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‘I didn’t know much about Ireland but I imagined kindness, freedom and people being open’

New to the Parish: Cristina Stamatescu arrived from Romania in 2008

Cristina Stamatescu knew very little about Ireland. Her only connection to the island was a teenage crush.

“I had a crush on Ronan Keating from Boyzone. I still have their posters in my Romanian bedroom. I remember working in radio when I was in high school and my colleagues knew about me and Ronan and Boyzone and how much I liked them,” she says.

“I got this recording of an interview that they did and I would keep playing it on and on on a cassette. I was fascinated by the accent.”

Stamatescu moved to Ireland in 2008 seeking a new life. She had about €2,000 on her, which she had calculated would last her for three months, and a determination that she “had to make it”.


Deciding to move to Ireland was a difficult decision. She wanted an English-speaking country, but ruled out the US and Canada as they were too far away from her home country.

“It was one of those feelings that the world was at my feet and I could make it anywhere so I wanted to test myself and put myself to that challenge,” she says.

“I came to Ireland and I wanted to see how it felt. I got off the plane and took a deep breath. I looked around and went to the Four Courts. I saw barristers leading cases and it was a matter of hours for me to decide that this feels right.”

I was so lucky to get a flatmate that ended up being a lovely, nice, Irish genuine person

When she was officially moving, she arrived in Dublin Airport on a flight at 2am: “I had luggage and a laptop with me, but I was full of hope and was so nervous.”

“My first few nights in Ireland were in overnight accommodation until I could find something more permanent. It took me about three or four days to get accommodation and I was so lucky to get a flatmate that ended up being a lovely, nice, Irish genuine person.”

Stamatescu describes that period in her life as “so lucky”. She lived in a house share on Parnell Road in Dublin. Here, her housemate introduced her to some people she still – 15 years later – considers friends.

“I didn’t know much about Ireland but somehow I imagined kindness, freedom and people being open. So I was happy to discover that,” she says.

“I was included in their dinner club. That was the start of my Irish life. The friend group that my flatmate had were all nationalities and, lucky to say, I managed to maintain some of those dinner club members as my friends.”

Stamatescu studied law in Romania and says she was “very lucky” to get a job as a legal executive in a solicitor’s firm in Dublin soon after her arrival.

“I worked there for 4½ years. I did my exams with the law society during that period and I was able in 2013 to qualify as a solicitor in Ireland,” she says, a step the Law Society of Ireland says made her the first person from Romania to qualify as a solicitor here.

“A few months after I qualified, I set up my own practice and I had my own practice for nine years. The summer of last year, 2022, I was incorporated by a bigger firm in Dublin, which meant I continued to do what I was doing without the burden of running the practice. Now I have the opportunity to do more of the legal work and take a step back from the administration side.”

Everything is a change. I am one of those people who get attached to a pencil and then I’m devastated if I lose it

Stamatescu’s love for the legal profession is clear. She works primarily in the areas of immigration, asylum and human rights.

“It is art for me. I’m excited for work everyday. It’s tough and comes with challenges. However, the rewards are exceptional in terms of being able to help people,” she says.

Though moving to Ireland has been incredibly satisfying, there were challenges along the way too. Making friends was one of the biggest obstacles she faced, though one she made later became her husband.

“It’s been a tough road in terms of making friends and making a family here in Ireland. It’s very hard to start from zero when it comes to your personal life because I don’t have my high-school friends. I don’t have university friends here,” she says.

There have been loads of challenges. Everything is a challenge. Because everything is a change. I am one of those people who get attached to a pencil and then I’m devastated if I lose it. I chose to leave everyone and everything so everything was a challenge.”

Statmatescu says there were various times over the 15 years when she didn’t necessarily want to give up but did feel “completely overwhelmed”.

“I find myself many times having to remind myself that I need to lift my head from what I’m doing and to look around me because there was so many opportunities and so much support.”

Ireland, she says, is home. It has good and bad sides, she acknowledges, but it’s where her family is; it’s where her heart is.

“I love the nature. I love that I have the mountains and the beach close by. I love the diversity and the people,” she says.

“I love the acceptance and inclusion in terms of everyone around. It’s one of those things that it’s hard to explain but you feel it.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email or tweet @newtotheparish