‘A lot of Irish people really do wonder why we left a paradise like Santa Cruz’

New to the Parish: Linda Rosewood and Artemis Crow moved to Ireland from California in 2017 and live in Donegal

In her home between the villages of Dunfanaghy and Creeslough in Co Donegal, it’s hard to fathom why Linda Rosewood left sunny Santa Cruz, California, for the hills.

But she did, moving to Ireland in 2017 with her wife Artemis Crow when they retired, having visited for the first time in 2008, and then again countless times after.

Her first introduction to the country she now calls home was around the kitchen table of her friend’s family’s home in Kenmare, Co Kerry.

“It wasn’t a tour bus, and it wasn’t Dublin, it was west Kerry, and there was no schedule, I just got to be in rural Ireland and in a very nice part of Ireland,” Rosewood says.


After this visit, Rosewood began using all her holiday days for holidays to Ireland.

“There’s something about the wind here, that just lifts us up, it just fills us with joy to feel the wind, so that’s about as spiritual as I get. I think everybody can relate to it, I mean unless you’re an ESB worker or something, but you dress for it, so I am here for the wind.”

When Donald Trump got elected as US president in 2016, the friends the couple had made in Ireland on previous holidays convinced them to move over, and they decided to do so in June of 2017.

“There wasn’t anything keeping us in Santa Cruz, so we thought we would just try it and see if we could get a visa for a year, and it just filled everything we wanted for the rest of our lives,” Rosewood says.

She had made a “little friendship circle” of women in Ireland on her previous travels here, some of whom she is still close with today, and one of them rented a house to Rosewood and her wife in Co Kerry when they first relocated.

“She had an empty holiday home that was on the market, so as long as you don’t mess it up, she was happy to let us rent it from her for a while, so we stayed for a summer, and we got a one-year visa and then the house sold,” Rosewood says.

So, they moved from one end of the country to the other, moving to Co Donegal in November 2017 with their dog Pippin in tow, “and everything just sort of clicked into place”.

“We met people, and it answered what we needed for this part of our lives. Both safety and solitude and calmness and quiet, and then also very rich cultural life. This part of Donegal has a lot of different kinds of people in it, so I think they don’t mind if different kinds of people live here,” Rosewood explains.

“We’re a little different than a lot of people who grew up here, and this part of Donegal is open to I mean, not just lesbian women or California women or something, but there’s just a vibrancy and a tolerance and a friendliness and a kind of people caring for each other.”

Of course, in typical small-town fashion, Rosewood laughs, while she and her wife were out walking Pippin around two weeks after moving to Donegal, somebody stopped them, having heard of “the two married ladies from California,” who recently moved to the area.

During the pandemic, Rosewood began sea swimming, “like everybody else,” and now, there is an entire community of people she swims with, “that takes care of each other”.

“Because it’s not organized or a traditional institution, there’s all kinds of people in it, all the different traditional communities of Donegal are all kind of mixing together in the water and taking care of each other”.

Every day we just wake up and go, oh my God, we live in Ireland now. I know it seems weird, the pace of life in California is so frenetic

“A lot of Irish people really do wonder why we left a paradise like Santa Cruz. California is a tourist destination, that has been for 150 years and has perfect weather and beautiful nature and everything. So I just say, well, I had to move somewhere better,” Rosewood says. Crow agrees.

One of the first nights she met the friend who eventually rented Rosewood her first Irish home, she was with a group of women in east Cork, sitting by the fire in another friend’s house.

“One of the women said, ‘let’s tell love stories’. So, each of us told a love story from our own lives to each other. That is something that I wouldn’t do, I had never done that in California before, but it felt completely normal,” she says.

“Just the whole idea of like, The Homes of Donegal, that song, and the fire, and the small sitting room with the low ceiling and a closeness in the physical space. It feels normal and homey.”

But the move came with challenges: “I had to learn how to drive all over again and that kicked my ass, because the driving instructor was very good and very strict. I’m a much better driver now,” Rosewood laughs.

“Every day we just wake up and go, oh my God, we live in Ireland now. I know it seems weird, the pace of life in California is so frenetic.

“The pace of life here is what we wanted, and it’s not for everybody, but we’re so lucky to have been able to find it and to be allowed to live here and have the friends that we have, because you need people around you,” Rosewood says.

“We have been welcomed here, and I don’t know if every country in the world would welcome people who arrive in their 50s, we’re not offering a lot, we’re not part of the school or the church.”

Crow quickly interjects here to remind Rosewood that she is, indeed, part of many things in Ireland, particularly with the promotion of the poet Ella Young, who moved to America when she was 58-years-old, bringing her spirituality with her.

“She kind of got forgotten here [in Ireland], but in her time in California, it’s sort of near the area I’m from, I think she influenced the things that made California really special,” Rosewood says.

I think if Irish people were more welcome to America, Ireland would be more welcoming to immigrants from America. It’s usually reciprocal

When Rosewood was working, she helped to raise money for cultural things, she says, and now helps the Ella Young group, volunteering to help raise money in America and Ireland.

She helped the group get money from the Government to work on a play about Young in California and has other things in the works both here and in the States on the subject, “because Irish people leave Ireland, they have to leave for whatever reason and they make incredible contributions globally”.

Rosewood says that if her visa renewal continues to go through each year, then she will stay here for the rest of her days.

“I think if Irish people were more welcome to America, Ireland would be more welcoming to immigrants from America. It’s usually reciprocal. Right now, we apply every year, and I really hope that we just get to keep doing that. The rules could change. Our circumstances could change,” she says.

On October 7th, 2022, Rosewood received a call from a neighbour, frantically asking where Crow was.

“Is she in Creeslough? Is she in the shop?!” her neighbour asked.

Thankfully, she was not. But an estimated number of 30 people were in the complex, 10 were killed and eight were hospitalised when an explosion ripped through a building housing apartments and a supermarket and adjoining service station.

“Everybody just rang everybody immediately to find out, because you’re in and out of that place just like everybody said,” Rosewood says tearfully, recalling people she knows who lost everything.

“There was a darkness everywhere, and everyone was finding shelter with each other”.

“To be able to come to a whole other country and find that universal neighbourliness, you find out who your neighbours are, neighbours you didn’t even know you had,” she says.

“People who were in the thick of it have all their stories of course, but we were just on the edges of it, and I was just so impressed, like, these are good people. They’re going to take care of each other.”

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