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‘Ireland has given me lots of opportunity ... it’s a very accommodating society’

New to the Parish: Dr Ahmad Basirat came to Ireland from Pakistan in 2016 and is now so settled, he says ‘byebyebyebyebyebye’ when hanging up the phone

Dr Ahmad Basirat comes from a family of doctors in Pakistan. Both of his parents are doctors, as are his two siblings and his wife.

He moved to Ireland in 2016, after doing a month-long observership in St James’s Hospital in 2013, during his fourth year of medical school.

His mother’s youngest brother has lived in Ireland for over 15 years, and Basirat’s month in St James’s hospital kickstarted his desire to move here as well, and in 2016 he began working in the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

“It was different in every way because like back home, imagine, my parents’ house and my brother, like I used to drive my own car and have a big house, we’d have a gardener, driver, other things and obviously when I came here, I didn’t have driving lessons in order to drive here,” Basirat says.


He had to make his own way living in Ireland, relying on public transport until he passed his driving test, got a PPS number and set up a bank account.

In 2017, Basirat got married and his wife joined him in Ireland. They moved to Dublin in 2018 and Basirat started working in Tallaght Hospital, rotating between there and Peamount Healthcare. He has worked across a number of Dublin hospitals.

His specialty is respiratory medicine, and when he moved to Ireland, he did not expect to be actively involved in a global pandemic.

“The first case that actually landed here in the hospital was in 2020, February or March, and I was actually on call . . . I went home and then the message was circulated that whoever the doctors on call [were], they probably have to contact an occupation[al] heath someone because there’s a Covid-positive [patient] in the hospital,” Basirat says.

By the time the pandemic started, Basirat had one son, born in December 2018, and in August 2020, his wife gave birth to their second son, “when the Covid war was up in the sky”, he says.

“It was a very difficult time, but obviously the specialty, respiratory medicine, we were very actively involved and very close to all of these Covid cases, and it’s kind of a thing, because I think almost every other profession was able to work from home, but we have to see the patients and examine them,” he says.

One weekend day during the pandemic, Basirat attended a patient, only to find out it was his elderly next door neighbour.

“I literally just opened the door and it was himself, and obviously, look, we did our best to see what we could do about it, but he couldn’t make it,” Basirat says. “It’s very hard, it’s very difficult.”

Of Ireland, he says: “It has given me lots of opportunity, I have progressed here from being a very junior doctor to a very senior member of my team. Both my kids were born here, it’s a very accommodating society.”

“Every day I compare, not everything, but most of the things, how they are here compared to how they are even in the States, because my sister lives in New York, so I compare things here to the States, back home to Pakistan, so it’s like when we talk to my mom, one of my sisters is in the States, one lives in Pakistan, and then they compare, I compare, how things are,” he says.

“I don’t express, but what I feel is Ireland, I think it’s better even compared to the States to work in.”

It is not all perfect though, he adds.

“Every system has some flaws, like our system also has some flaws, in terms of staffing, there’s not much staffing around, but I believe if you have lots of staff then the work will be done lesser, this is what I believe,” he says.

He received a plaque from the hospital to thank him for his work during the pandemic, for his commitment to the hospital.

Basirat received Irish citizenship in February 2024, and says his wife is in the process of doing the same.

“I’m a very ambitious person, and that’s why I think, the urge to learn, to explore, actually brought me here . . . I had all of the facilities back home. But at the end of the day, I still weigh the things and I made the best decision to come here to Ireland,” he says.

“The people I’ve worked with, I’m still working with, they’re real mentors, and I never found any mentor, like a true mentor back home.

“The real mentors I found here, and because of them I think I’m gaining all the opportunities . . . so this is something I’ve gained here in Ireland,” he says.

“Every day teaches you something, and hardships are good as well because you learn from them and you know how to prevent failures in future and then you become more strong.”

After a number of years in Ireland, Basirat has adopted the habit of repeatedly saying goodbye when hanging up the phone: “You want to say bye to someone, and you’re like okay, byebyebyebyebyebye,” he laughs.

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

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O'Donoghue is an Irish Times journalist