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26 October, 2016 |
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A minute in Tonga | Print |  Email
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Christy and Trish O'Sullivan are from Dublin and Limerick but they met in Zimbabwe, married in Ireland, have two Kerry-born children, moved to Malawi, are now enjoying the relaxed atmosphere in Tonga, but missing family and friends - the nearest known Irish person is 1.5 hours flight away.




Where are you from?


Christy, Ben, Molly & Trish
Christy, Ben, Molly & Trish

Trish is from Limerick, I'm from Dublin and the Kids Molly (3.5) & Ben (2) were born in Tralee



When did you leave, and why?

We first left Ireland in the eighties, to the UK with the million or so others. In the 90's we went to work for APSO in Zimbabwe. The lure of APSO was a bit of altruism mixed with adventure I think. Thats were we met, Trish was teaching, I was a District Engineer. Left Zimbabwe in 1997 to study back in Ireland, got married and had the kids. Worked in Ireland until 2000 and got itchy feet again. Took a leave of absence to do a job with a British NGO in Malawi. This ended in June 2002... on to Tonga



What brought you to Tonga? What do you do there?

I am a Civil Engineer working on an EU funded programme of Harbour and other Infrastructure. We were wrapping up in Malawi and this job sort of just came up.....



What do you miss most about Ireland?

Family & Friends. Trish misses Shopping. Availability of goods. Where we live in Tonga is very isolated.



What do you like most about Tonga?

Beaches, scenery, activity stuff (diving, sailing etc..), very friendly people, safety (in Africa security was a major concern, here the risk is minimal).



How has the experience been for the kids? Is your family life much different than it would be at home?


Ben poses for the camera
Ben poses for the camera

Very different. School is very basic, language & cultural differences have made making friends a challenge. They miss family, grandparents etc..., but they spend a lot of afternoons at the beach!



What's a typical night out like in Tonga?

Quiet meal and a few beers, theres always local dancing or 'event'



Are there any other Irish in Tonga?

Not on this island, there are two we have heard of on the main island (hour & half flying) - and one of them is leaving in January



What differences between Ireland and Tonga do you find most striking?

Weather, it is very hot & humid this time of year and availability of goods.



Does the Emigrant help you keep in touch with home?



A seasonal one: How is Christmas celebrated in Tonga?

Church, with lots of singing. Family 'picnics' (a Tongan Picnic usually involves a roasted whole pig!). Generally a very family oriented time.

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