, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 29, 2013

'I was looking for opportunity'

Editor’s note: Thanksgiving is a time when many people remember the early days of this country and those who arrived to make new lives here.

Today, we continue our holiday series and share a profile of a local immigrant who came to this country and what she found:

NEWBURYPORT — Historical lore from past generations suggests that immigrants from Ireland came to the United States to flee famine or unemployment, but Aine Greaney recalls that she was fully employed and had access to a warm, comfortable hearth when she decided to wander here.

“I was a teacher in a parochial school and could have held that position for a long time,” said Greaney, a native of County Mayo. “My family was there.

“But I was a voracious reader and perhaps because of that, I had my eye over the border. I thought there were other opportunities out there. I decided to find out.”

Greaney, today a director of communications for Lahey Health Behavioral Services, crossed the pond in 1986 to live in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

She was 24, and arrived with $200. But a strong spirit counts for a lot when traveling, and she was able to stay with friends, work in the restaurant industry and get used to her new country,

“Most immigrants don’t realize how big the U.S. is,” she said with a smile. “You arrive and think you can just hop to New Orleans or San Francisco, but you realize that it takes money and travel time to see the whole country.

“Also, newcomers who know the U.S. only through Hollywood pictures realize it’s so much different.”

Greaney was one of five children; her other four siblings have stayed. Her parents visited here but did not consider uprooting.

“I’ve thought about why I came and my siblings didn’t,” said Greaney, who speaks with but a slight accent. “By the time I left, three had married and bought houses, so they had found their own ‘homes.’

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