Then and now: the tyranny of distance or the 3 year rule?

Two recent Irish Times “Generation Emigration” articles struck me as quite astute and slightly poignant too. They referred to the zone into which people seem to cross over after about 3 years away from Ireland, which is all the more pronounced for those living in Australia or New Zealand. Being so far away, travel back to the other side of the world is so costly and time-consuming that it is not always feasible.

In my experience – one which I describe in TWB as I came into my third year in the country – many people entered a strange mental “place” after two years away. They often appeared to close up into themselves and act a little “odd”. This was all the more noticeable among those unable to return home on holidays for financial or visa reasons (go ask any Irish illegal in the States and hear what their opinion will be).

Nowadays skype does make the world smaller but it doesn’t fully compensate for having a loved one in the same room as you. However, it is much better than the “worlds apart” that really did exist in the pre-internet age.

Book cover - "The Tyranny of Distance - How distance shaped Australia's history"

Perhaps it’s not for nothing that one of the most famous books about Australia is entitled “The Tyranny of Distance” (1966). Now, distance is more accurately reflected not in physical space but in time. But read the articles below and judge for yourself.

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