BEING able to peroudly declare I’m Irish makes me feel complete, declared Scots man Paul Di Rollo who was recently made an Irish citizen.
Paul, who runs Glentree Furniture in Dunmanway moved here in 2009 with his wife Evelyn and their two young children.
A third generation Italian, he grew up in Edinburgh and moved to London in the early 2000s where he worked as an actor and met Evelyn, a native of Dunmanway.
‘With a young family, London wasn’t a great place to be so we moved here and set up the business,’ said Paul whose family has since grown to three kids.
After marrying Evelyn in 2016, he took the first steps to citizenship in 2018.
This is an automatic entitlement after three years of marriage but Paul didn’t want to wait that long, so he applied on the basis of being a resident here and had to show he had lived here continuously for five of the nine previous years. There was also a cost of around €1,000 required.
At a ceremony in Killarney at the end of last year he was declared an Irish citizen and he now holds an Irish passport.
He admits that Brexit was a factor in the timing of his decision: ‘I was ashamed of the UK’s decision to detach from the EU, especially after Scotland voted unanimously to remain.’
But it was more than that: ‘I’ve a lot of respect for Irish people and for their culture. They’re a well-educated, talented and agile nation and I wanted to embrace that.’
His citizenship status means he can now vote in referenda and presidential elections and he says he felt left out during the Repeal the 8th and the marriage equality campaigns.
‘There’s a feeling of inclusion now. And of course, like the Scots, the Irish are well known and well liked throughout the world. I’ve often had to correct people and say I’m Scottish and not English, but of course now I can say I’m Irish!’ he said.
Paul has got his tongue around a few words of Irish, but still struggles with the Irish accent.
‘My son was only here a few days and he had a West Cork accent. I’m still working on mine,’ he joked.