When Erin Brumwell was studying for a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition in the small Gaelic town of Antigonish outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, little did she know that she would end up living in another Gaelic town thousands of miles away a decade later. But that’s what happened in October 2019, when she and her fiancé moved to Tralee in County Kerry to start a new life together.
From Barrie to Barrow
Originally from Barrie, Ontario, Erin works as a Delivery Manager with I Am Here, a division of Kerry-based PulseLearning. I Am Here is an evidence-based, global initiative that trains employees to become “Mental Wellness Ambassadors” and signpost existing support services in their workplace or community.
“I’m combining tech with my number one passion, which is mental health,” explains Erin. Her passion for mental health grew from an interest in psychology and people, which she developed in university. It served as a great foundation for her early career in sales with Canadian fitness giant GoodLife Fitness and later with a series of startups. She then went on to work in client management and implementation at League, a platform for employees to engage with their health, lifestyle, and benefit programs.
Not long before joining League, she met her fiancé, Eamonn, who is from the Spa in Tralee. She visited Ireland for the first time in December 2014 and has been coming to Ireland regularly ever since. The laid-back lifestyle and sense of community reminded her of her time in Nova Scotia, which she loved, so moving to Ireland seemed a natural transition.
“When there is an option like Ireland to live your life, that stares you in the face,” she reveals. “I always said to Eamonn that whenever he wanted to move to Ireland, we’d do it.”
The Best of Both Worlds
It was not a difficult decision. Erin had done her research and knew there was a strong tech presence in Ireland. “Career will always come second to mental health and way of life, but there was comfort in the fact that there was a tech hub here.” This meant she could enjoy a laid-back lifestyle while still working in a job that she had built her career toward.
The prospect of moving to somewhere like Dublin never appealed to the couple. “Eamonn and I always said that if we moved to Dublin, we’d get the same thing we had in Toronto—Dublin is crazy hectic, and the cost of living is no different to Toronto. We love to be able to go to the beach, go for hikes, and go for drives. When you are in the city, it’s not the same thing. Here, we can go for a drive to Fenit or Barrow after work; we never had anything like that in Canada.”
I Am Here
Although career progression was not her main reason for moving to Kerry, Erin’s role at I Am Here turned out to be a great fit. I Am Here’s messaging is very similar to her own philosophy. Having suffered from mental illness herself about 12 years ago, she is aware of the difficulties surrounding mental health.
“Through no fault of their own, people often don’t know how to offer help in the right way. Nor are they comfortable to ask for help and support when needed for their own mental health and wellbeing. Evidently, a culture where ‘It’s OK not to feel OK, and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help’ is quickly becoming table stakes not only for job seekers but also at an organisational level to retain employees and create a culture of inclusivity.”
Family is the only reason Erin would have stayed in Canada. Apart from that, differences like Canadian summers and the availability of coffee creamer in the supermarket pale into comparison with the lifestyle in Kerry.
“In Canada, we were always waiting for the weekend, whereas in Kerry, we are always in a state of contentment—and that’s hard to come by in this world.”
Erin also highlights the reception she received in Kerry. “I’ve never felt so welcome anywhere in my life! During my first visit to the local pub, nearly every single person took the time to genuinely get to know me. Kerry is the most welcoming place, hands down and the sense of community is unmatched. Apart from that, it gives you the best of both worlds. You get on with your job, and your overall lifestyle means you can enjoy each day.”