The postman didn’t need to ring twice on Monday with Damon’s Irish passport. We were ready. It gives him – and by extension, me – the right to stay living in France.
He’s entitled to Irish citizenship because his maternal grandparents were Irish.
“Last year, 200,000 Britons applied for Irish citizenship – a record high. This year, the figure is expected to be 30% higher still”
Damon’s grandfather died long before we got together, so I never got to meet him. I met his grandmother, though.
She had some rather old-fashioned views and, well, let’s just say my reception from her was decidedly chilly. She died more than 20 years ago and I never imagined I’d have reason to warm to her after her death.
Until the Brexit vote, that is.
When Britain’s gullible, its ignorant and its small-minded joined forces and won the referendum, it didn’t take us long to start wondering whether Damon’s heritage could be a lifeline.
And so began the search back through the archives for the paperwork he’d need.
Recording a birth in Ireland was a somewhat approximate process back in the early 1900s. Damon’s grandmother had three birthdays – the actual day of her birth, the day when her father went to market and registered her and the day of her baptism.
Which made finding her paperwork take time, but Damon got there in the end. Eventually, earlier this year, he was in a position to send off the proof.
Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t the only person to think of tracing their Irish ancestry.
Last year, 200,000 Britons applied for Irish citizenship – a record high. This year, the figure is expected to be 30% higher still.
“Damon doesn’t need a carte de séjour – and as the partner of an EU national, I should qualify for a five-year one”
Damon’s new identity makes an important difference to our lives here.
As UK nationals after Brexit, we’d have to prove a given monthly income to be able to stay – and we’d only get a carte de séjour for a year. If the first year of the cheese-and-wine business we’re about to launch were a bit slow, we’d run the risk of being deported.
Instead, Damon doesn’t need a carte de séjour – and as the partner of an EU national, I should qualify for a five-year one automatically. During that time, I’ll take French citizenship.
It’s not what either of us expected, but sometimes you simply have to do what you have to do.
As it happens, we’re in Montenegro this weekend, celebrating our friend Keeley’s birthday. So Damon got to use his new passport for the first time yesterday…