From Cluj to Irish culture

Ciprian Birsan, 50, left his home in Cluj, Romania, almost 20 years ago to create a new life in the Reeks District, partly inspired by his love of Irish alternative rock music. He now runs his own company Sandwill IT Solutions as a technical project manager consultant. He is married to Simona and they have two children, Andrei, 14, and Maria, 10.

It’s not everyone that finds their love of music partly inspired them to move to a different country… but that’s what happened to Ciprian Birsan. 

“I’ll be honest… Back in the 1990s, we didn’t receive a lot of good news about Ireland back home in Romania,” he explains when asked about what he knew of Ireland before he decided to move here in his late 20s. “But I was always curious about Irish culture. I was a fan of progressive music and I loved the Pogues. Then in the 1990s, U2’s career really took off and Irish shows like Riverdance were everywhere. When the chance came to move to Ireland, it made it much easier to make the move.”

At the time, Ciprian was in a well-paid job as a software consultant for an American firm and had no real need to leave his home country, but he was sure there was more to discover in the world beyond Romania’s borders. “I’d thought about working abroad, so I speculatively uploaded my CV to the internet as there was no LinkedIn back then, of course. It was picked up by someone at Fexco, and eventually, I was offered a job. It was a good job, in a country that I wanted to discover more of… so I decided to pack my bags…. 19 years later and here I am. Still here!”

The dream move didn’t get off to the best of starts, however. Despite harsh winters at home, Ciprian’s arrival on a grey day in blustery February came somewhat as a shock. “It was grey and raining hard for what seemed like days. I did wonder what I’d done at first,” he recalls. “But things soon got better. Fexco was a young company at the time and many of my colleagues were a similar age. We got along great and I was made to feel very welcome.”

When he met wife, Simona, a few years later, the newlyweds decided to make their life in Killorglin rather than returning to their home country. “She studied art at college and was an actress, so her opportunities to work here were probably fewer than at home, but as we were about to start a family, she was happy to be a mum for a few years. Now the children are growing up, she’s decided to re-train in event management and is studying on a course at IT, Tralee,” Ciprian says. “Both her and the kids love it here. In fact, the children probably consider themselves more Irish than Romanian now.”

While the family love to head outdoors taking part in regular walks around the Reeks and Ciprian enjoys a regular jog on Rossbeigh Strand, home is firmly in Killorglin itself. “We love the countryside but we come from Cluj which is a city of 300,000 people, so we still like to have the life of a town around us. The kids can walk to school, we can go out and socialise, and the great outdoors are just a short drive away,” he explains. 

Also a short drive away is the chance for Ciprian to indulge in a new passion. “I’ve recently decided to start playing golf and am really enjoying it,” he says. There are four courses all within 15 minutes from our home, so there’s plenty of choice. In Romania, I would have to drive for more than an hour and even then, the courses would only be open during the warmer months. I really have no excuse not to get better…”


Read more stories from our Reflections on the Reeks series

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