A 64-YEAR-OLD Yorkshire greyhound fanatic is still on track with his happiness goal after taking his most profitable “gamble” by moving to South-East Clare.
Terence Roberts has written a new book “All Because of Daisy” initially for his family and close friends to help explain why he left them to come to live in Ireland and why he stayed.
Thanks to his new environment and eye-opening experiences, the retired probation officer is making sense of his own life, his past, present and future.
The book chronicles the characters, people, culture and community he has fallen in love with in Ireland.
Terence was born in Ruthin, North Wales, but grew up in the old industrial heartlands of West Yorkshire after moving there at the age of four.
After joining West Yorkshire Probation Service as a volunteer in the mid 1980s, he later qualified as a probation officer at the University of Huddersfield and then worked for more than 25 years in Merseyside, West Yorkshire and Limerick City.
Moving to O’Briensbridge at the age of 50 to work in Limerick City, he recently retired and continues to live in the Clare village with two retired greyhounds, horses and donkeys.
“I started the book ten years ago, it was completed eight years ago and I did nothing with it until recently.
“It is a blow-in’s perspective of Ireland. It is about having the courage to take a leap when you get in to your comfort zone when you get older. I came to Ireland looking for that change and dream.
“Until I came I didn’t really understand the difference and it was what I really needed.
“Hopefully, it will encourage people to have the confidence to pursue their dreams when they get older. This was the best decision I ever made.
“I am Welsh man with a Yorkshire accent, washed up and have been in Ireland for 14 years after moving over in 2008.
“I had split up with my long term partner about a year before my mother died so I had a somewhat free rein, apart from my family in North Wales.
“I wanted to explain to my family this is why I left and this is why I stayed. When they started to come and visit, they soon found out why I had made the move,” he explains.
A passionate greyhound racing enthusiast, he decided to visit his new pup that was bred by the late Lar Burke in Cappawhite in 2004. Lar bred and reared the pup and invited Terence to see him by spending a few days in Ireland.
“The pup was owned by myself and my mother. I had never been to Ireland so I decided to come over and see the pup called Daisy. It was from those two days I fell in love with the prospect of coming to live in Ireland.
“In the following few years, I used to visit Ireland for a few weeks touring around taking in greyhound and horse racing. I promised myself if the opportunity ever arose, I would live here. I just felt there is something here for me, which is what the book is all about.
“When I first came to Ireland in 2004 and went greyhound racing in Limerick Stadium, I met Mary Crotty.
“When I came back in 2008 and had a choice of where to work, I chose Limerick City. In November 2008, John and Mary asked me if I wanted to look after their house for a period.
“They thought I would only be staying for a few weeks. Fourteen years later, I am still here.
“When I moved over to life in Ireland in 2008, I couldn’t drive. My friend from Yorkshire drove me over here with a bag of clothes, a couple of suits and two greyhounds. That was the gamble.”
He is now renting a house on the outskirts of O’Briensbridge from the Crottys, and is very grateful for all the support and help they have given him.
He believes that some local people who read his book may not fully appreciate the beauty of their surroundings and the great sense of community spirit, having grown up in the area.
“Irish people take the small things for granted. I lived for 46 years in Yorkshire, but I can never remember speaking to a bus driver. In Ireland, you get to form relationships with the bus driver and they know your name. When you go for a walk here, people talk to you.
“I think if you are an Irish man who goes abroad and then comes back, you can see what I am talking about,” he outlines.
The rural lifestyle and the people are the key factors that helped him make the life-changing move.
Even though his mobility has been reduced, he loves going to the rear of his house “looking into heaven” studying nature and animals.
Terence was living in urban Yorkshire when he bought Daisy, the greyhound, as a five-month old pup in 2004.
“I had been in greyhound racing since 1998. I have a real passion for greyhound racing and have two retired greyhounds in my front room.
“The best people I ever met have been in greyhound racing. They are the most caring enthusiastic people, despite what some people might question. I had got seven or eight greyhounds prior to Daisy, she was just the next one.
“Most of the dogs I had bought had come from Ireland, but I had never been over to Ireland to visit.
“Daisy raced 41 times. On the last occasion we received a call from the track at Sheffield from Jane Houfton, the trainer. Daisy had broken her leg, a very bad break, and it was unlikely that she would survive. Thankfully, after an operation she survived and came home.
“She sits behind me in the chair, right now, keeping my back warm and my heart warmer,” he states.
Asked about alleged doping and ill treatment of greyhounds in RTE’s Prime Time Investigates programme, he stresses anyone who is involved in any of this illegal activity should be fully prosecuted through the courts.
“If there is any skulduggery in the greyhound industry, these people need to be prosecuted and locked up. Any greyhound should have a long life before, during and after racing,” he explains.
Shortly after getting his first job at the age of 15, he bought two whippets – small greyhounds. He used to race whippets and when he got older he pledged to purchase a greyhound.
“When I was 40, I met an old school friend who worked as a bookmaker at Newmarket Races. He was into greyhound racing and wanted to get rid of a dog.
“I offered to buy it, but he didn’t want money and gave it to me on the proviso I looked after it when it retired,” he recalled.
In his book, he states his “life is painted in colour again” as he can see many things differently for the first time. Looking after his two retired greyhounds, he really appreciates his beautiful surroundings.
“Tonight, I sit on the stone in the far corner of Crotty’s field, feet away from the murmuring river and miles away from my working day.
“Autumn colours provide glowing make-up for the trees and the dampened, thick grass freshens the air as it always does. Daisy and Casey rest nearby in the middle of their evening stroll and their happiness is as obvious as mine.
“I am as free as I could ever wish to be. I have found an appreciation of life and contentment itself. My existence is simple and yet it is my most prized possession.
“Yes, I owe much to that very first journey to Ireland to see my beloved Daisy. However, it is because of Ireland itself, the people and their way of life, that I stay,” he concludes.