Dublin 4 Diaspora: Fish and chips in Buenos Aires

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Many Irish people nowadays go to live abroad due to financial pressures, but Susan Kennedy’s journey began just as the Celtic Tiger was starting to roar. “I left Ireland in 1995 when I completed my degree at UCD. There was no master plan, just a desire to see more of the world, so off I went to San Francisco at the age of 22.”

Growing up in the Sydney Parade area of Sandymount, emigration is a near-tradition in her family, “I am the fourth of six children, half of whom still live in Dublin and the other half have emigrated.”

After 11 years in San Francisco, Susan moved to New York to live with her sister Lucy, who had studied journalism at Columbia University. Susan eventually settled in Buenos Aires, where she has lived for the past four years.

No matter where she has been, however, she has always found that the Irish are well-loved. “When people ask me where I’m from and I tell them Ireland, it always elicits a positive reaction.

Obviously in the US there is such a strong bond with Ireland, with staggering numbers of people who have some Irish blood in them.”

Along with her Argentinian partner Marcelo Liska, Susan opened up Buenos Aires’ first fish and chip shop in 2013. “The restaurant is called Chipper and we consciously decided to give it an Irish flavour,” even going as far as naming one of their desserts the Martello Tower, “a name, less inspired by James Joyce and more inspired by my frequent sweet purchases from Mrs Jones and Mrs Edgely in the tower on Sandymount Strand.”

Susan keeps in touch with her Irish roots with the help of the local Irish Embassy, which, “does a great job of keeping the local community informed of Irish cultural events.” It has even helped the couple with their business. The 2014 St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Buenos Aires were especially important for Susan and Marcelo, when a stand at the event helped them to, “introduce the fish and chips to the masses… it was an amazing success!”

Susan still manages to make it back to Ireland about once a year – and may one day return to live – but for the time being her plans are firmly set in Buenos Aires. “Although I have greatly enjoyed every city I have lived in, none of them felt like ‘home’ in the same way as Dublin. Marcelo and I have definitely talked about Ireland as a possibility in the future. We are committed to Buenos Aires for the next few years at least, especially as we just opened a restaurant here. Our hope is that we will be able to open a few Chippers in Buenos Aires in the coming years.“

Pictured: Sandymount native, Susan Kennedy and her Argentinian partner Marcelo Liska at their Buenos Aires fish and chip shop.
Photo by Jocelyn Mandrake.

By Aimée MacLeod