CAS­SAN­DRA’S DREAM

When Cassie Stokes left Ire­land for Canada four years ago, she al­ways dreamed of re­turn­ing as one of the ‘Xpose’ girls, says Sarah Caden. That dream en­dured, while so much else in Cassie’s life al­tered in her time away. Now back in Ire­land, and work­ing on

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - DIFFERENT STOKES -

Any re­turn­ing emi­grant will tell you that com­ing home to Ire­land is never ex­actly as they imag­ined. It’s a bit like re­unit­ing with an ex. They’ve changed. Yo u ’ v e changed. Some­times the changes mean you just don’t fit any more. And some­times those changes make things bet­ter.

Cassie Stokes, who re­turned to Ire­land less than two months ago, af­ter four years away, says she’s “madly in love” with her na­tive Dublin. She’s walk­ing around with a grin on her face all the time, she says, in her ac­cent that has a strong Cana­dian twang mixed into its south Co Dublin soft­ness. That mid-At­lantic qual­ity, says Cassie, got her a lot of voice-over work in Canada, where she lived un­til very re­cently, be­fore re­turn­ing, via Lon­don, to Dublin and her “dream job” on TV3’s

When she left Ire­land, four years ago, Cassie had a fan­tasy about re­turn­ing to a job pre­sent­ing the teatime en­ter­tain­ment show. “I thought if I got back be­fore I was 30,” says Cassie, now aged 28, “I’d have a chance.”

She went away imag­in­ing how it would be to re­turn home as the new girl, but, back then, Cassie Stokes didn’t imag­ine

Xpose. Xpose

that she’d come home and be the gay new

girl. She went away. She changed. But Ire­land changed too, Cassie be­lieves, and if she is, for now, some­thing of a poster girl for young gay Irish women, then that’s fine too. She didn’t see it com­ing, but it feels good.

“You know,” says Cassie, “I have come so far from be­ing the per­son who left here a few years ago. And I think you have to go through that kind of big change to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that you’re cel­e­brat­ing it. And just talk­ing about it, openly talk­ing about be­ing gay, is cel­e­brat­ing. I saw my­self on the front of one of the mag­a­zines last week,

Xpose

and I re­ally re­alised how far I’ve come and how proud I am of that.”

We’re sit­ting in the sun­shine out­side the Union Cafe in Dublin’s Mount Mer­rion, di­rectly op­po­site the play­ground in Deer­park. Cassie lives nearby. Cassie has al­most al­ways lived nearby. “This is my stomp­ing ground,” she says, ges­tur­ing ex­pan­sively and laugh­ing.

Cassie’s par­ents came from nearby — Taney and Church­town — and she spent her early years around there. When she was about three years old, she, her par­ents and her younger sis­ter Alex em­i­grated to Canada. When Cassie was “10 or 11”, she and Alex re­turned to Dublin with their

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