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
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
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,
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