Anyone who has visited the west coast of Ireland might relate to the qualities that made Irish transplants Sean and Claire Treacy fall in love with Lake Forest. Those famous green hills and historic estates are hard to find in an American suburb, but Claire says from the minute they drove through Market Square, the city felt like home.
“I remember pulling in with the realtor on our home-finding trip, looking around and feeling a sense of awe and comfort,” says Claire, a native of County Sligo. She explains that she and County Galway-born husband Sean were transferred to the area in 2008 on an international assignment for Abbott Laboratories. “Moving here as a professional newly married couple, the thoughts of starting our family and setting up home here were realized quickly.”
After settling originally in east Lake Forest, Claire and Sean have moved to west Lake Forest with six-year-old Colm and the one-year-old twins, Erin and Gavin. Sean is now a vice president for human resources in Abbott’s Diagnostics Division while Claire works as a Senior Manager in Business Human Resources for AbbVie Operations.
Claire says the city has worked out so well for their busy family that she wants to get the word out about what a great place it is to live. In fact, she’s becoming something of a one-woman ambassador for Lake Forest—telling her new friends and co-workers about all the things they love about living here.
“It’s truly amazing to think of the culture, vibrancy, and various lifestyle offerings we have on our doorstep,” she says, adding: “From the day we arrived, we immediately felt welcomed and part of the community. Before I knew it, I was playing Bunco with neighbors and felt like a local.”
For example, in 2010, Claire stepped up to chair the American Cancer Relay for Life Event in Lake Forest, an experience that gave her a first glimpse into the Lake Forest Hospital where her son would be born a year later. With Colm now a student at the School of St. Mary, Claire enjoys the opportunity to read in the classroom or assist with school events.
Claire and Sean have also enthusiastically embraced the American holiday of Thanksgiving, a time that Claire says reminds her holidays spent at her grandmother’s historic hunting lodge in County Leitrim.
“The lodge quickly became the spot where I and some of my siblings and cousins would meet up for the summer months,” she says. “My grandmother was born and raised in the U.K. and so her style, eloquence, and the old English architecture that is prevalent in Lake Forest really speaks to me.”
Now, she views Thanksgiving as the opening event to their whole holiday season. Sean has two aunts who live in the area who the family often meets up for Thanksgiving.
“It has also become a time that family from Ireland have visited us—enjoying the beautiful fall weather, landscape, and seasonal events such as the local pumpkin festivals. We are expecting family to visit this year and looking forward to cooking the holiday turkey and ham with all the trimmings—many of which I like to add an Irish twist using Irish ingredients.”
And this is just one of many happy memories the family is making here in their new home.
“Through our work and personal network, we have a lot of colleagues and friends who live in the area. Having both family and friends adds a sense of belonging with many memorable experiences shared, such as the baby shower for our twins in the Deer Path Inn,” she adds. “These experiences not only leave a lasting memory, but you also build connections for future events.”
Claire says she will continue to sing the praises of Lake Forest to colleagues who are relocating to the area—especially those coming from Europe or other countries.
“Having experienced the life of an expat, we often share our experiences with others as they contemplate life in the suburbs of Chicago,” she explains. “What we tell our colleagues and friends is to come visit, see Lake Forest for yourselves as once you experience it, you won’t look back!”