Kelli will have an Irish Christmas

Malone is in a relationship with an Irish man, but the two are not married and he has yet to be divorced from his wife.

That gives Malone a very tenuous status, but, as it turns out, just enough of one to relish the prospect of an Irish Christmas.

"They allowed me to apply for de facto status with my partner and I was awarded a Stamp Four visa. So I can stay in the country, work without a permit, start a business," Malone told the Echo.

"We have to go in to see the gardai every September until my citizenship goes through, which I will apply for in May of next year. It will take about 18 months for that to be processed," said Malone, who often uses the Irish form of her family name, Maoileoin.

And even though her full time teaching prospects are still bleak, Malone is certain that she has made the right decision by staying in Ireland.

"With luck, we'll pull through. The Stamp Four has allowed me to find some part time work as a lecturer in Dublin, she said.

In addition, Malone is running her own tour business.

"It's just a relief to breathe again," said the Rhode Island native and Mullingar resident, who is a Fulbright Scholar with a PhD and three published books to her name.

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