The Emigration Chronicles: A Personal Note.

It started with a class assignment. Told to do a feature piece on emigration, I did what any lazy journalism student would. I asked my my friends to help me out via Facebook. The response was overwhelming.

Upwards of twenty people got back to me to regale me with their experience of emigration thus far. There was an eclectic mix of stories. Some had prospered abroad, some found the going tough. Many have made themselves a home from home, and will find it hard to return to these shores. Some could not get on a homewards plane fast enough. I could not even begin to tell all of these stories, so I apologise for anyone who I have omitted from the chronicles.

It’s a sign of the times we live in that The Irish Times has an emigration blog which is afforded the same billing as their news and sports coverage on their website. Ireland is leaking its youth (and many older people) at a staggering rate. Rural GAA clubs are literally being decimated as their players leave in search for a better life abroad. I was lucky enough that the editor of Generation Emigration, the amazing Ciara Kenny, took one of my pieces for the blog. The rest of The Emigration Chronicles you will find posted below.

It is important for those abroad to realise that we at home have not forgotten you. While you may get homesick, we here get awaysick. You remain in our thoughts every single day and we toss wreaths at the feet of Mark Zuckerburg in reverence of the fact that we can maintain contact with you in a way unfathomable even a decade ago.

Family Photo. (L to R) Alan (me), Shane, Kevin (kneeling), our friend Kieran, Mike.

In August 2010, I moved in with Michael Considine, Shane Clifford and Kevin Bourke for our final year in the University of Limerick. Personally speaking, it was the best year of my life. Now, Kevin and myself reside in Galway undertaking masters degrees while Shane and Mike are half the world away in South Korea. This recession has made maintaining friendships that little bit harder, and has made me realise that the four years we all spent as a giant community or even family in and around Castletroy were that much more precious than we realised at the time.

Beneath The Irish Times article, some people have commented that the only reason many of Ireland’s young people leave is for life experience, not because they could not find a job here. That may be a fair point, but fails to take into account the undeniable fact that a chance to escape the nay-sayers and nihilism prevalent in this country is far too tempting for many. If you suffered from Seasonal Affected Disorder, wouldn’t you attempt to drag yourself to sunnier climes for the benefit of your health? In the same way, if you suffer from the recession blues, aren’t you well within your rights to spread your wings and escape?

In saying that, I have a deep and profound respect for people like Catriona Delaney. People who see it as their patriotic duty to remain within the confines of this island nation and see to it that it will be a country that emigrants will be happy and proud to return to. You can have nothing but admiration for those with the guts to see out these harsh times and drag Ireland out of these dark times.

As for me? It remains to be seen whether I’ll be among those who choose to escape, or among the resolute few who stay behind. The next few months will tell a lot. Either way, like all those I spoke to, I will never turn my back on my country. Like Ross and Rachel, myself and Ireland might take a break.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. And for the love of god do yourself a favour and visit Cian and Suzi’s food blog! Our Quirky Kitchen. Your stomach will thank you.

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