Generation Emigration

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

‘The recession will end, but not all of us will be back’

Disillusioned with Ireland, 27-year-old Oisin Flanagan sees his future elsewhere

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 00:01

   

Oisin Flanagan

I left Ireland in the summer of 2010, on one of the more traditional routes, a ferry to Wales. After 18 months of fruitless job searching and having more ambition than standing in the notorious dole queue, I felt a great sense of relief as that ferry left Rosslare harbour.

Disillusioned is the word I would use to express what my view of Ireland has become in these recent years. Some people on these pages, and some of my friends included, would appeal for a more optimistic view of Ireland’s plight. But my personal experiences made me at first angry, and later cynical about Ireland’s ability to recover.

I am not the first generation of my family to tread the emigration trail, as my great-great grandfather left his home in the mid 1800s to join the British army and a chance at a better life. Whether he found it or not I’m not sure, all I do know is that he settled in Liverpool to become part of that city’s vibrant and enduring Irish community.

Generations on, my father relocated to Ireland from Liverpool to bring the Flanagan name home. But I am currently writing these words from London while my brother is comfortably settled beside a beautiful lake in Sweden. What grates me is the casual acceptance that my family’s story generates in Irish society.

Polls taken among the Irish emigrant community show the majority plan to return to Ireland one day for obvious reasons. It is their home and they want it to be their children’s home too. But our current crop of grey haired bench warmers in Leinster House don’t seem capable of envisaging a future where the plans of those emigrants can be fulfilled. Us emigrants can’t vote and we don’t have influence within the Bundesbank, so why bother with us? I would venture that the problem isn’t that the suits of the civil war parties and Labour believe in the wrong things, it is more that they don’t believe in anything.

I do hope those of my generation who have stayed behind will be able to be able to break the downward cycle. For those battling through the tough times I have nothing but admiration. This includes my good friend in Dublin who keeps a small business going despite the government doing its utmost to suck demand out of the local and national economy.

Recessions end, they always do. Maybe when Ireland emerges from this one, it will have a better economy and political system for it. Maybe the obsession with getting multinationals to install brass plates outside their Dublin “headquarters” for tax reasons and stuffing newspapers full of property porn will become a thing of the past. I hope so for the sake of all those who yearn for “home” and will return if there’s jobs to go back to.

As for me, well I am now engaged to girl from California and so it seems my future may take me even further away from Ireland’s shores.

Oisin Flanagan (27) is from Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare. He currently works in the internet technology sector in London.

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