Debate: are emigrants abandoning Ireland, or has it abandoned them?
We are not immune to this recession. We may not be struggling as badly financially, but we are making sacrifices.
I miss seeing the younger members of my family grow up. I’m at the age where friends are getting married and having children, and I’m missing all of that, too. It feels lonely sometimes, but I know I have made my choice.
One thing is for sure: Dubai might be where I live now but it will never be home. I will fly the tricolour anywhere I please because being Irish is who I am and I’m fiercely proud of it. Just like generations before me who flocked to Liverpool, Boston, Sydney and elsewhere in search of better opportunities during tough times in Ireland, I will hold dear the culture I love.
CLARE HERBERT (25), now lives in Dublin
Forced emigration is always a tragedy. The thousands of Irish mothers and fathers who’ve waved off their offspring at our airports can attest to that. I frequently joke that I’d love one night out in Sydney, since I have more friends there than here.
The narrow-minded perspective of the recent Ireland Abandoners Facebook page proved surprisingly popular before it was taken down last week. It is wrong to criticise our emigrants, many of whom were forced to leave due to economic necessity. I would certainly never consider an emigrant as an Ireland abandoner. Indeed, I’ve spent about a year working on various short-term contracts overseas.
There is a group of young people who are choosing to stay in Ireland and embrace the challenge and responsibility of building a better future for the country. In many cases, it would be wiser for us to go. If I emigrated, I would earn more, have better opportunities for career development, better health, education and social systems for my future children, and nicer weather.
But, as it has been through the generations, the emotional pull to Ireland remains profound. I want to be at home, to live in the country that educated me, and to be a very small part of the solution to our national problems.
There’s little value in re-hashing the argument that older generations have lived at our expense. Although I think many objective commentator will agree that the under-30s will work harder and longer for less money than our parents.
Despite or perhaps because of this, social innovation, young engagement and entrepreneurship is flourishing among the under-30s.
Generation Y live in a world that our grandparents couldn’t have imagined. Consequently, we have a sense of personal and societal confidence, unlike our predecessors. The vibrant entrepreneurial community is testament to the number of young people willing to take a punt on their own idea.
Not everyone has the opportunity to stay. Writing this, I’m conscious that I may have to emigrate some day. No one is immune from emigration. I want to build my life here and am committed to working hard to make it happen. But, I might fail.
Each individual must try to strike a balance between one’s patriotic duty and one’s personal desires to live a full and happy life.