Ciara Kenny

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

Major study reveals true picture of Irish emigration

UCC’s Emigre report provides a fascinating insight into factors motivating emigrants to go and their lived experiences abroad

Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 09:20


University College Cork’s Emigre project publishes the results of their year-long study of Irish emigration this afternoon. There is enough detail in the final report to fill ten good articles, but unfortunately we only had space for two in the newspaper today.

The frontpage article (there’s a longer version of it online) outlines the main findings – that current emigrants are more educated than the general population (confirming the ‘brain drain’ theory), and that rural areas have been disproportionately affected by emigration, with one in four households seeing a member leave since 2006. What is also quite surprising is that almost half of all emigrants left full-time jobs behind.

The feature artice in the Life pages goes into more detail about the lived experiences of emigrants once they go. Would the findings reflect your own experience, or do you disagree with some of the conclusions? Let us know what you think.

Combining the results of 2,500 household questionnaires, surveys of 1,500 of emigrants online and 500 intending emigrants at working abroad jobs fairs, as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of Irish people who have left in recent years, the study is certainly, as it claims to be, the most representative of Irish emigration ever carried out.

As well as revealing the demographic breakdown of emigrants, including age, occupation, educational background and origin, it also explores their experiences of life abroad, intentions for the future, and attitudes to issues like voting rights for emigrants.

One of the most interesting findings that we had to leave out of either newspaper piece is that with the exception of Portugal, Irish people are still more likely to emigrate, per capita, than their counterparts in any other of the western euro zone countries hit hard by recession.

No doubt there will be plenty more findings to mull over in the coming weeks. This won’t be the last you will read about this research, on this blog at least.

The full report, which anyone with an interest in emigration should take the time to read, will be available on the UCC Emigre project website. To coincide with the launch, UCC is hosting a conference today examining past Irish emigration and current ‘recession’ emigration from southern Europe, which is being streamed live online here from 10.30am this morning. Emigrants around the world are invited to watch, listen and comment on the proceedings.

The Emigre project was funded by the Irish Research Council and is hosted by the Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century and the Department of Geography at University College Cork. Team members: Irial Glynn, Tomás Kelly and Piaras Mac Éinrí. To read more about the project, see Emigration may have yet to peak and Emotion associated with emigration cannot be represented by statistics.