Ciara Kenny

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

Big weekend for emigration stories

Emigrant voting rights, major research findings, march for Jill Meaghar and Johnny Sexton’s struggle to settle in Paris: what you might have missed

Intending emigrants investigate opportunities in Australia at the Working Abroad Expo over the weekend. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 10:23


With the publication of the UCC Emigre project report, the Working Abroad Expo in Dublin, and the Constitutional Convention meeting to discuss voting rights for the Irish abroad, it was a big weekend for emigration stories. Here’s a round-up of everything that happened on over the past few days:

Una Mullally responds to the UCC Emigre findings in the newspaper today, where she says  that leaving aside economic necessity, we have to face the fact that a lot of emigration is opportunistic. If you missed them on Friday, read the full news report on the main findings, and a feature on the project’s discoveries about the lived experiences of emigrants once they move abroad. An editorial in Saturday’s paper calls for a “considered policy response from Government” on the “depressing reality” of the “brain-drain” from Ireland.

Those who are still here are not being forgotten – on Saturday, Noel Whelan called for a study of the impact on emigration on those left behind, again mentioning the findings of the UCC study. “Emigration is again having a dramatic economic and social impact. While those leaving have no weight in our political system, once gone they leave behind many who, bereaved by emigration, are likely to pack a significant political punch.”

Extending voting rights in presidential elections for Irish citizens abroad was the topic for discussion at the Constitutional Convention over the weekend. Of the 100 members, 78 voted in favour. Read the full report in today’s newspaper, and an analysis of the arguments for and against in Weekend Review.

There’s an interesting snapshot of 1980s emigration in the border region in a piece by Colm Toibin from 1987, when he interviewed the little-known Sean Quinn after a chance encounter.

What does it mean to be Irish, or to be attached to Ireland? The Irish Hospice Foundation asked Seamus Heaney, Colum McCann, Moya Doherty and Chris Hadfield, among a host of others, to contribute to its new book ‘The Gathering: Reflections on Ireland’. The Weekend Review had extracts.

Rugby player Johnny Sexton spoke to Paul Howard (the man behind Ross O’Carroll-Kelly) for the Magazine about the challenges of settling in Paris.

“You’d be offended by the stereotyping if you weren’t so bored.” Bernice Harrison was not impressed by Channel 4′s new comedy London Irish.

Massachusetts-based Irish writer Mary O’Donoghue has won The Irish Times ‘Legends of the Fall’ short story competition for a story about a middle-aged woman whose husband has died and whose son has emigrated to Australia. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne described it as “very sophisticated, witty, quirky writing, highly amusing, but, at heart, full of compassion for the plight of the people left behind in the emigration game”.

Thousands of people in Melbourne marched this weekend on the street where Irish woman Jill Meagher was abducted a year ago.