Despite the economic hard times 20,000 Irish emigrants return home every year a new Irish Times report has revealed.
In most cases it is because the former emigrants want to raise their kids among extended family members. Some, however, end up with mixed feelings.
Migration researcher Dr Caitríona Ní Laoire from University College Cork says raising kids is the main reason and cites her own experience.
“I moved to Boston in 1986. The majority of Irish people I moved with and became friendly with have moved home,” she says. “People stayed in their early 20s and 30s. They had a great time travelling and then, when they settled down and got married, bit by bit, they went home.”
The Times reported on Eibhlis Connaughton (37) and her husband Diarmuid Collins (38) who came from Toronto last year. “Both our Canadian and Irish family and friends questioned our decision. Why were we going against the grain? Why were we leaving a country that Irish people were desperately trying to get into?”
“The birth of our daughter spurred us on. We realised fast that we definitely wanted to bring her up in Ireland surrounded by her family,” Connaughton says.
“The strength of that feeling was quite overwhelming. And, while there were so many negatives associated with our return, that overriding feeling endured.
“We spent many agonising, sleepless nights weighing up the options. It boiled down to good jobs versus family, friends and strong community. In the end we felt that we should take the risk and go while the momentum was with us.
“However, there was one group of people who understood and supported our decision – older Irish women who lived in Canada for most of their adult lives never questioned us. In fact, many of them encouraged us to go. Many of them related stories of the loneliness of bringing up children in a foreign country, elderly parents back in Ireland, weakening ties with friends. But we definitely feel we’ve made the right decision even though it is an adjustment.”
Alan and Sarah Daly however miss their Canadian life. “We miss it every day. We have a quality of life there that just isn’t comparable at all. My salary was six figures, which it isn’t in Ireland. We had four distinct seasons. We never saw any crime. If Sarah wanted to get a subway home at 1am, we wouldn’t blink on it.
“When we were there we were voluntary emigrants, but as we got closer to leaving, we saw a lot of angry emigrants who didn’t want to be there and hated everything about it and didn’t make any effort to integrate.”
Clare Waldron (52) retuned from Bosotn after 30 years .”I’m in shock at a lot of things,” she says. “The price of everything and the rain is killing me. I got lost coming home from the Dundrum Town Centre though I’m from Dublin.
“But it is great to be back home and to be involved with my family and rugby again. It is great to be among Irish people. There is no one like the Irish.
“We whinge like hell, but we’re great craic. Irish people get it; Americans love us but they don’t get us.”