Almost 70,000 Irish workers left Irish shores during 2010

Over 5,000 Irish men and women are leaving the beleaguered island every month as emigration takes hold once again, a BBC documentary has revealed.

The village of Gneeveguilla in County Kerry has been hit particularly hard.

Although the tiny rural village only has a population of little over two hundred people, emigration has hit it so hard that the local GAA chairman is worried about the team’s collapse because so many of the key players will have emigrated in the near future.

The collapse of the construction industry in Ireland, as well as other economic factors, have jointly contributed to a renewed push to leave the country as young and old alike cannot find any prospects on the ‘old sod’.

Liam Murphy  of Murphy's Trailers  told the BBC how his sister was one of the emigrants and how she recently called him and said she had found herself in a bar in Brisbane with no less than 42 other young people from the immediate area.

Three young local men, identified as Sean, John and Patrick are also all planning to join them, in the hope that they can find work and success abroad.

The growing trend of emigration - which has now picked up a frightening pace - is contributing to both a sense of sadness and despair in Ireland, as once again the nation’s best and brightest head for the emigrant airplanes in search of a brighter future abroad.

"It'll be tough enough leaving. When our friends left it was tough as well, but you have to understand there's nothing for us here," Sean told the British broadcaster, “It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Get out there and live for yourself,” he said.

Two of Gobnait Carmody’s three children have emigrated to Australia. She says that it’s her son she missed the most, though fears that he will never come back from the new world.

"He's very, very happy and he knows how things are here now and there's no point coming back here," she says. "He's a worker, and I wouldn't like to think of him lying about in bed all day and being on the dole," she said.

The news is hardly surprising.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI), Ireland’s foremost think-tank, recently estimated that 120,000 will have emigrated in 2010 and 2011 combined, if the rate continues at its present pace, while even the political class are losing hope that the emigrants will ever return.

"My fear is a lot of them won't come back," said local  Fine Gael TD, Tom Sheahan. "I don't believe that our economy will turn around sufficiently in the next five to six years to bring them back," he said.