They will enhance those nations, economically and culturally, while the majority of Irish who do make it to the U.S. will work in bars and on construction sites, their potential marginalized by their status as illegal immigrants.
I doubt the Irish in New York will ever fade away, visa barriers or not, but those who do make it over here will be shackled and restrained from their vast potential, unlike the Irish entrepreneurs of the 1980s who to this day continue to thrive in New York – but who also didn’t have to face the facts of life as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S, post-9/11.
It is said that Ireland’s greatest export is her people, a commodity which for so long had proved to be extrememly adaptable to new markets, tasks and environments.
Unburdened by Ireland’s complex history and institutionalised factors holding us back at home we often thrive in a new environment.
Yet, in the Celtic Tiger era we were staying at home, and emigration was a memory. Our highly skilled and driven workforce was bringing the jobs to Ireland, rather than chasing them across the globe.
Ireland became home to a collection of the world’s largest software and technology corporations. The days of long lines at the social welfare office and long goodbyes in Dublin Airport were now like a bleak preamble, a first act to set the scene for the long overdue good times.
Those good times were all too fleeting, gone seemingly as quickly as they arrived.
With unemployment expected to reach 14.5% in 2012 and tough austerity measures and further Euro zone instability to come, Ireland offers very little, beyond emotional attachment, to keep those in their early or mid-twenties at home.
The unemployment rate for men under the age of 25 in Ireland has risen to 45%, up from 10% just a few years ago. To describe the situation as bleak feels like underselling the depth of Ireland’s troubles.
What is worse still is that the difficulties may only yet be beginning. As heartbreaking as it is, Ireland is, for many of us, no longer the place to make a life.
With all of this in mind I expect my stay at home will be a short one, probably a few months. I hold out hope of a job, and visa, offer in New York, but it seems far more likely that I will join the large group of Irish in London and work to find myself a career there.
My year in New York has been incredible, and it is a year that I could never forget. From the biting blizzards of last winter to the intense, suffocating heat of the summer, and all of the moments of new discoveries and adventure which litter my memories of this great city.
From the brownstones of Brooklyn to the majesty of Yankee Stadium, from the spectacle of the Midtown Manhattan skyline at night to the brilliant chaos of Chinatown -- these are places and memories I will never let drift too far from my thoughts.
I will also never forget the bond between all of the Irish here. At home we are divided along county lines. Old rivalries die hard in many respects, but here we are all Irish immigrants, a fact which carries with it an unspoken respect for one another.
I will always have fond memories of my time here, and the people that I have met. I came to New York expecting a great city, but what I found was much more -- almost another world unlike any I had encountered before.
It is a place with a rich diversity and a sense of potential discoveries around every street corner. From my first days here, wandering around Midtown Manhattan like an overawed tourist, to my last days where I now, somewhat, know the inner workings of this great maze of people and places, it has been a constant journey of discovery, growth and excitement.
I hope that I can someday return, to build on the work I have started in the last year. Through hard work and perseverance I, like all of the other Irish who have come here, have carved a space for myself in New York, however small it may be.
I will board my flight on Thursday night hoping that someday I can return, and build on this to carve not just a space for myself, but a life.
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