I answered with a curious tone, as a familiar voice on the other end of the phone greeted me. It was one of my college friends, John, calling after he had finished a hard days work in Gurley, Australia.
John who is from Portarlington, previously worked as a sub editor for the Irish Independent, now finds himself working on a farm in New South Wales as part of his visa extension for his 2nd year down under. According to my Laois friend, the small village was full of Irish people, all in a similar bid to extend their time abroad.
According to the latest figures provided from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), more than 42,000 people have left Ireland since January 2009.
In last week’s pre-budget assessments, the government estimated 100,000 will leave Irish shores by 2014.
But instead of devising strategies to create employment for the countless numbers who are leaving, the Irish government has instead factored the high levels of emigration into their next years figures.
The Minister for Enterprise Batt O'Keeffe recently pointed out that live register figures had dropped for the second month in a row.
Which he noted was a signal that the economy was beginning to bounce back. However what he neglected to point out what the obvious effect mass emigration has had on the declining numbers signing on the live register.
A column in yesterday's Irish Independent by Declan O'Brien, pointed out that instead of being concerned about the high numbers of people leaving Ireland it seems the government are hopeful that instead it will enable them to balance the books.
The latest RED C survey published in the Irish Sun yesterday, revealed that almost 40 percent of people polled said they knew a close relative or friend who was forced to emigrate as a result of the downturn.
The return of the 1980's is upon us as highly skilled Irish citizens leave the country in droves. But instead of lamenting the loss of a generation it seems the government is breathing a sigh of relief. One less dole payment to process, one less person waiting on line in A& E, as thousands leave Irish shores behind.