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London's young Irish immigrants hopeful for a brighter future at networking event

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Ambassador Bobby McDonagh spoke of bilateral relationship,
and the young Irish experience in London, at Embassy do.
Ireland's latest crop of London-based emigrées convened for a night of handshaking, discussion, and mutual support, at a networking event held at the Irish Embassy in central London on Tuesday evening.

The event marked the last major appointment on the recently founded London Irish Graduate Network's (LIGN) busy 2012 calendar, which featured a wide series of networking opportunities, business meetings, and more informal affairs.

The network, founded in 2010, is the first London-based Irish network created specifically for recent graduates, something which board member Chris Murnane says underscores just how vast the numbers of young Irish flocking to the city has become.

"Unfortunately we're dealing with a tidal wave of emigration from Ireland that shows no signs of letting up," Murnane, a recent law graduate from University College Cork (UCC), commented.

"Some young graduates arrive in London by choice, but we're seeing many others come here after arriving at the conclusion that staying in Ireland just isn't an option career-wise."

"Our role at the LIGN is to facilitate young professionals' easy integration into London society, and particularly to create for them a network of like-minded individuals who are all seeking broadly the same thing, namely securing paid employment, finding a reasonably-priced place to live, and networking with other young Irish who also happen to find themselves in London."

"We're seeing a sharp increase in the numbers of Irish coming here looking to get into more professional sectors of the economy such as legal services, accountancy, and banking, and changes in traditional settlement patterns within the City itself, but just about everybody stands to benefit from meeting other people with similar needs and interests."

"Moving to a big city like London can be daunting, and although there are several other Irish networks operating in the city, LIGN is the first one targeted specifically for this age bracket and stage in life. We feel that it's fulfilling a valuable need."

The evening was kicked off with a speech by resident Ambassador Bobby McDonagh who praised the networks' young founders - graduate business students at Cass University, a popular city-center school - for their ingenuity in setting up the network, and spoke of a 'new era' in relations between Ireland and its closest neighbour.

"Historically, things have sometimes been difficult between us and the UK, but I think it's now safe to say that we're the best of friends."

"Networks such as the LIGN make a  more than worthwhile contribution to the lives of young professionals living, studying, or working, in the City," the career diplomat, in his fourth and final year in London, added.

One eager networker at the event, Robert Murphy, a recent commerce graduate from a Dublin university, said that he'd made some valuable contacts during the two hour mingling session held in the Embassy's main reception room, at which he'd had a chance encounter with someone from his hometown.

"I was lucky enough to meet another Galwegian who's working in more or less the same kind of accountancy work that I'm looking to get into."

"We grew up only a few miles from each other, and moved over here at roughly the same time, but there's probably little chance that we'd have knocked into each other if it hadn't been for this event."

"We exchanged business cards and if there are any openings at his firm I'm hopeful that he'll drop me a line."

Sarah Shanahan, from Cork, agreed that the evening had been a worthwhile experience, and looked forward to future events.

"I've only been living here for three weeks, so while the tips on the job hunt I got from others were useful, I was just as pleased to take advice about finding a place, or even just getting around London."

"It's comforting to know that there are countless other Irish my age out there and going through exactly the same thing. It's definitely something I'd go to again."


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