By: The Yank | Published Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 6:36 PM | Updated Saturday, August 3, 2013, 7:09 PM
As I was reading Piaras Mac Éinrí's article on the return of emigration it struck me that if Mac Éinrí is right, and I think he's a little ahead of the game but he will be right soon enough, that another Irish Christmas custom will be revived soon: the emigrants' Christmas visit.
Before the Celtic Tiger this was a phenomenon that everyone here knew or at least understood. RTE would report on it each year in the days before Christmas with clips of tearful, joyful reunions from the airports. The returnees would then embark on a week or two of living like there was no tomorrow, because for too many of them that's how it felt. And then, just like that, the Christmas visit was over and RTE was back at the airports, providing clips of tearful, sorrowful farewells.
The story was so familiar that the Electricity Supply Board ran an ad campaign that featured an emigrant returned for Christmas, even though if you watch the video you'll see nothing that blatantly says (a) it's Christmas or (b) the young man is an emigrant. Still, anyone who came of age here in the 1980s will recognize all the clues. For a lot of those people, even those who returned during the booming 90s, this ad is still very poignant.