Read more: Survey shows 1 in 10 plan to leave Ireland in 2011

A leading expert on rural Ireland has warned that the plight of emigration will rip the country apart in the wake of the Celtic Tiger’s demise.

Community activist and well known Clare GAA personality Fr Harry Bohan has warned that the very fabric of Irish society is threatened by the growing emigration problem.

Fr Bohan made his remarks to the Sunday Independent newspaper after a National Youth Council of Ireland survey indicated that 70 percent of unemployed young Irish people believe they will emigrate in the next 12 months.

The Economic and Social Research Institute has also claimed that 1,000 people a week are now quitting Ireland in the search for work with the USA, Canada, Australia and Britain their most likely destinations.

The Government body also predicts that net outward migration will 100,000 by April 2012, a figure far higher than the peak of 44,000 people who emigrated at the height of the last recession in 1989.

The GAA has also voiced concern as its member clubs lose an average of 250 players a month to emigration.

Fr Bohan said: “The mass emigration of the Fifties was about 50,000 people a year leaving in Ireland.

“That was regarded then as a total disaster, so much so that people wondered whether Irish independence was worth it at all.

“Now we are losing that number and more, which means we could be getting closer and closer to a lost generation. I heard a young fella on the radio say that out of 100 in his class who had graduated in 2008, he is one of the last men standing here in Ireland. That is serious stuff.

“If we lose that generation, it is going to have serious implications for the economy in the years to come. And it is also going to have serious implications socially.”

Read more: Survey shows 1 in 10 plan to leave Ireland in 2011