Emigration has cast its dark shadow over the Co Clare village of Broadford, the hometown of six young men who left their families for New Zealand earlier this year.

Their parents, who all live within a mile of each other, look to one another for support.

As the Irish Independent reports, “Whenever Mary Casey misses her sons she only has to look out her window for reassurance, knowing the neighbors living on either side of her are experiencing the same separation pain.”

Mary and her husband Sean miss their sons, Kiernan (25) and Daniel (27), two of the six young men who grew up together in Broadford and now share a house in Christchurch, New Zealand. Five of the young men all boarded the same one-way flight to New Zealand in February. The sixth followed in May.

While at first the families were excited about the boys’ “adventure,” less than a year later the novelty of the voyage has worn off and the parents feel the men’s absence. The parents all share the same unspoken fear that their children may not return home.

Mary says she has a hard time walking past the bedroom her sons shared.

"I'm expecting them to be gone for the next four or five years," she told the Irish Independent.

Although she talks to the boys on the phone regularly, she still has a difficult time seeing the empty beds and worrying about them.

"Thinking about them, you'd get very negative thoughts," she said.

"But then you'd hear them laughing in the background and I try to think positive. But you could be a nervous wreck worrying about them."

Kiernan and Daniel work for the same company in New Zealand installing fibre optic cables. Their plan is to save money to build their own homes on family-owned land in Broadford.

Their father Sean says he saw two of his uncles emigrate to the US decades ago only to return to be buried.

"Now it's a natural thing for people to go," he said. "It's an awful challenge."

Sean and Mary’s neighbors, Breda and Paddy Taylor, first experienced heartbreak when their daughter Sinead (25) moved to London for three years ago to secure work. Now they are dealing with the departure of their son Paurig (23), who left for New Zealand in May to work as a plumber.

Breda said it doesn’t get any easier.

"Not seeing them. Not touching them. That's what's traumatic about it," she said. "I'd get pangs of just wanting to see them and I get days where I'd just HAVE to talk to them. It's an urgent need," she said.

She says she keeps in touch using the long-distance apps like Viber and Skype, but it's the physical separation that's difficult to endure.

"Skype actually makes it worse," she said. "When you come off it, the reality hits, he's just not here. It changes the house."

She recalls the day her son left for New Zealand.

"It was like a funeral the days afterwards. It was a horrible feeling. You try not to think about it and I make myself not think about how far away it is," she said.

Breda blames the government for the state of the economy and the lack of jobs that has forced the young Irish to leave.

James and Marie Moloney  are having trouble dealing with the emigration of their only child, Niall (23).

Said James: "You get used to it, but it doesn't get any easier. It's like when there's a death in the family.”

Kathleen Moloney (no relation) said she had a difficult time coping when her son Mark (23) announced that he too was leaving for Christchurch for work.

"I got a bit of shock to be honest," she told the Irish Independent.

She says her son Mark’s absence has also been hard on her husband Thomas Joseph and their 19-year-old son Diarmund, who she fears will be the next one to leave.

"Christmas will be lonely, but there are so many families in the same situation."

Broadford, County Clare: Families of six young men struggle to cope with separation.