|Photo Credit: DAVID MONAHAN|
Is Ireland heading back to the days when money from emigrantsabroad was a mainstay of the economy?
A recent report by a leading hedge fund in Britain stated it was highly likely that emigrant remittances would play an increasing role in the Irish economy.
We have all heard tales of the 1940s and 50s when money from emigrants in Britain and America kept many an Irish family going through very hard times.
Former Irish Times writer John Healy wrote very movingly about his aunt in Brooklyn who kept his family in rural Mayo going.
He had always imagined she lived in finery in America, but when he eventually visited her it was in a fourth floor walk up in a dingy building. She had sacrificed everything to keep them all together back in Ireland.
She had never married, had kept down two jobs and scraped and saved to see her relatives in Ireland better off.
That was not an unusual story.
When I lived in England during the mid 70s, the final stops at the weekend were always the same for many in my construction crew.
Read More: Irish economy to become dependent on emigrant funds by 2020, expert warns
There was the pub on Friday night and the post office on Saturday morning to send money home to the folks. Despite the fact that many were living in abject conditions themselves and saving little, the money home was always a sacred duty.
Many a rural town and village depended on those remittances in the form of money orders and it is so strange to see them being talked about again
The emigrantparcel was a lifesaver in many homes, especially from America. As the emigrant trails have started up again there will be many households back home, especially where the breadwinner has left, awaiting those funds again.
They won’t come via post office money order I'm guessing but by wire and bank transfer.
Soon the technology will exist where funds can be transferred by cell phone - thanks to Irish businessman Denis O'Brien who has created just such a system for Haitians for which he was praised in a Time Magazine cover story by Bill Clinton.
Leave it to an Irishman to come up with way for emigrantremittances to be conveyed at speed back to the family back home.
The hedge fund expert in Britain stated: "Having not depended on remittances for many decades, Ireland, like Portugal, will come to rely on these once more.”
Plus ça change, you might say.