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Emigrants could find it ‘harder to return to Ireland than it was to leave’

Thousands of people have left Ireland over the last six years as the recession hit the country hard.

The government is now actively encouraging Irish citizens to return home and many are thinking that now may be the right time to do so. However, it might not be as easy as they think.

While there are more jobs on offer, as well as skills shortages in certain sectors, there may be other problems to contend with, according to Father Alan Hilliard, who is a board member of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants.

Emigrants may find it difficult to return to Ireland

In his column in the Irish Times Fr Hilliard discussed how people who have left Ireland since 2009 are now at a stage where they are beginning to decide whether to stay in their adoptive country permanently or try to come home.

He also brought up some of the problems that they may encounter.

Fr Hilliard wrote: “Research tells us that while departure is difficult, returning can be infinitely harder. The process is made even more complicated by the assumption that it’s just a matter of slipping back in the flow of things.”

He said that while a person is away they experience new things and often grow as a person. In many cases they are not the same as when they went away. Likewise, the family dynamic that they left behind won’t have stood still.

Fr Hilliard continued: “Other siblings may be looking on from the sidelines seeing a great fuss being made of the returnee, and will have their own thoughts, views and feelings on what is happening as well.

“Return, like a lot of change, has to be negotiated carefully. There is delight but there is also a degree of anxiety. This is all part of the emotional process of emigration and return that can be collectively called “migratory mourning.

“Mourning or grief is as much about change and adaption as it is about loss. It can be as much about place and atmosphere as people. With all these issues in the mix, it is quite clear that returning is never just a matter of fitting in to the old ways; this approach is sure to cause conflict and damage relationships.”

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He says it can be quite startling for a person who returns and sees that many things have changes. For some people it is only then that they realise how much they themselves have also changed. People can start to feel like strangers in their own home.

Fr Hilliard concludes that people returning to Ireland shouldn’t expect things to be the same as when they left as it could lead to heartbreak.

5 thoughts on “Emigrants could find it ‘harder to return to Ireland than it was to leave’

  1. Loretta Day

    Those who left experienced “Culture Shock” . Having experienced it once, would be easier on returning.
    Remember The Prodigal Son ! He also returned !

    27/08/2016 at 5:31 pm
  2. Catherine Sims

    I made the move home and I haven’t regretted it for one minute !! Somethings have changed but actually much more has stayed the same. Family and friends and familiarity are lovely. Shared jokes shared cultural references it’s felt just like a huge sigh of relief getting home again.

    27/06/2016 at 10:08 am
  3. Anthony rush

    Love to return really would but I’m married with family now and I see problems on the horizon. I could be drained of all my savings with the move getting a house etc and I would need a job at least €30,000. Also different education system so my kids could have difficulties eg in maths we are in England and the level is lower than Ireland and I know this from bitter experience from when my parents returned in 1977 so you see love to but there are issues . Love the new taoiseach to read this

    27/02/2016 at 1:09 pm
  4. Philomena Daly

    Good article as it is a great topic for many however it does seem a bit one-sided and not enough information on the positive changes that are encouraging people back at this time, Like for example, programs, incentives or any kind of advantages that are available to make the transition easier. Helping returning Irish with setting up in business to create employment with what they have learned abroad, especially those away a long time. Housing options, school etc. Just even a mention here and there of some positive. Job placements. And what about the ones that are sick or getting old or young but not doing well? Are there support programs in place for all Irish that had to leave? Just my thoughts, other than that I enjoyed the article and the writer’s insight. Cheers 🙂

    27/02/2016 at 2:25 am
  5. Mary Cahill

    Folks think long and hard about coming back I came back during the last boom and I have never settled. I married and had a family so could never go back to USA.

    27/08/2015 at 11:41 pm

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