Taoiseach Enda Kenny has delivered a message to Irish people living abroad, appealing to them to consider returning home not just for Christmas, but for good.
Each year thousands of people fly in from Australia, America, Britain and Europe to spend the holiday season with their loved ones.
This year, Mr Kenny was keen to stress that the economy is making great strides to recovery, and encouraged our emigrants to look into the possible job opportunities for them and considering staying.
He pointed out that although it is a joyful time at Christmas to have sons, daughter, brothers and sisters come home, “return flights can cast a long shadow”.
Of course Irish people have a long history of leaving their home to make a better life elsewhere. The millions of Irish people that left in the 19th and 20th centuries mean that there are now more than 100 million people around the world with Irish heritage.
The past decade has seen thousands more skilled young people leave as the economy crash limited the chances of earning a good living.
The Taoiseach went on: “Once again foreign lands benefited from the experience and passion of our people. But you will always be of Ireland. There will always be a place for you here.
“That’s why I want this Christmas to be different. To be a turning point. Ireland is coming back, we are rising from those dark days. The future is filled once again with hope.”
Mr Kenny then wished those returning and those still here, a very merry and peaceful Christmas.
See the entire Christmas message here.