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    Emigration increasing, says CSO

    Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

    Emigration increased slightly in the year ending April 2008, with 45,300 people leaving Ireland.

    The figure is the highest since 1990, when 56,300 people left the country, but there are a couple of factors making a difference between then and now.

    First, it is likely that there are number of immigrants who had been temporarily in the country who are now returning home or moving on to a third country. The CSO statistics do not reveal nationality of those leaving, but 9,000 are moving on to the accession countries of the EU, while 7,400 are moving on to other parts of continental Europe.

    Second, immigration continues to outpace emigration, as it has been doing consistently since 1996. There were 83,300 people who came into Ireland last year; while this is a four-year low and a fairly dramatic decrease from the 109,500 who came in the year ending April 2007, net migration is still significantly inward.

    The figure for net migration now stands at 38.5 – although this is nearly half its peak of 71,800 in 2006, it’s still a far cry from the situation twenty years ago. 1988 was one of the peak years for emigration – at that time, net migration stood at -41.9.

    The trends, however, are toward increasing emigration and decreasing immigration. The figures also date to April, and as such wouldn’t show any acceleration in emigration that may or may not have occurred this summer.

    Where are the outward migrants going?

    • 7,000 went to the UK, down from 10,100 in the year ending 2007.
    • 7,400 went to the pre-accession countries of continental Europe, up from 3,200 the year before.
    • 9,000 went to the 12 countries of the EU accession states, up from 7,000 last year.
    • 2,200 are reported to have gone to the US, down from 2,900.
    • 19,800 went to the “Rest of the World”, with 11,300 of those going to Australia and Oceania.

    The CSO also released statistics today showing that the unemployment rate has risen to 5.1%. There are now 115,000 people unemployed.

    One-tenth of Irish students are in UK

    Monday, August 11th, 2008

    The Irish Independent is reporting on the substantial numbers of Irish students who are leaving Ireland to pursue third-level education in Britain. The newspaper says this ‘brain drain’ is caused by increased competition for places in popular college courses, and that one-tenth of university students are now in the UK.

    The report says that there are now 16,000 Irish undergraduates and postgraduates in Britain; this is an increase of 3,000 over five years.  Half of those students are on postgraduate courses.  There are 1,180 students in doctoral programmes, while fewer than 5,000 studying for doctorates in Ireland.

    The newspaper reports there have been substantial rises in the numbers leaving Ireland to study medicine, teacher training, psychology, civil engineering and sports science.

    The Higher Education Authority said it was monitoring the figures.  There are 140,000 students in the Irish third-level system.

    Read more on the Irish Independent website:

    Emigrant chaplains featured on TG4

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

    A four-part documentary is telling the stories of emigrant chaplains in Britain and the US. Séiplinigh na nImirceach, being aired on TG4 throughout May, tells the story of four members of the Emigrant Chaplaincy Scheme, which was set up in 1957 to serve emigrants in the US and Britain.

    One of those interviewed is Ean board member Sr Attracta Heneghan, who worked with the Irish in Huddersfield. Also featured is Fr Michael Leonard, who works in Chicago.

    See the information at the bottom to watch the programmes online.

    The filmmakers say:

    As Chaplains they were there to provide pastoral care to the emigrants but more often found themselves much more deeply involved in the lives of the emigrants than they could possibly have imagined. For many emigrants the Chaplain was seen as a first port of call, to sort accommodation, and employment and to deal with the difficulties many young Irish found themselves in in a strange land. In recent years, we have become very aware of our ‘Diaspora’ and their role in the development of today’s Ireland. In this series, the Chaplains have the opportunity to tell their own side of the emigration story. We also hear from the emigrants themselves, those who have stayed abroad and those who returned.

    The programme also looks at parallels with new immigrant communities in Ireland.

    The programme airs on Sunday nights at 9:30 throughout May. Here are the outlines for the individual programmes:

    Programme 1 An taithí I Londain Sunday May 4th
    Fr Tom Looney is currently Parish Priest of the Gaeltacht community of Dingle. As a young priest he was sent to London to work as an Emigrant Chaplain. Through his experiences we introduce the work of the Emigrant Chaplains and the importance of their role. We also draw parallels between his work London with Irish emigrants and the contemporary situation in Dingle for the new immigrant communities.

    Programme 2 An taithí i Huddersfield – Sunday May 11th

    The second programme in our series looks at the particular experiences of those who emigrated to Huddersfield in the North of England. Huddersfield always had a particular draw for emigrants from Connemara, and in recent years, Sr Attracta Heneghan worked with the older Irish emigrants who have settled there. Now back in Ireland, Attracta meets with Sr Marilyn, a Nigerian Nun who has come to Ireland to provide pastoral support for African immigrants who are settling here.

    Programme 3 An taithí i Sasana – Sunday May 18th

    Fr Gearoid Ó Griofa reflects on his work as an emigrant chaplain with particular responsibility for emigrants in London from Gaeltacht areas in the 1980’s. We examine how today’s chaplains in London are working with the elderly and often lonely Irish emigrants, the same generation which the original chaplains were sent to help 50 years ago. In his current role as PP in the suburbs of Galway Ó Griofa also comments on challenge of multicultural Ireland with examples of cooperation with local NGOs and foreign chaplains.

    Programme 4 An taithí i Chicago – Sunday May 25th

    Our fourth programme follows Fr Michael Leonard on his rounds in Chicago – a particularly Irish city. His brief is to work with newly arrived and undocumented Irish, but the old established Irish community (and their children) still welcome the connection with the Irish priest. We feature contributions from the older Irish-American community who had to leave Ireland and the newer generation who are in USA by choice.

    Watch the programmes online! They are subtitled, in case your Irish is rusty. Here is how to find them:

    1. Go to
    2. On the left, click on “Cláir Eile – Cartlann”
    3. Scroll down until you see each of the four episodes of “Séiplinigh na nImirceach”.

    Author seeks stories from workers in British construction

    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

    Ean member and author Ultan Cowley has put out a call for information as he researches his new book.

    In his own words:


    In 2001 I wrote a history of the Irish in British construction, The Men who built Britain, and now I want to publish the stories of those who were there – in their own words.

    In Britain almost half a million Irishmen worked in construction. On hydro dams, power stations, oil terminals and motorways. Many lived in camps, often in remote locations, working long hours for Wimpey, Tarmac, or MacAlpine, following the Big Money and sending what they hadn’t ‘subbed’ back home to families in Ireland.

    In London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere other Irishmen were working, often on ‘The Lump’, for Irish contractors renewing and expanding the utilities – telephones, water, gas and electricity.

    The pub was their labour exchange. Although working in the public eye theirs was a hidden world: of gangers, agents, publicans and landladies whose whims and vagaries set out their everyday existence. They moved between the pubs, the digs, the dancehalls, ‘caffs’ and roadside ‘Stands’ where ‘Skins‘ were hired each day by gangermen who judged them by their boots.

    Those who were there remember ‘Tunnel Tigers’, ‘Heavy Diggers’, and ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’; ‘Hen Houses’, ‘Cock Lodgers’, and ‘Landladies’ Breakfasts’; ‘Pincher Kiddies’, ‘Long Distance Men’, and ‘Shackling Up’; ‘Dead Men’, ‘Walking Pelters’, and ‘Murphy’s Volunteers’; ‘The Shamrock’, ‘The Galtymore’, ‘The Buffalo’ and ‘The Crown’; exile and isolation and loneliness and despair…

    If you were there, and have a tale to tell, please contact Ultan Cowley at

    The Potter’s Yard



    Co. Wexford


    State checking on pensioners abroad

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

    The Department of Social and Family Affairs is contacting 8,000 pensioners abroad to ensure they are still alive, the Irish Times reports today.

    There are 35,000 people living outside of Ireland who receive the contributory pension, according to the paper; the contributory pension is made to eligible people 66 or over who have paid social insurance PSRI contributions. The pension amounts to €223 per week, with more if the recipient has an adult dependent.

    There are a total of 237,000 recipients of this pension, with 14% of them living abroad. Most of those recipients abroad live in the UK, the US, and Canada. As these countries do not automatically alert Irish authorities when an Irish citizen dies, the Department is concerned that welfare payments may be made to people who have died. Officials are contacting 8,000 recipients they feel may have passed away or who no longer have an adult dependent.

    One thousand circulars were distributed last month, for the first phase of the “life certification project”. If there is no response within a period of time, the payments will be stopped; they will be reinstated, however, if someone is taken off the list but is still alive.

    Read the full story (registration required).

    Seanad loses emigrant advocate

    Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

    A longtime advocate for emigrants has lost his place in the Seanad. Pascal Mooney, a former journalist and broadcaster, says he is devasted by the loss in this year’s elections. He was first elected to the body in 1987.

    Mr Mooney’s interest in emigrant issues had its roots in his own experience living in London for seven years in the 1970s. He often highlighted emigrant issues, and had a special concern for the emigrants who went to Britain in the 1940s and 1950s. He told the paper,

    “The biggest single fallout from this political disaster is that all work now stops at national level. It’s always been seen as a marginal issue and many do not understand the psyche of the emigrant. I have always been acutely aware of it.”

    He said that he had been receiving support from individuals and emigrant groups in Britain, adding that his supporters “have been making strong representations to make sure the emigrant voice is continued.

    Read the article at the Irish Post website.

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