Emigration will crash through bleak levels last seen in the 1980s this year as people flee Ireland looking for work, a leading think-tank has warned.
As many as 100,000 are expected to join a mass exodus of the country over two years as the economy remains frozen until at least 2012.
Cormac O'Sullivan, of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), signalled it will be the worst haemorrhaging of the population in several decades.
"It is not a record high if you want to go back to the Famine, but certainly it would be safe to say if these migration forecasts are accurate it would be the largest migration in recent history," he said.
The ESRI, which advises the Government on policy decisions, predicted 50,000 people will have left the State looking for a new life abroad between last April and April this year.
Another 50,000 will seek out better prospects overseas during the following 12 months, according to its stark quarterly report.
The darkest year for mass departures from Irish shores in recent times was in 1989 when 44,000 people were forced to leave home for jobs. However, the population has also increased since then.
ESRI economists believe huge emigration is the main reason unemployment levels should stay steady for the rest of the year before coming down slightly in 2012.
Around 287,000 should remain on the dole queues until next year, they forecast. If people do not emigrate at the rate expected, then joblessness will be even more severe.