Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Study of returning migrants begins

A plane touches down in Ireland - and academics are trying to establish the reasons why returning migrants come back to their roots
A plane touches down in Ireland - and academics are trying to establish the reasons why returning migrants come back to their roots

Academics are trying to paint a picture of the lure of the Celtic Tiger and the difficulties facing returning migrants.

Researchers want to explore the motivations for people returning home after decades abroad, and why many settle in rural areas and some feel like outsiders in their own country.

The University of Aberdeen is trying to trace migrants who arrived back in the country in the 1990s and 2000s and record their experiences and the obstacles they faced.

Christina Noble, PhD geography student, said the biggest impact was on people who left in the 1950s and 1960s and returned to enjoy their retirement.

"One of the big problems people have told me is that they feel that they are outsiders in Ireland - it has changed so much that they don't feel at home," she said.

Ms Noble has personal experience of the plight of emigration as she is originally from north-west Kerry and saw her relatives leave and later return from America and England.

The study will focus on migrants who resettled in western Ireland, including Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork, and detailed accounts from about 25 families will be recorded. It is hoped the research will give an idea of the social and cultural impact of migrants returning to Ireland - with both the country and themselves better off than when they left.

Ms Noble said the motivation to return would be an important part of the study.

"Interestingly, many people did not return to the industrial centres of Dublin and Limerick but chose to establish themselves in more rural areas," she said. "This would suggest they were often returning to their birthplace or where their family were located, and were prioritising this in their decision to return over any economic factors."

In the last five years, about 105,000 Irish people have immigrated into Ireland, according to the Central Statistics Office.

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