Since 2008, around 200,000 Irish citizens have left their home country to find work elsewhere. The emigration rates have been particularly steep for those who lived in the most rural parts of the country, creating massive demographic gaps. The BBC reports:
Last year 250 people a day, most in their 20s and 30s, packed their bags and left Ireland – many are highly educated. It is the highest emigration rate of any country in the European Union.The result has been a stripping out of rural communities, like those on Achill Island, about an hour’s drive from Ballina, in the far west of Mayo. Achill is Ireland’s largest island, linked to the mainland by a short bridge. […]A teacher tells me, “We’re educating our young people to emigrate.” A whopping 94% of secondary school leavers on Achill go on to university level education – off the island of course.
The decline of places like Achill is a sad story, but it’s also a story of a people who refuse to surrender to adversity. Irish young people have been emigrating for 200 and more years, but in the process they have changed the world. The U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the U.K. would be poorer, less vibrant, and less interesting places without the great outpouring of talent Irish emigrants have brought to new shores.Ireland, of all the countries shattered by the euro implosion, has the best chance for renewal. Its creativity and its courage and willingness to make changes and run risks gives it a special strength. Even in the BBC story there are glimmers of hope about job creation in places like Achill. The young may be fleeing to other places now to the great benefit of their new homes, but don’t count their mother country out just yet either.