For Boom-to-Bust Ireland, Another Great Migration

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2009 8:40 AM CDT
So many Irish are emigrating from small towns in the rural west that football leagues are having trouble fielding full squads.   (©Boocal)
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(Newser) – The collapse of the Celtic Tiger is prompting another mass exodus from Ireland's rural west, the Wall Street Journal reports, with young workers once again abandoning their hometowns for London or the US. After a rare decade in which emigrants were flooding back to the island, as many as 40,000 people a year are expected to look for work elsewhere the next few years. The exodus is so large that some towns have found they can't even field a 15-man team for the traditional Irish sport called Gaelic football, a mixture of soccer and rugby.

One man born and raised in a small Irish town spent eight years in London but returned to Ireland in 1999, making a comfortable living off of the real estate boom. Now a father of four, he had to close his construction firm and take another job in London, leaving his family and 100-acre farm behind. Leaving a second time, he says, "is easily one of the hardest things I've ever done. I never thought I'd leave Ireland again."