Irish migration and return: continuities and changes over time

Mary Cawley, Steven Galvin


The return of first generation migrants to the Republic of Ireland (RoI) is well documented since the 1980s, based on studies that adopt both structural and more humanistic approaches but continuities and changes over time in the reasons for leaving and returning are underexplored as themes per se. This paper focuses on the latter dimensions, using information relating to forty-two returnees’ reasons for migration and return (and repeat migration in some instances) discussed with reference to the wider literature. All of the sample interviewees migrated from the RoI, spent at least one year resident outside the island of Ireland and returned to live in the RoI for at least one year. Although a relatively small sample, their migration histories cover an extended period of time from 1947 to 2010 that offers scope for comparison with published sources. The evidence illustrates both changes and enduring continuities in the reasons for leaving and returning and associations with transnational ties which merit further attention.

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