Carmel Walsh is 26. A native of Kilkenny, she will leaves Ireland in just over two weeks. After a qualifying with a masters in youth community help at the University of Maynooth (near Dublin), she worked for three years part-time. She feels fortunate; "in comparison to many other young graduates at the same time I'm doing very well. I have a great job, I earn enough with my part time, I'm not complaining.”

Yet this year she decided along with a friend to leave her country for Canada. "I leave my friends and my family, it's not easy, but it had to be done." Why leave? "My job is great, but I work in the community sector which means that we are very affected by the crisis. There is less and less subsidies from the state and as I am the last one hired I would be the first to go when money fail. I prefer to anticipate."

Carmel is also leaving in the hopes of securing a better standard of living. "Here I can live well with my work, earn a living, but I cannot really save it, it’s a week by week situation. And there is little chance that this will change, I do not have any experience and it will be very hard to find a real job. I know people who are looking for a job and have fifteen years’ experience, they cannot even land a single job interview. With my little experience, there is almost no chance that I find a job with real prospects. I love Dublin and I would love to stay but rents are so expensive here. I can stay here and work but it will means that I cannot save and in the end I would not have the same standard of living as someone who emigrates. The friend I am going with to Canada has a double master and all she can find is an internship or volunteer work."

Why Canada? "This is a country where it is quite easy to get a visa and I have several friends who are already there. In addition there is a good chance to work, it will allow me to build my career and gain more experience"

Emigration is not something that scares her, because like many Irish, she is used to it. "For three years I worked and I saw many friends go. England, Canada ... sometimes they come back here and sometimes not. Recently one of my cousins went to Australia. In a month a friend will leave, then another two weeks later. This is something that we accept and that is normal now. And even more so outside of Dublin. My friends in Kilkenny from where I'm from are more likely to leave the country than people from Dublin. In my family we are used to it. My two brothers emigrated - one to Australia and one to the United States. They both returned since. "

She knows that compared others she doesn’t need to leave but yet it had to be solved. "If I had the opportunity to stay I would. But the government prefer to cut subsidies for the people we help rather than taking money from big businesses."

"It's sad because Ireland is becoming the country of emigration. I have a friend who got a job in Canada five years ago and that’s why he stayed. He misses Ireland but he won’t come back because if he comes back it will be impossible for him to find work. In my opinion, emigration is no longer in the short term. We do not go abroad for a year or two, but to find work and settle because our country does not allow it. "

Carmel has applied a two year visa but if all goes well over there she plans to stay and apply for a resident visa.


Carmel is not an isolated example. Since the catastrophic economic crisis that hit the country in 2008, 300,000 people have left, which means about 1,000 per week. That’s a sobering figure when you consider Ireland’s population is just four million. Net migration in the country (immigration minus emigration – in other words the amount of people who leave minus the amount of people who arrive) has been negative since 2010.

Several studies have been done on the subject like that of Mary Gilmartin, professor of geography at the University of Maynooth. She Irish also emigrated in the 1990s before returning in 2003. The specificity of the study is that it not only takes into account emigration but immigration.

"Emigration and immigration are fundamentally linked and it is always very interesting to study these phenomena at the same time because it is a complex and more difficult to analyze than we think. In Ireland, we tend to think that migration will only go in one direction. For a long time we talked only of emigration because Ireland is a country with high emigration culture historically and during the Celtic Tiger (between 1990 and 2007 when the country's growth was very strong), people were focused only on immigration while in the meantime people still left the country and was also for economic reasons. Since the recession we no longer talk about immigration. "

This recession is the crisis experienced in Ireland in the late 2000s. It is the first in the eurozone to enter recession in September 2008. Two factors weakened banks and required bailouts from the state: the global financial crisis and the bursting of the Irish property bubble. The country then returned to recession. In the first quarter of 2009, the level of GDP dropped 6.4% from the first quarter of the previous year. Unemployment, previously at around 3 or 4% before 2007, exploded to reach 11% by 2009. Wages fell and successive governments were forced to put the country through significant austerity measures from which it still hasn’t emerged.

These economic problems have a direct consequence: more emigration and less immigration. A major problem however: as in France there are no official figures on emigration which seriously complicates the work of researchers. "It was very hard to find numbers. However, every five years there is a national census which provides us with some interesting data but are estimates, not hard numbers. "

"First we see that the figure given in the media of the 1000 Irish leaving the country every week is wrong. Half of these emigrants are not Irish. However, the share of Irish emigrants has risen sharply. "Indeed in 2007, 28% of emigrants were Irish, in 2012 they accounted for 54% of emigration, their numbers increasing from 12,000 to 47,000 over the period. These figures also give an indication of the profile of migrants. 85% of them are aged between 15 and 44 years.

"But beware, this is not only because of the crisis that people go .Again, emigration is a complex subject because there is no single reason why people leave . It is most often a combination of several factors. There are young people who are not actually working but there are some who seeks adventure and go for that reason. All these departures are also encouraged by the fact that it is easier to get visas, the Irish can go to the United Kingdom and settle there without needing a visa. Canada and Australia also gives more visas for Irish. "

But this is nothing new for Ireland – the country is simply reliving its past. "It's an old story - there is in Ireland, mass emigration every 30 years. In the 1920s and in the 1950s, then in 1980 and now in 2010. For example half my family from my mother's side moved to the United States and two-thirds of my family on my father’s side emigrated to the United States. It is very difficult to find a family in Ireland which is not affected by emigration. "


This movement of people away from Ireland has had an unexpected side affect – the foundation of an association for people determined to stay. It was born a year ago and is called We are not Leaving. Garrett, 26, is one of its representatives. He was an immigrant too and left Ireland for two years for England. Back in his country he decided to get involved in this movement in January 2014.

Today the Facebook page of the group has over 5,000 likes. Opposed to what they describe as a "forced emigration" and their focus is multiple. "The main problem is emigration and we must address the root of the problem which is why our themes are varied: youth unemployment, mental health, precarious employment and internship policies. If the movement is opposed to this "mass emigration" they refute being in "anti-immigration". "We do not want to judge people who leave the country. If you want to leave the country and it's your choice, fine. The problem today is that young people are leaving the country because they do not have a choice. The number of young people leaving the country has not increased magically; there is a reason for that. ".

The organization made news at the end of the year 2013 when some of their protests gained the attention of the media. "When we say that the Irish never go to protest, this is completely untrue. Faie enough, we have not been able to mobilize large we do not try to do big events, constantly asking people to come. It does not work. But it focuses more on media friendly action to have a better impact on the media. “


David Monahan has never lived outside of Ireland. This photographer from Dublin stayed in his country despite the crisis. "I’ve worked in photography for quite some time. Before the crisis, I worked for various clients in the capital. But in 2008 I lost almost all my clients. They had no budget. I tried to find something else to do. I thought it would be interesting to do a photographic project that stood true to my heart.”

Once a family member told him that he was about to leave to Australia. David decided to take a picture, a portrait. Hence this idea, "I thought it would be very interesting to do a series of portraits like this one." In late 2009, he decided to post an announcement on his blog: "Searching for people leaving the country, wiling to be photographed before leaving in a place that is dear to them." The message was taken up by other bloggers and the media. "It was pretty crazy, I took the first shot in February 2010 and in September a reporter for the Wall Street Journal came to meet me in Dublin for an article."

The result is David Monahan photographed over 140 people in just three years. Keeping the same idea - catch the moment these people go and "make viewers feel the drama going on here."

In these photos there are a wide variety of profiles, even if all these people have one thing in common. "If they had the opportunity to stay in Ireland and live a stable life here, they would stay. There should be only one or two exceptions to this."

Looking back David Monahan found a purpose to his work: force the government and the media to make progress in the debate on emigration in Ireland, "When there is a sense that the government does not want to talk about it then it is a serious problem. Politicians like to talk about unemployment coming down but they do not say this emigration is one of the reasons for the decline in unemployment. For that reason, if this work can bring us forward and start people talking about this subject in a public forum that’s a good thing.