More than 200,000 Irish people have emigrated from the country since the recession hit in 2008. The majority of those leaving are in their twenties. Although mass emigration is nothing new to the country, small and rural Irish parishes like Glencolumbkille disproportionately feel the effects.
According to a recent study published by the University of College Cork, rural areas are disproportionally affected by the emigration of young people.
Their departure distorts town demographics, causing a swell in the proportion of young and old citizens.
The construction industry was impacted the most by the recession. House prices fell in value by over 50 percent, and subsequently the number of jobs available in construction fell with them.
Although Victoria Byrne receives income from two jobs, she still is not able to meet her financial needs. She explained that full-time positions are especially hard to find.
“Towns around here are small and don ́t have much big industry,” she said, “The only real options are to work in the fish factory or a grocery store.”
A photo of Victoria as a child sits on the mantle in her family's home.
Boredom is a constant challenge young adults face in Glencolumbkille. Victoria spends her time either working at a pub or around the house relaxing and helping run her family's bed and breakfast.
Jamie McNern estimated that about 15 young adults from the area had moved abroad since the beginning of summer. In a small parish like Glencolumbkille, this has a substantial effect on the local economy and the overall community.
“There's shops closing and there’s pubs closing and it's all to do with that: emigration,” he said, “Everyone else is gone, I'm just fed up... once my work runs out I’ll be gone.”
Jamie entertains his cousin Katie by showing her funny YouTube videos.
Besides being the second oldest in a family of five, he also has many extended family members nearby.
Born and raised in the Glencolumbkille area, he has not moved away from the parish for an extensive period of time, therefore never living far from his family.
Certified in stone masonry and general construction, Jamie hopes to one day own a landscape contracting business, but sees the possibility of reaching that goal unlikely if he stays in this area of Ireland.
“I’m doing stone work right now but I suppose there’s only so much of that,” he said, “I’ll eventually have every wall built in Glen.”
View from outside Jamie's home in Glencolumbkille.
“I’ll miss my family,” he said, “...and I’ll miss the beauty of the place.”