THEY are the generation that could be lost to Ireland – but this weekend they are home to the bittersweet joy of a temporary reunion with their families.
There were plenty of tears and hugs at Dublin Airport as mums and dads reclaimed their sons and daughters, if only for Christmas.
Jacqueline and Jimmy Flynn from Navan, Co Meath had an emotional welcome for their daughter Jenny who has spent the past 10 months in Singapore.
And through her tears, Jacqueline spoke of her anger and hurt that her child, a speech and language graduate from Trinity, could not get work here.
"For every mum who is parted from their child, it is misery. I think it is a disgrace that she had to go abroad to get work. We are going to end up with nobody here," she said.
A crowd of Mooneys from Galway were in the arrivals area to give a cead mile failte to Cilla (24) and her boyfriend Stephen Ridgard, who have been in Toronto for the past 18 months.
Reunited with her mum and three sisters again, Cilla, a hair stylist, said she emigrated because of the "bad" employment situation at home.
And the first thing Cilla was planning to do once she had said her hellos – "eat a fry".
Cian Bregazzi-Nevin and his girlfriend Jennie Conway, both from Templeogue, flew in from Melbourne after 18 months.
Cian, an engineer, emigrated because there was no prospect of a job for him here after he qualified.
The couple went on work/holiday visas to Australia but Jennie has been sponsored by the hospital where she works so they can now stay indefinitely. "We will stay for a while anyway. The weather is fantastic and lots of our friends are there now too," said Cian.
"But I think that the draw back home will always be there. A lot of people will eventually come back," he added.
And it was a special family reunion for Shona Harris, originally from Skerries who flew in from Perth with her three children yesterday to see her sisters for the first time in many months.
Shona has been Down Under for six years now and it was the first time she was meeting her nephew Harry, son of sister Rachel O'Mahony and niece Emily, who is the 18-month-old daughter of her sister Maebh.
The arrivals were some of over 625,000 people who will travel through the DAA airports over Christmas.
And in Ireland West Airport Knock the scenes were similar on one of the busiest days of the season. Ballina native Cillian Gallagher and his wife Charlie, who are based in England, said they were thrilled to be back on familiar soil with their daughters Lorelei and Lottie. "Lottie was born six months ago so this is her first trip home to see her grandparents," said Cillian.
Aoife Harte from Ballintogher in Co Sligo was met by a homemade sign at the arrivals gate, held by her mother Mary and her grandmother Maureen which said: 'Aoife, Glad to see you got the right plane'."
"I have a habit of getting on the wrong trains and buses in the past and ending up in all kinds of places, so it is good to get home safely," she said.
Meanwhile the Road Safety Authority has urged motorists to take extra care while driving over the coming week.