independent

Friday 25 April 2014

The lost boys of Lixnaw: town laments scourge of emigration

IT is a story that's not unique and is repeated in countless rural communities across the country decimated by emigration.

The photograph of the fourth class of Lixnaw Boys' National School taken in 1996 starkly illustrates the wave of emigration from one village.

The 11 boys pictured smiling in their grey-and-maroon school uniforms are full of hope about what the future holds in store.

Today, only three remain – the other eight have all gone.

The wave of emigration from the Co Kerry village has been watched closely and recorded by local publican, Paddy Quilter (left).

Since his nephew Michael went to Australia in 2009, Paddy has kept a log of all the young people who have left from within a three-mile radius of his pub.

His emigration logbook now holds the names of 65 young people who have been lost to the village, some members of the same family.

Australia

Most have gone to Australia while others have found work in Germany, Canada, England, the US, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

"It tears the heart out of the community," said Paddy.

A picture of the team that won the 2004 minor hurling championship reiterates the point.

"I've counted 12 out of that panel of 26 that have left," he adds. "The only consolation is that they're all doing well for themselves. They're leaving here highly qualified and can compete as equals in the countries they go to.

"It's sad to see it but they'll come back again some day hopefully."

Of the class of 1996, seven are now living in Australia and one is in Tasmania. A few managed to return for Christmas, but for the time being, trips home are only for holidays.

Irish Independent

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