ARKLOW GIRLS Karen and Rachel Dowling will be two more Irish citizens added to the whopping 87,100 who emigrated in the last year when they depart for Australia later this month.
The sisters who live in Lamberton Heights will join their older sister Donna (25) who along with her boyfriend Peter already started a new life Down Under last May.
Karen's boyfriend Matthew Kavanagh, from Aughrim, is setting off as well, and will be the third sibling in his family to leave these shores in search of work, better prospects and a life that Ireland simply can no longer provide.
'I am hoping to get work in nursing. I just got my degree in Intellectual Disability Nursing and my graduation will be the last family occasion before we head off. There are brilliant prospects in Australia and people climb the ladder really quickly. Also there is much more training available while you work,' explains Karen (23).
Younger sister Rachel (22) is also qualified in Social Studies but the recession has resulted in the severe lack of job opportunities.
'I am working at the moment to save up for the trip but I have applied for jobs in the area I'm qualified in but didn't even get a reply back from them. Working for peanuts with no chance of promotion is not something I want to continue,' explains Rachel.
'I always wanted to be an air hostess so I would love to do a course in Australia. I'm going to look into it when I get there.'
While packing up and moving is certainly a big step for the Dowling girls, the presence of their older sister Donna is most certainly a comfort to them and will make the transition easier.
'We are nervous but so excited. It has been in the distance for so long and now it's almost time to go. Donna has a hostel booked for us and she had already gone through all the paperwork before so we knew what we had to do. She will be able to help us setting
up bank accounts and getting mobile phones,' says Rachel.
For Karen, getting her degree and finishing her final year of college was the last hurdle to overcome before focusing on her trip.
'It's a completely different life over there but I have to go. I have been studying for five years and nothing has changed in the country. My boyfriend and I have no chance of buying or building a house the way things are at the moment. There is nothing here for young people and while it will be really sad to leave our families it is the people that we will miss, not the lifestyle. In Australia people work so they have money to spend and there is a totally different lifestyle.'
As their departure date looms, Rachel and Karen are in the throes of final preparations and their while they will be away for Christmas they are looking forward to their adventure.
'We are going to be away for Christmas but hopefully it will also be so new to us that the excitement will help. We will be meeting up with our friends and family a few times before we leave,' said Karen.
For Rachel the packing has already started and it's full steam ahead for the big move.
'I have started packing but it's all over the place and thrown into the suitcase at the moment! I'll have to start sorting it out soon.'
Rachel and Karen are just two of the many Arklow young people who have decided to leave town and according to local Councillor Pat Fitzgerald there is no sign of a change in the situation.
'I am aware of many people who have left Ireland over the last few years. While some left of choice but the vast majority went to secure employment because of the lack of job prospects in our country and mainly due to the dearth of available positions in Wicklow.While it is difficult to capture the full extent of the emigration crisis there is no doubt we are seeing many well educated and highly skilled people leaving our shores to seek employment and I sincerely hope that we will many of them return in the years to come.'