Friday 23 March 2018

'There's no town in Mayo that hasn't been hit by emigration'

Councillor Martin McLoughlin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Councillor Martin McLoughlin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Gráinne Loughran

Martin McLoughlin has five adult children, but only one still lives in Ireland today.

His other four children were forced to emigrate to find employment.

Martin, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, says that two of his sons are living in Australia working as engineers, and he also has a son and daughter working in London.

Mayo has seen 3,246 people leave since 2011, according to the Census 2016, one of the highest outflows of population in the country.

A lack of job opportunities was the reason behind his children's emigration.

"There were just no jobs here, zero prospects," he said. "It's everywhere around where I come from in our town in Castlebar and in our county. There's no town or village in Mayo that hasn't been severely affected by emigration."

Martin, who works as an engineer and is a local councillor, says that he sees a lot of families whose children have had to leave to find jobs.

"I met one woman in Knock Airport recently, she has a daughter, and she was going to take a job in London," he said. "Her tearful mother turned to me and said, 'I never reared my daughter to emigrate.' She was going home to an empty house. So I knew where she was coming from, I could empathise."

Martin added: "I see villages in Mayo where there is no one between 18 and 30. Schools have been closing because they've no kids. Those leaving are the people who would be working and building our future and living in the community."

It has been difficult for Martin to see his children leave, but he says that it has also been hard for them.

"I've no doubt in the world that anybody who ever took the boat or the plane to go abroad will always be looking in the rear-view mirror," he said.

Irish Independent

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