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Miriam Donohoe: 'Surfing every day doesn't ease the pain of missing my nieces and nephews grow up'

TODAY I've begun to tell my family and friends about my final couple of months and the date I leave. Makes it so real. Very emotional day.

Twitter early on Monday morning, and a poignant first post from a new account, @LeavingEire2013. Last year, over 100 people a day left Ireland's shores to find work and set down roots abroad. This is not the first generation of Irish to emigrate, but it is the first to do so in the social-networking era.

A century ago, the pain of emigration was played out at Irish ports when loved ones said goodbye, knowing they would never see their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters again. In more recent times, the heartbreaking scenes were at Irish airports.

But the digital age has changed the face of emigration. Emigrants can stay connected with family and friend thanks to Facebook, Twitter, email, text and Skype. And with @LeavingEire2013, we get a unique insight into the trauma of leaving home on a very instant and public forum.

Our tweeter is 35 and based in Dublin. We don't know the name or sex. He or she has secured a job in Perth, Australia.

Throughout Monday, a picture is painted in simple 140-character messages of the emotions involved in preparing to leave.

Considering I'm heading to a climate of about 20 degrees in winter, I'm a little more excited than sad:)

Yes, there are compensations with the emigrant life – the sunshine, and the surfing.

But then there was a reminder of what he or she was leaving behind.

I'll be able to go surfing every day but doesn't make up for the pain I feel when I think of how I'll miss my nieces and nephews growing up.

Monday morning fear and self pity coupled with guilt of leaving elderly parents – hmmm think I'd better go off the weekend celebrations.

For others contemplating emigration, there was some practical advice.

If you are thinking about heading Down Under permanently, the visa process can take nearly a full year. Be patient and research everything.

I've spreadsheets coming out my ears – ship it, recycle it, dump it, store it. It's amazing how much stuff I have – I'm thinking car boot sale.

Our tweeter tells @garethoconnor that leaving is a combination of "have to" and "want to".

So many demographics are emigrating – I'll try and show what we feel in reality.

On Tuesday our tweeter announces: 61 sleeps before I leave.

I've an urge to download music from every Irish artist I know, for fear of impending nostalgia for all things Ireland... it's a very hard decision but it's exciting times. I'm erring on the positive. Every cloud and all that.

We learn our tweeter is going to Western Australia.

Perth to be exact. Feeling scared, excited, sad, angry, happy etc.

Later on Tuesday some of the pain of packing up house is revealed.

I'm trying not to be sentimental, it's only bricks and mortar, but for seven years its wasn't just a house – it was my HOME.

Remarkably, the wonders of the digital age meant he or she could check out their new working environment at the touch of a button.

Google earth is excellent. I've been down the street outside my new office and seeing where the best place to get coffee is – "Priorities".

On Wednesday, the visa forms arrived.

Word is spreading too – the "we have to meet before you go" messages are coming in hard and fast #itssoreal.

And the anguish of telling loved ones you are leaving continues.

Told 5yr old nephew to shout hello to the planes in the sky and they would carry his words to me. Forgot to say, wait till I'm gone – oops.

There are some things that won't be missed, thanks again to the wonders of technology. A Twitter message to Hector O hEochagain, 2FM DJ.

@hectoron2fm at least I'll still be able to listen to hector – thank god for podcasts – breakfast would never be the same.

Our tweeter was getting philosophical yesterday.

We're a wonderful, wonderful people, so when did we all get so fearful. Now we're finally finding our voices – come help me sing #anthem.

@LeavingEIRE2013 is not alone. Young people are leaving Ireland at the rate of 3,000 a month.

Around 46,500 Irish people left the State in the year up to the end of April 2012, compared with just 12,000 who emigrated in 2007, just before the country went bust.

But they are never really far away.

We can follow their journeys now like never before.

Irish Independent