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They left to build a new life abroad but one year on, are Departure Day emigrants really any better off now?

DOZENS of Irish emigrants have found that far away pastures are not always greener when RTE catches up with them after a year abroad.

Families and individuals were interviewed last year as they prepared to leave their homes amid one of Ireland's deepest recessions.

The emigrants told their stories as they left Dublin Airport in Departure Day in January of this year.

The programme was particularly poignant for young couple Stephen Martin and Heather Leahy, who left Co Meath with a new baby and a toddler for a new life in Toronto, Canada.

But the new programme reveals they have been living in rented accommodation in suburban isolation for several months.

Stephen, who is a carpenter, had an uncertain future at home after the collapse of the building trade and soon realised they would struggle to bring their children up in Ireland on his dwindling wages and reduced work hours.

They made the tough decision to move their family to Canada where the country promised much more -- a better standard of living, education and health system.



outback

However, Heather has found that without family and friends nearby to assist with their young family, life isn't as easy as they had imagined.

Another participant, Larry Fay, faced rising unemployment among his peer group of young males in Ireland and departed rural Meath for Australia.

The unemployed electrician abandoned his home town in August 2010 to search for abundant work in the bright lights of Melbourne.

But with only a year-long visa, the programme uncovers the fact that his quest to secure longer term employment hasn't been as straightforward as he imagined.

Now that he's Down Under, he needs to work in a remote Australian outback farm for little money in order to secure a second year's visa.

Meanwhile, Aaron Hogan from Tipperary is still depending on labouring jobs around Sydney's Bondi Beach.

Aaron (25) used to work in the Irish construction industry but when the recession hit, he was forced into a minimum-wage job in a local meat factory.

He followed his friends to Australia where they found some work on the off-season Bondi strip.

However, he is concerned that there are so many Irish people working in local Sydney construction, that the newer Irish emigrants may never be sufficiently skilled to find work back home.

Arrivals, the follow-up to RTE's acclaimed documentary Departure Day, airs on RTE 1 on Monday, November 21 at 9.35pm.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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