My view on emigration is, understandably, shaped by my experience.
I was born in Canada, as was my eldest brother (we have joint citizenship).Of the nine children produced by my four grandparents, not one spent their entire working life in the State, and three are permanently resident abroad.Of my seven siblings, only one has not lived and worked abroad, and two still do.
I have 34 first cousins living, of whom 25 were born in Ireland. Nineteen now live in Ireland, of whom three have returned after being located elsewhere.
I have three children. One lives in Dublin (at least three hours travelling time away). The other two live abroad.
I have nine nephews/nieces: four live abroad.
To sum all this up: Emigration has always been part of the story of my family as I have known it.
It's not exactly that "it's no big deal", as it were; it is more a case that this is Life - if your desires, plans, ambitions, relationships need you to live a long way away from where you grew up, you do it. You do not wring your hands, and wish that it could be otherwise, and neither do those whom you are leaving behind. There is some pain in separation, but it's not "the end of the world."
Of course, it is very important to this mind-set that separation, albeit it may be prolonged over years, is not seen as permanent. For many Irish families, though not mine, the experience of emigration meant the departure of family members who were never seen or heard from again.
Next, I hope to address the topic of emigration in the context of Ireland's current circumstances in 2011.