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    Australasian Irish Studies Conference: Massey University, NZ; 9-12 July 2009

    Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

    Ireland and the Irish Antipodes: One World or Worlds Apart?

    The Irish Studies Associaton of Australian and New Zealand will host its conference from the 9th to 12th of July at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.

    Organisers say:

    Australia and New Zealand were essentially secondary destinations for the post-1800 waves of Irish leaving to make new lives overseas, accounting for no more than 10 per cent in most decades. Yet the two countries have regularly been identified by scholars as appropriate ‘laboratories’ for studying the nature and impacts of Irish migration over time. This conference seeks to review research undertaken both at the points of origin and destination and to pose new questions. Were the Irish communities that took root in the Antipodes essentially transplanted fragments of the homeland? How did they evolve, and to what extent was their evolution influenced by developments at home? Were there noticeable differences between the Australian and New Zealand Irish experiences, and if so how may these best be explained? What is the relationship today between Ireland and its most far-flung diasporic communities?

    With seven keynote speakers providing contextual signposts, the topics to be addressed over three days will be diverse. Historical themes range from aspects of early convict transportation to Australia, through Irish-Maori relations in New Zealand, to late twentieth century economic interactions. Cultural life will also be a focus, Irish literature, theatre and music – both traditional and contemporary – being scheduled for discussion. A particular consideration will be how the Antipodean Irish are being depicted in historical reconstructions and displays. Necessarily, many of the contributions will reflect collective experiences, but provision has also been made for papers on those of individuals and families. The utility of oral history for recording the experiences of more recent arrivals will also be assessed.

    See the conference website.

    “All it will take is a good job” – NZ journalist tells emigrant’s story

    Monday, May 18th, 2009

    The New Zealand Herald carries an interesting article on the Irish economy that has some particularly moving words about emigration. Journalist Ruaridh Nicoll tells the story of Michael Dermody, a 25-year-old Kilkenny man bound for Perth, Australia.

    Dermody tells the journalist, “A couple of years ago, I might have known two people in the whole of Australia. Now I know 30. I have about five or six friends in Perth alone, all within 15 km of my house.”

    Nicoll notes,

    As I travel round Ireland, I will be told that the boom has changed the country forever and, what with modern air travel, the exodus this time will be temporary. Yet technology, in the form of Facebook and Skype, is a powerful new agent in the emptying of villages. “Those who go are in contact with the lads back home,” Michael says. “They are telling us what a good time they are having, asking, ‘What’s keeping you?’.” The network that has always been so important in Ireland – ties of kinship and geography – now sucks the young away.

    Nicoll tells of Dermody’s departure:

    A little while before, Michael stood up from the farmhouse table, picked up a small rucksack and his hurling sticks, and said he’d best be going.

    His mother sat straight-backed, the pain hard in her eyes, her jaw set, as her son had a last gulp of tea. He tells me later that his parents “hadn’t really spoken” about his departure, “but my mother is unhappy”. This renewed emigration, after 15 years of migrants returning, horrifies the older generations. They know all it will take is a good job, a mortgage or a marriage to keep Michael abroad. “They want to know when I’ll be back, but I don’t know,” he says, as we head outside. “If it doesn’t work out in Perth, I wouldn’t be averse to New Zealand.”

    Read the whole article on the New Zealand Herald website: Wounded Tiger

    For information on moving to Australia, visit the Crosscare Migrant Project website.

    Australia cuts visas for builders and manufacturing

    Friday, March 20th, 2009

    is reacting to the global downturn by cutting its intake of migrants for the first time in ten years. The government said this week that it would reduce the number of work permits by about 14%, or  18,500.

    The government is removing bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians from the critical shortage list. Hairdressers and cooks had already been removed.  Health occupations, engineering and information technology remain on the list.

    The visa cuts will affect would-be Irish emigrants. Media reports in recent weeks have detailed problems affective Irish job-seekers in Australia.

    Australia’s unemployment rate is currently 5.2%, up from 4.8% last month.

    Related websites:

    Irish in Australia increasing, figures show

    Friday, November 21st, 2008

    The number of Irish nationals coming to Australia is rising substantially, according to Department of Immigration figures reported in the Irish Echo. The figures show increasing numbers of people immigrating to Australia under working holiday visas, employer-sponsored 457 visas, permanent residency visas, and through the Family Migration stream.  If current trends continue, 87,000 Irish nationals will be issued visas this year, up from 81,070 last year and 75,246 the year before.

    There were 7,332 working holiday visas issued between July 1 and October 31 this year, up 33% from the same period last year, when there were 5,535 issued. In the same period in 2006, there were 4,733 issued.

    More Irish are choosing to stay in Australia at the end of their one-year working holiday: between July and October, 1,239 applied for an extension, a quadrupling from the 371 who applied last year. Over 10% of those on working holiday visas are now applying for a second year.  Last year, there was a record total of 15,625 working holiday visas, and this number will increase for 2008/2009.

    The number of 457 visas, which are employer-sponsored and valid for up to four years has nearly doublied in two years.  For July to October, there were 1,220 visas, up from 670 in 2006. More people are immigating with partners and dependents: 900 of the 467 visas were to primary applications and 320 are secondary, up from 600 and 160 respectively last year.

    The number of Irish people offered resident visas from July through October this year has jumped 60%, from 391 in 2007 to 633 in 2008.

    Irish visitor numbers, however, are decreasing; the 16,730 who came to Australia on holiday visas between July and October represented a decline of 8%.

    See the article on the Irish Echo website.

    Down Under Expo: RDS, Dublin 27-28 Sept

    Friday, September 12th, 2008

    The RDS is hosting the Down Under Expo on September 27 and 28th. It’s the fourth annual running of the event, but this year it’s been expanded to include new locations: not only Australia and New Zealand, but also Canada, the Middle East and Europe.

    The event is a commercial one, and is being run by the SGMC Group, an exhibition promoter.

    Exhibitors include recruitment companies, relocation specialists, several Australian government bodies, visa agencies. The recruitment companies are heavily focused on construction and healthcare, but also feature banking and finance, engineering, mechanics, trades, hospitality and mining.

    The list of companies is remarkable: there are a large number of commercial companies, based in Ireland and in destination countries, that are involved in recruitment and relocation.

    The weekend also features a number of seminars focusing on Australia and New Zealand, covering topics such as visas and trades recognition.

    The exhibition costs 10 euro for admission.

    Visit the website.

    More families emigrating, say Australian visa companies

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    Young families are emigrating at an increasing rate, claims an article in the Irish Independent. While it cites no official statistics to back up this claim, companies specialising in immigration assistance say they are seeing more families making the move.

    Immigration consultant Nathan Brennan says most of his clients are in their 30s and have families:

    “There has been a tendency for the Irish to travel for a year or two to places such as Australia and New Zealand, and of course there is a big history of the Irish settling permanently in America. But the vast majority of people we see – over 80pc – are people aged 30 to 40 with a family. They are looking for a complete change of life and career.?

    Liz O’Hagan, similarly, says that people are moving with children:

    “People are telling us that they have lost their jobs here, are going to be made redundant and have been given two months’ notice or that their partner has lost their job. People are also worried about their children’s future. These are real families looking to move because of the economic environment in Ireland.

    “People who contacted us in 2003 or 2004 with the idea of moving to Australia are coming back to us saying they now want to go ahead”.

    There is no way to judge whether those who visit such immigration consultants, who charge for their services, are representative of those interested in migrating to Australia. It is probably safe to assume that those contracting immigration consultants would be among the more financially well-off. The report notes expanding opportunities for tradespeople and professionals in Australia. In an accompanying article, the newspaper profiles a family who has left Dublin for Brisbane, Australia to raise their young family. Read the articles on the Irish Independent website:

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