Many Irish emigrants returning home experiencing a 'reverse culture shock'

While returning emigrants can expect logistical difficulties, emotional challenges can be harder to prepare for

Challenges around employment, accommodation, administrative issues, and emotional well-being are said to be the main challenges facing people returning home to Ireland.

400 people took part in Crosscare Migrant Project’s research project to examine the experiences of returning Irish emigrants.

The research found that 55% of participants intend to remain in Ireland permanently, while 83% said proximity to family was the main reason for their return.

Many face very practical difficulties when returning home - perhaps around car insurance, or issues around employers recognising work experience from abroad.

However, while the logistical issues can prove frustrating, there are emotional impacts that can be more difficult to prepare for.

Danielle Mc Laughlin, Policy Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project, and James Parnell, who returned to Ireland after 16 years in Australia, spoke to Newstalk Drive in the wake of the report.

Danielle explained: "A lot of [respondents] talked about a reverse culture shock - feeling that they were starting over again, trying to get used to the Irish way of doing things.

"A lot of people found that they had different expectations or experiences when they land, to find [...] some friends had moved on, or were still abroad, or had families now so there's less interaction.

She added: "[It's] lots of people feeling isolated, and in some cases reverse home sickness as well."

'Frustrating logistics'

James said he relates to much of what the researchers found.

He argued: "The really frustrating thing for a lot of returning emigrants are the logistics - the things that you have seen in other countries to be simple, [but] are really bound up in bureaucracy and red tape.

"Luckily I kept my Irish bank account - but my wife opening a bank account, things like that, were just really frustrating and slow."

He said that while he had a clean driving record in Sydney, that did not count for anything here.

He observed: "They can transfer your licence and give you an Irish licence - why can't you get the no claims bonus and that sort of thing for the insurance?

James stressed that the logistical changes can be overcome, but the more personal changes returning emigrants arrive home to cannot really be planned for.

He explained: "The difference between your expectations and what reality is... you kind of just have to experience that and figure a way through it.

"I am referring to the fact that people have moved on, and people have their own lives, and they've lived without you for such a long time. In 16 years obviously that's going to happen... [but] I even met someone last night who was only away for two years, and she was saying the same thing."

He concluded: "You really just have to inject yourself into people's lives and make more of an effort than you normally would."