The 'green green grass of home'? Return migration to rural Ireland

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Ní Laoire, Caitríona
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There have been calls recently to challenge some of the orthodoxies of counterurbanisation. This paper contributes to this by highlighting the complexity of rural in-migration processes, through a focus on rural return migration. There has been a significant increase in return migration to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) since 1996. The paper is based on the life narratives of some of the 1980s generation of emigrants who have recently returned to live in Ireland. It focuses on those Irish return migrants who spent a substantial part of their lives in the large urban centres of Britain and the US, and are currently living in rural Ireland. Their narratives of return are explored in terms of discourses of rurality, in particular through notions of a rural idyll and belonging/not belonging. It is argued that return migrants draw on classic counterurbanisation discourses in their narratives of return, but that these are interwoven with notions of family/kinship. Furthermore, the idyllisation of rural life is complicated by aspects of the specificity of the position of the return migrant. It is suggested that rural return migrants are positioned somewhere between locals and incomers, reflecting the complexity of Irish rural repopulation processes, and that the phenomenon of rural return complicates accepted understandings of counterurbanisation.
Rural repopulation , Counterurbanisation , Ireland , Narratives
Ni Laoire, C (2007) 'The 'green green grass of home'? Return migration to rural Ireland'. Journal of Rural Studies, 23 (3) :332-344. doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.01.005
Link to publisher’s version
Copyright © 2007, Elsevier. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Rural Studies. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Rural Studies, [23, July 2007]