Return Migration and Belonging in Rural Ireland: Methodological Considerations


  • Christina Noble University of Aberdeen


Associated with the success of the 'Celtic Tiger' economy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ireland has seen a rapid demographic shift from large scale emigration to immigration. For the first time Irish-born migrants comprised the majority of this immigration flow (Ní Laoire, 2008) but have received negligible attention from academic researchers. Significantly, many returnees have returned to the predominately rural counties along the west coast of Ireland which historically bore the largest numbers of emigrants. For the most part their return, which is commonly equated to a return 'home', does not recognise that it can never be exactly the "same" place to which they return. This article seeks to discuss return migration in Ireland using an ethnographic approach influenced by the mobilities turn in geography. In particular, life story interviews will be discussed and reflections on the 'doing' of life-story interviews opens up space for reflections about this methodology as a way in which the structural openness of migrants' lives can be accommodated. Keywords: return migration, mobility, life stories and Ireland