‘Home is where the heart is’? Understandings of ‘home’ among Irish-born return migrants from the United States

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Abstract
This article draws on original research with Irish-born return migrants from the United States to consider how the concept of ‘home’ is understood by this returnee cohort. Specifically, it focuses on the late 1980s and early 1990s emigrant cohort who went to live and work in the United States, and have recently returned to ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. It examines how their various understandings of this elusive spatial imaginary compares with ideas of home as articulated in recent public debates on Irish migration, return and the diaspora. Through analysis of the interview transcripts, it is argued that home – while featuring as a significant anchoring referent in returnees’ lives – is by no means an unambiguously located place. Rather, home – and the return home – for this returnee cohort is a Janus-faced experience that cannot easily be mapped onto traditional cartographies of belonging.

Abstract

This article draws on original research with Irish-born return migrants from the United States to consider how the concept of ‘home’ is understood by this returnee cohort. Specifically, it focuses on the late 1980s and early 1990s emigrant cohort who went to live and work in the United States, and have recently returned to ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. It examines how their various understandings of this elusive spatial imaginary compares with ideas of home as articulated in recent public debates on Irish migration, return and the diaspora. Through analysis of the interview transcripts, it is argued that home – while featuring as a significant anchoring referent in returnees’ lives – is by no means an unambiguously located place. Rather, home – and the return home – for this returnee cohort is a Janus-faced experience that cannot easily be mapped onto traditional cartographies of belonging.

Source: Irish Studies Review, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2009

Author(s):David Ralph
Publisher:Taylor & Francis Online
Publication Date:01 May 2009
Geographic Focus:null
URL:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09670880902885396#tabModule
ISBN:null
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