The return of the 'American Wake'

As yet another family packs their bags and says goodbye to Donegal, the Democrat has learned that pubs across the county are seeing a surge in emigration parties, or so-called 'American Wakes'.

As yet another family packs their bags and says goodbye to Donegal, the Democrat has learned that pubs across the county are seeing a surge in emigration parties, or so-called 'American Wakes'.

Publican after publican told the Democrat that they're hosting even more emigration parties than in the 'bad old days' of the 1980s.

James Cannon, owner of the Atlantic Bar says that, in Dungloe at least, all the young people are heading for Australia.

"We're calling them 'Australian Wakes' here. Nearly every day last week, there's people left Dungloe for different parts of Australia. Our daughter Laura went just last week, to Perth, and the first day she was there she went into a restaurant and ran into someone from Dungloe. She said there's another batch of girls heading out next week.

"A lot of the lads are trying to get into the mines, where the big money is. They work ten days on, four days off. There's quite of few engineers gone out, and lads in construction and trades. There's more and more talking about going out there. As far as I know, it's mainly single people in their twenties, I haven't heard of any families going out.

"There were a good few came home at Christmas and headed back out again.

"I remember the 80s when they were all going to America, but this is far worse. There just doesn't seem to be anything for them. Cowen says we don't want to go back to the 70s and the 80s but if we had the 70s and 80s back, we wouldn't need any Celtic Tiger, business was flourishing in West Donegal. We had all the fishing ports and all the factories, there was plenty of work for everyone, even entire families, and the industrial estate in Gweedore was thriving. Now there's not a job to be had here."

In the next six weeks, the Lazy Bush Bar in Mountcharles will host four going away parties for six people who are leaving the Parish of Inver, all of them hoping to forge new careers in the US, Australia and elsewhere.

Publican Mark Dorrian says that while the extra business generated by the parties may be welcome in the short term, he'd rather see his customers staying in Donegal. "I suppose it is a reflection of where we are at as a country. In our case we have three young lads from the parish who are holding a joint going away party before they travel to Australia while two other women are heading off to work on Cruise Liners while in another case the person is heading for the US.

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