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We are delighted to announce Abhaile: our first-ever returning to Ireland virtual conference! Join us for a series of online events exploring contemporary Irish return migration.

Running 4-7 June, the conference programme includes panel discussions with returnees and industry experts including the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs – Consular Services Unit, Back for Business, Safe Home Ireland, the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO), and many more. The conference will also feature digital resources and virtual clinics with our team in which we will answer individual questions about returning to Ireland. Download the full conference programme here.

Named for the Irish word for ‘home,’ Abhaile aims foster discussion, inform and support Irish emigrants considering/planning a return to Ireland, as well as facilitate learning and connections between Irish organisations at home and abroad assisting returning Irish emigrants. The conference is free and open to all, but advance registration is required – please see the links below to register for various events.

This conference is made possible thanks to the support of the Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme.


Coming Home: Experiences and Identity

Wednesday, 5 June at 7pm (Ireland)

Irish returnees reflect on their experiences settling back in Ireland after living abroad. Followed by interactive Q&A.


  • Richard O’Gorman is is the originator of the #moreblacksmoredogsmoreirish slogan, co-founder of Eyerish and Jamaican, and co-owner of The Sea Moss Boss.  Richard features as a community activist in Look Back to Look Forward,’ an exhibition celebrating 50 years of the Irish in Britain, and currently hosted at the EPIC Museum. Together with his wife Taurayne, Richard recently returned from London after 25 years and is now back home in County Tipperary.
  • James Parnell returned to Dublin with his wife Anne-Marie and three children after 16 years in Sydney in 2016. He has published several articles in the Irish Times about his experience, appeared on RTE, TodayFM, and Newstalk and participated in Irish Government forums helping emigrants return to Ireland. James has contributed to Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project’s webinar on returning to Ireland with children and written articles on grief and settling in for James now provides guidance and coaching for those thinking about returning at His book – a story and guide for bold movers – is at
  • Sarah Whelan is the founder of Irish Women Abroad, an online community for Irish women living abroad or returning to Ireland. Sarah returned from Sydney, Australia in April 2023, with her husband Stephen and two children after 19 years. She had previously returned to Ireland for 20 months in 2016-2017. She is a neurodivergent mum and mentor and has supported lots of women thinking about returning or have returned home. She currently runs an online virtual assistant business called Socials by Sarah.
  • Moderator – Dr. Sara Hannafin is an Assistant Professor in Geography and Education at the University of Limerick. She moved to Ireland in 2004, having grown up in an Irish family in London. Through her research with other second-generation returnees, she developed an interest in the way in which migrants navigate their emotional attachment to particular places and how migration can prompt reflection on identity and sense of belonging.

Watch recording here

Navigating Crisis: Supporting Returnees in Distress

Thursday, 6 June at 7pm (Ireland)

While making a planned return is strongly advised, this is not always possible. Tune in as a panel of professionals in the field discuss their work supporting Irish citizens returning in crisis, from origin country to Ireland. Panel followed by Q&A.


  • Leslie Alcock is the Coordinator of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) and the Emigrant Officer for the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE). The IECE is a council of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference that aims to support vulnerable Irish emigrants in conjunction with Irish support services and chaplains overseas. The ICPO is a subcommittee of the IECE and works to provide information, support, and advocacy to Irish people in prison overseas and their families.  A native of Carlow, Leslie holds a Degree in Social Science from Maynooth University and a Masters in Social Work from University College Dublin. Leslie has extensive experience working in leadership and casework positions with various social and community services in both Ireland and the United States. Prior to joining the ICPO and IECE, Leslie was the Executive Director of the Irish Diaspora Center, a non-profit organisation assisting Irish immigrants in the Philadelphia region. Leslie has previously served as a board member for the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers (CIIC), a national umbrella organization representing Irish immigrant groups throughout the United States.
  • Patrick McDonagh is a Deputy Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Consulate Directorate with responsibility for Consular Assistance. Prior to taking up his current role, Patrick was the Deputy Consul General at the Consulate General of Ireland, Frankfurt. Patrick was also previously the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Lead Officer for Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Karen McHugh is the Chief Executive of Safe Home Ireland. She is a Social Worker by profession and has worked in the migrant sector for most of her career, with Irish emigrants in London, immigrants to Ireland and now with returning Irish. Prior to becoming the CEO of Safe Home Ireland in 2016, Karen was the CEO of Doras, a migrant support charity in Limerick and was also a former Director of an BIAS, an Irish Centre in London. Karen is passionate about human rights, inclusion, and social justice. Karen is a returned emigrant and knows first-hand the challenges faced by some Irish abroad, in particular the emotional bond and the pull factor to return home once more.
  • Sarah Owen is Project Leader with Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project, a Dublin-based non-profit funded by the Government of Ireland to provide information and advocacy assistance to Irish citizens moving abroad and returning to Ireland – particularly people returning with complex needs. A dual Irish and French citizen with lived experience of emigration, Sarah has resided in Ireland since 2004. A graduate of both Dublin City University and Maynooth University, Sarah has worked in the area of Irish diaspora support and engagement for twelve years. She is passionate about supporting people to make informed migration decisions.
  • Moderator – Niall Foster is Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project’s Policy & Outreach Officer. As part of his role, Niall is responsible for stakeholder engagement with key global partners and promoting policy solutions to issues facing Irish citizens returning to Ireland. A sociology masters graduate, Niall has worked in the field of advocacy for five years and has a keen interest in social policy, integration and inclusion. His own personal experiences of emigration have included spending time in Japan and the United States.

Watch recording here

Back in Business: Rebuilding Professional Networks

Friday, 7 June at 1pm (Ireland)

How returning Irish emigrants can rebuild their networks in Ireland and hit the professional ground running, from recruiting to entrepreneurship. Followed by Q&A.


  • Paula Fitzsimons is the founder of Fitzsimons Consulting, which specialises in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth. She was the national coordinator for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research project in Ireland for twenty years and served on the global board as the President of the national teams for several years. Well known for her ability to spotlight particular demographic groups, Paula has designed tailored programmes to support their entrepreneurial needs. Many of the initiatives that she has designed and implemented have received accolades from the European Commission and from the OECD. The best known of these is Going for Growth ( Paula responded to a challenge to design and implement a tailored initiative for returning emigrants, who have recently established a new business or are planning to do so. The result is Back for Business. The initiative is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs.  The seventh cycle of Back for Business is currently underway ( She was appointed by the then Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to the SME and Entrepreneurship Taskforce in 2020.
  • Ailbhe Mullen has 25+ years’ experience living and working worked in the hospitality, real estate, and business networking industries in New York and London.  She worked with global brands including The Meridian, The Corcoran Group, and in a volunteer Board capacity with the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) in roles including operations, project management, sales, property advisor,  and senior leadership during this time. Ailbhe returned to Europe in 2015 and she joined IIBN as Global Executive Director in their London HQ. She was no stranger to IIBN being a Co-Founder of IIBN NY Chapter since 2008. As a founding member, she continues to play a pivotal role in shaping IIBN’s strategic direction and fostering meaningful connections within the business community. In 2022, Ailbhe joined the Panel as a Senior Recruitment Consultant. She also serves as a board member of Dublin City FM. Ailbhe loves to travel and experience cultures across the world. She is a make it happen person with a can do attitude, always striving for excellence in everything she does.
  • Erin Whittle is the Group Business Improvement Manager at FRS Network and has background in recruitment and HR transformation project management. Erin and her family relocated from Melbourne Australia to Offaly, Ireland in 2017.
  • Moderator – Jack Stenson is on the Board of Directors of Digital Irish. Named in the Top 40 Under 40 Irish in America, Jack has worked in London, New York and Dublin. He is also the founder of Voyc, a Fast Company World Changing Idea Awards Honouree and startup featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Watch recording here

Other Events

Virtual Clinic

Have questions about returning to Ireland? Sign up for a one-on-one case consultation via Zoom with Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project at a time that suits you. Our Client Support Officer Damian Kirwan will be on hand to answer your questions about accessing supports upon return, navigating the immigration process with non-Irish family, and more, providing guidance tailored to your unique situation. Make an appointment here.


Check back here for the latest updates on Abhaile programming. If you have any questions, please send us an email at

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