By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — People are coming home in their droves, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office , which show that net immigration reached a record high of 22,800 in the year to last April.
The number of returning Irish and immigrants arriving and the rising birth rate brought the population up by 44,300 to 3.7 million — the largest yearly increase since 1979.
The CSO figures show that while 21,200 people left the country, 44,000 arrived.
More than half of all immigrants (52 percent) were Irish people coming home, compared with 19 percent with UK nationality and 13 percent from other EU countries.
The figures indicate that people are going away to work for a few years and then returning when they are older.
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The UK was the destination for 40 percent of emigrants, while it was the origin of 48 percent of those arriving.
The figures show the number immigrating to America has more than halved from 9,600 in 1994, down to an estimated 4,300 this year. Similarly, the number emigrating to the UK will be down to 8,500, compared to 16,400 in 1993.
The number arriving from the UK will be 21,100 this year, compared to 15,200 in 1994. The number arriving from the U.S. will be 4,900 down from 6,600 in 1997.
Figures for the "rest of the world" shows the number of immigrants will be 9,300 this year, compared to 4,800 in 1994. Only 4,300 will emigrate to the rest of the world this year, compared to 76,300 in 1993.