Like Boston and Glasgow, Liverpool has long been synonymous with emigration from the Emerald Isle. For a while, the Celtic Tiger roared and the direction of travel was the other way across the Irish Sea. But the economic sands have shifted again, and Merseyside is the destination for a new generation of migrants.

Up to 75,000 Irish citizens are predicted to emigrate in 2012 – higher than the levels of the late 1980s. In a country with a population of 4.5 million, such shifts generate intense interest and the Irish Times has even created a Generation Emigration blog, with the headline styled up as a departure board.

With rising unemployment, young people, particularly men in their late teens and early 20s, are turning to other European countries, Australia and the Middle East for work. There are now 356,000 Irish nationals living in the UK, latest Office for National Statistics figures show, with the number of arrivals second only to Polish immigrants.

Emigration has not run at such high levels since 1989, when 44,000 people left. Its impact was underscored when the Gaelic football association was unable to field teams last winter because there weren't enough men on the Dingle peninsula.

Liverpool, which has a long history of immigration from Ireland – up to three-quarters of its residents claim some Irish genes – is experiencing a new wave of Irish migration.