"Most countries send out oil or iron, steel or gold or some other crop, but Ireland has had only one export and that is its people."
John F Kennedy’s comments made in Cork in 1963, held true up to the most recent economic collapse when over 300,000 people left Ireland. But a "litany" of administrative barriers are deterring Irish emigrants from returning home.
"One in every four households lost somebody through emigration. Now during the recovery, it is government policy to encourage people to come to work," said Ciaran Staunton, Chairman of the US-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.
He added: "It is estimated at least 400 Irish citizens a week are returning home. There is a litany of obstacles for young people coming back. Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen used to say the success of the Celtic Tiger was built on those returning in the 1990s, who left in the 1980s.
"That couldn't happen today. As soon as they would land in Ireland the seamless transition is gone. There are faced with one obstacle after another."
Among the obstacles faced by returning emigrants are the high costs of motor insurance. Motorists lose their no claims bonus when they are abroad for five years.
Mr Staunton cited a recently returned couple in their 30s who were quoted €4,500 for motor insurance.
Difficulty obtaining driving licences is another issue as Irish driving licences expire after ten years. Licences from certain US states such as California and New York are not recognised in Ireland and cannot be exchanged for an Irish one.
Helen McFadden, from Cortown, Co Meath, recently returned after living in the US for 17 years. She had a full driving licence for ten years while living in California.
She said: "I was driving on busy six-lane highways. Now I am back and I have to get my Irish drivers' licence which encompasses my theory test and taking up to 12 lessons. I have had to get learner driver plates again. It could take up to eight months before I get my test."
People returning are also having difficulty opening bank accounts as you need a utility bill in your name. Accessing loans, such as mortgages is also difficult as you need a credit history in Ireland.
Young farmers returning home cannot access farm grants unless they have a 'Green Cert' which takes two years to obtain. They also need domestic tax returns to prove their earnings are below a certain threshold.
In 2015, the Government launched a social media #hometowork campaign, while 2016 was the first year since 2008 that the number of Irish people returning from abroad outnumbered those leaving.
Galway woman Sinead Morcoss spent nearly 20 years living in Dubai. She recently moved to Drogheda with her husband and three children. The secondary school teacher believes there are so many obstacles that people may start to go abroad again.
She said: "It is certainly an option to look at moving back to a country that does give us a good quality of life but perhaps does not give us the Irish roots that we so desperately want our children to have."
She added: "People are having difficulties getting back to work because a lot of companies here tend to be quite dismissive of overseas experience. They put huge value on relevant Irish experience. When you have been away for a long time it is not really valid. Therefore getting long term contracts tend to be difficult for people. It's easier for us to get jobs overseas than it is here in Ireland."
The Minister for Diaspora, Ciarán Cannon, said Indecon consultants have been appointed to undertake a detailed economic report on barriers to returning Irish emigrants. The report will focus on identifying "solutions to disproportionate or unnecessary administrative" barriers.
Minister Cannon said that report will be published before the end of the year and an inter-departmental response will follow.
He is also working on issues such as the exorbitant motor insurance premiums and has met with the Irish representatives of Insurance Ireland last week. The representative body for insurance companies is now putting a protocol in place whereby claims-free driving from abroad could be counted in Ireland.
Mr Cannon, a TD for Galway East, said the experience of returning home "should be as positive and easy as possible for people".
A Facebook page set up for Irish expats coming home has 10,000 followers who use it as a forum to share their stories.
Two campaign groups - Safe Home Ireland and the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform - have organised a meeting for returned emigrants in Galway city tomorrow. The Minister for the Diaspora is attending.
Mr Staunton said: "We are streaming it live online so Irish people around the world can watch it."
He believes Ireland owes a debt of gratitude to over 300,000 emigrants who left during the recession.
He concluded: "They took a lot of pressure off. The USC charge would probably double and Ireland would actually be in an economy like Greece if those people had stayed.
"They did a great service to the State and now they are coming home. The State shouldn't be saying 'tough luck, you left'. They should be saying we want you back and we are going to make life easier for you."