I'd agree with Robin Hood that software is the new big industry in Ireland though I'd have to disagree (partly) with his assumption that more Irish people are returning than leaving.
For the reasons stated by walshbj, housing costs/living costs etc., I have seen countless friends and neighbours searching out better wages and comparatively less expensive places to live and that usually means emigrating to the "big three", USA, England or Australia.
The construction/building industry has been booming in recent years though it does show signs of slowing as land is getting harder to find and much too expensive to develop for purely housing needs.
For those who haven't gone on to third level education there are few career choices and any jobs available to them are poorly paid compared to the cost of living in the "New Ireland".
Those that stay have already carved out their career path in such industries as software development etc. and therefore can somewhat afford the spiralling cost of living.
The "Celtic Tiger" IMHO was just a moniker put around by a government who, while lowering corporate taxation to attract big business, did little to curb the excessive price rises in necessities such as housing and consumables for the ordinary citizen. That 'Tiger' made many already wealthy people even more so and left joe public to wonder exactly where the money went when he added up the bills at the end of the month.
The promised benefits of moving from the 'Punt" to the 'Euro' never materialised. If anything it made things much more expensive than before. You only have to drive an hour up the motorway, cross the border and watch the many hundreds of 'free-staters' load up on food, electricals and alcohol as if there were no tomorrow (although things are pretty bad "up there" also). Things are not as rosy as some might have you believe.
Indeed, it is a problem that needs to be tackled, though it is harder to cure a sore when it has been left to fester for so long.
In response to walshbj's question... people are suddenly driving BMWs and going on weekend golf excusrions for 500 Euro a night because the government has told them they can
live the dream, only thing is they have to re-mortgage to do so.
OK. Rant over... now, BUY *insert your country here*