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The Demise Of The Rural Irish Town
 
# 1 : Friday 4-5-2018 @ 18:25
 
 
From my travels around the country in recent years, I see a lot of problems with medium sized Irish towns in general with the midlands counties seemingly being the worst affected (but by no means limited to just the midlands).

Unless they are particularly picturesque and host a significant tourist attraction or are coastal or are within the commuter belts of Dublin and Cork and are feeding off the economic power of these cities, many seem to be in serious trouble.

Why?

I think there are a multitude of factors at play here...

1. Atrocious planning. Allowing a free for all of rural one off housing in the environs of these towns over the past 50 years meant that very little or no middle class housing estates were built in these towns and this meant that the only estates to be developed in these towns were local authority ones. This led to the towns getting a “rough” reputation, discouraging private housing development in the towns and leading to more people wanting to live in rural one off housing outside these towns. This led a vicious spiral of decline.

2. Loss of key major employers/ industry. The loss of the sugar beet factories in the 1980s/90s effectively decimated towns like Tuam and Thurles as a huge proportion of these towns’ wealth was dependent on these industries, workers would support local shops and businesses etc (the “multiplier” effect). Also the failed IDA policy in the 1960s to 1980s of trying to lure branch plant assembly factories down to rural towns backfired badly as they simply upped sticks and abandoned the towns they were in after their tax breaks ran out. Again decimating their host towns economically.

Major industry these days wants to be located in major urban areas close to airports, motorways and skilled and diverse young labour force, not in a midlands town with poor roads (and back the 1970s and early 80s for those too young to remember) a 3rd world telephone system.

3. Poor redevelopment/tax incentive strategies. When Ireland’s economic fortunes started to change for the better in the 1990s onwards, it might have seemed that many of these towns in decline might have had a shot at recovery. But at this stage, the horse had bolted by then - emigration in the bleak 80s robbed them of their skilled youth, industry had moved on and would no longer locate in these towns and badly designed shopping centers and ugly “retail parks” were allowed spring up, often outside the town centre itself, cannibalising the retail trade in these towns. In any case, many of these retail ventures failed and lie half vacant. Also poorly built and very poorly maintained apartment buildings thrown up at the edge of these town centers which in less than 15 years have aged very badly. Indeed many ended up in NAMA and are half-built empty shells as there was no real demand for such accommodation in the first place.

Poor internet/broadband connectivity to some of these towns hasn’t helped either. The decline of the rural pub is also very noticeable in these towns. Rural towns that had 8 or 9 pubs 15 years ago perhaps have 3 or 4 now.

Closure of local services such as Garda stations and post offices has badly affected the small towns. Increased car mobility for those who can travel mean more and more are shopping in bigger urban centers, furthering the decline of local businesses.

Thoughts on my theories? Are these towns in an irreversible decline to the accelerating trend of urbanisation? I know many UK towns face similar problems but from my travels in Continental Europe the medium and small town seems to still be doing well. Can local industries and enterprises be revived or invested in? Can some of these towns see a renaissance?
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# 2 : Friday 4-5-2018 @ 23:22
 
 
Should a tax break, be offered to businesses who set up in towns?
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# 3 : Saturday 5-5-2018 @ 09:35
 
 
I think they can be saved, acress to high speed broadband could help them attract home workers.

Lower commercial rates, free parking and a focus point in each town, could help them.
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# 4 : Saturday 5-5-2018 @ 13:18
 
 
Are these towns in an irreversible decline to the accelerating trend of urbanisation?

I'm not seeing it. In fact I'd say it's the opposite. The town i'm living in in rural Cork seems to have a new business opening every week.
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# 5 : Sunday 6-5-2018 @ 09:27
 
 
That's great to see, lets hope they keep their prices reasonably fair and not get greedy?
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# 6 : Sunday 6-5-2018 @ 15:09
 
 
Someone said :

I'm not seeing it. In fact I'd say it's the opposite. The town i'm living in in rural Cork seems to have a new business opening every week.

That's great in the case of your town sugartits but it certainly is not the case with many other rural Irish towns. Is your domicile in tourist West Cork or within the city's commuter zone perchance?

Towns in the midlands outside of Dublin's commuter zone are not faring too well in many cases. Esp towns in the 1,500 pop to 5,000 pop category. I'm doing research into this at the moment.


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# 7 : Sunday 6-5-2018 @ 23:07
 
 
Kilmacthomas in Waterford would make an interesting addition to your research Jupiter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilmacthomas. When the Waterford to Cork bypass was opened it slowly started to die & was pretty much on its knees by the time the Waterford to Dungarvan green way opened, within a year it has seen a total resurgence as has been testified to many a time on/in local media.
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# 8 : Monday 24-12-2018 @ 23:32
 
 
In my town there is no transport, no train station, no medical center, and no food online shopping for older people who can not get to the shops. The goverment promised this state of the art wifi and we still don'r have it. The government closed the health center, the train station and CIE decided they did not want to come to the town. And also closed a disability center, and recycling plant that was creating jobs, now they want to close down the local shop to make way for the likes of lidl and supermacs, and they also built on top of the old Barracks which was a tourist spot and now can not even see the last foundations of the Barracks because a factory has gone on the land. They also have decided to close the local post office and also want to close the Garda station. And I would like to make a point without farmers you would not have meat, dairy, and other farm grown products. And this brings me to the point where the government now want farmers to take on this cheap brazilian meat that is no way as nice as Irish beef. And a choice of only two tv companies to choose from who charge a fortune for sports, and other channels and we are paying more for our tv package then what people in Dublin have. And it is the same package yet we are charged more.
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# 9 : Monday 24-12-2018 @ 23:40
 
 
That is a totally shocking attack on rural life. The Brazilian beef is shite, inedible chewy muck, what is going on here.?
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# 10 : Tuesday 25-12-2018 @ 12:02
 
 
I've noticed one thing about rural towns, they'll fleece you with prices and their business attitude is shite!
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# 11 : Tuesday 25-12-2018 @ 13:07
 
 
Someone said :
I've noticed one thing about rural towns, they'll fleece you with prices and their business attitude is shite!

Yeah.
It doesn't exactly encourage shopping local , when they charge so much more than a large store. Then they cry when they have to shut their doors. What do they expect?
It's like bars removing all forms of entertainment and then wondering why people aren't scrambling to get in on a Thursday night.
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# 12 : Wednesday 26-12-2018 @ 20:14
 
 
Someone said :

Yeah.
It doesn't exactly encourage shopping local , when they charge so much more than a large store. Then they cry when they have to shut their doors. What do they expect?
It's like bars removing all forms of entertainment and then wondering why people aren't scrambling to get in on a Thursday night.

Yeah but the local store cant afford to get the same discounts from large suppliers as the out of town large store.
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# 13 : Wednesday 26-12-2018 @ 21:03
 
 
Someone said :

Yeah but the local store cant afford to get the same discounts from large suppliers as the out of town large store.

Obviously.
So close the doors and move on. Find another way to make a living.
Times change. Change with them.
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# 14 : Thursday 27-12-2018 @ 16:36
 
 
It's not just rural Ireland anymore.. Major town centers are starting to crumble as well.. High rents, high rates, high taxes, high insurance, staff expenditure etc. is rapidly killing the high street.. Nothing left in Waterford now but, Cafe's/restaurants/charity shops.. Very few jobs will remain in retail sector soon, as the online market takes over..
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# 15 : Thursday 27-12-2018 @ 17:39
 
 
I was shocked that there is one price for locals and another ( obviously higher ) for out of towners / tourists .
All that does is make us resent being fleeced, not come back and go where prices are normal .
It's a very short sighted practise.
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