Devoured daily by metropoli­tan sprawl

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COVER STORY - Cor­ma­c­sea­

An­other world ex­clu­sive truth here today, in re­la­tion to our DNA, which is all the buzz just now af­ter re­searchers re­cently an­nounced the first Ir­ish­men were black of skin and blue of eyes and, by most ac­counts, as thick as the wall, in or­der to sur­vive on a dan­ger­ous is­land.

How much has changed since?

I’ve done my own re­search for all of you, with re­gard to the modern DNA sit­u­a­tion in Ire­land, and the re­sults are very stark in­deed. Again, the pure and fright­en­ing truth. It emerges DNA in Ire­land is dif­fer­ent to DNA any­where else. I dis­cover that DNA in the Ir­ish con­text is short­hand for Dublin’s Nau­se­at­ing At­ti­tude to­wards those of us who still man­age to eke out some kind of liv­ing in what is left of the long lone­some stretches of ru­ral Ire­land.

In blunt lan­guage, with the as­sis­tance of suc­ces­sive Gov­ern­ments, Dublin is now in the fi­nal stages of suck­ing all the life and youth and en­ergy out of the prov­inces.

It is now truly, and sadly Greater Dublin. Be­cause our younger gen­er­a­tions have to head there for eco­nomic and so­cial sur­vival as soon as they are old enough to fly the home nest. The jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties have all been grabbed for the past decade and more by Dublin and Dublin­ers. They are glee­fully bleed­ing us dry, and laugh­ing all the way to the bank. His­tory has been turned on its head, be­cause it is those of us who bat­tle to sur­vive in ru­ral Ire­land who re­side in the new Pale.

Quite shock­ing, is it not? Just one sport­ing re­al­ity hall­marks the sit­u­a­tion. Even be­fore Easter brings on the GAA cham­pi­onship, we know for sure the Dublin foot­ballers will win Sam Maguire again next au­tumn. This is largely be­cause most of the red blood in the veins of the star play­ers in blue has been filched from the prov­inces. The ma­jor­ity of them sprang from coun­try boys and girls who, in their youth, had to leave their ru­ral homes, and lo­cal un­em­ploy­ment, to find jobs in Dublin. Mean­while for­mer king­pins like Kerry, Cork and Gal­way, weak­ened through the loss of so much new blood to the banks of the Lif­fey, are strug­gling an­nu­ally to even win provin­cial ti­tles. Cute Enda Kenny of Mayo, the out­go­ing fa­ther of the Dail, an­nounced this week that he was re­tir­ing and would not fight the next elec­tion. He prob­a­bly can­not bear the bur­den of see­ing Mayo’s sur­viv­ing foot­ballers beaten by a Dublin point next Au­gust. An­other pure enough truth. Provin­cial cities like Cork, Lim­er­ick, Gal­way and Water­ford have some chance of tem­per­ing the worst ef­fects of the in­sid­i­ous DNA, but one has only to drive through the in­creas­ingly de­pop­u­lated smaller towns and vil­lages of our new pal­lid Pale to ob­serve the dam­age done al­ready. For me, a very sig­nif­i­cant in­di­ca­tor is the num­ber of closed and rust­ing petrol pumps in vil­lage af­ter vil­lage. The ve­hi­cles of the ris­ing gen­er­a­tion who are em­ployed are now daily trapped in Dublin’s traf­fic jams.

Of­ten, too, the shops that once op­er­ated the pumps are closed down with for­lorn “For Sale” signs over their doors. The foot­fall is all one-way, east­wards, as things stand. In our ru­ral­ity, with its ag­ing farm­ing pop­u­la­tion, an as­so­ci­ated stress is the clam­p­down on driv­ing laws. We need our wheels crit­i­cally more ur­gently than city folk. We can­not af­ford to lose our li­censes be­cause we drank a pint of porter at the wrong time on the wrong night or, worse still, had to drive some­where on the morn­ing af­ter the night be­fore in the lo­cal. No­body can for­give fla­grant drink driv­ing, for sure, but the en­forced iso­la­tion im­posed on ru­ral dwellers by mo­tor­ing reg­u­la­tions has many neg­a­tive con­se­quences too, in­clud­ing, some ar­gue, a ris­ing ru­ral sui­cide rate, es­pe­cially amongst lone farm­ers who might not speak with other hu­mans for en­tire days on end, be­cause of their oc­cu­pa­tion. You and I can both at­tach some names and dates to the cold sta­tis­tics. Greater Dublin, as they call it, has al­ready sub­stan­tially weak­ened the iden­ti­ties of coun­ties such as Kil­dare, Wick­low and Meath. We hardly have 26 in­di­vid­ual, proud coun­ties any more. They are devoured daily and weekly by metropoli­tan sprawl. Where is that process head­ing, in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture? I don’t know the an­swer. Mean­while, se­condary roads just about ev­ery­where in the prov­inces are in a dread­ful state, wors­ened by Storm Emma, at a time when big mo­tor­ways seem de­signed to speed up en­forced em­i­gra­tion to Dublin.

We all know too well that monthly rent rates in small Dublin apart­ments for in­com­ing provin­cials are higher than the mort­gages at­tached to fine spa­cious homes in the new Pale out­side Dublin. So many of these fine homes re­main un­sold, be­cause of the lack of lo­cal em­ploy­ment and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

It is de­press­ingly sad. I re­gret that the re­search into our DNA sit­u­a­tion is so gloomy.

I will try and have a brighter story next week. Happy Easter in the mean­time to you all.

As the cap­i­tal grows and grows, the jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties have all been grabbed for the past decade and more by Dublin and Dublin­ers, says Cor­mac. The new Pale is the dis­ad­van­taged coun­try­side.

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