‘A State Of Mind That Needs To Be Challenged’


Houses on Inis Mor overlooking the Atlantic towards Connemara, Co Galway

For as long as I have been reading the pages of this newspaper, and observing political debate more generally, public discourse has been gripped by the trials and tribulations of a place called “Rural Ireland”.

While nobody ever defines where this place actually is, by common consensus it seems to be somewhere, or everywhere, out there “beyond the M50 motorway”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was the latest to incur the instant wrath of “Rural Irelanders” by having the temerity to suggest that the radical lifestyle changes, which every major political party agrees will need to be brought about in response to climate change, may require a future with fewer cars.

The reality is that the narrative of “Rural Ireland” is now often deployed as a catch-all euphemistic trope to camouflage the deeply reactionary, car-based culture that we have allowed to develop over the past half-century.

We know from the census data that, in general, the vast bulk of “Rural Ireland” is located within 10 kilometres of a large town or city; those commuting greater than 30 minutes to work typically have higher incomes; and live in much larger houses.

“Rural Ireland” has a lot of genuine challenges which need urgent, sustained attention, but it is not a homogenous space.

North Leitrim is not the same as north Kildare. Much of what we class as “Rural Ireland” is, in fact, the sprawling geographical extension of “Urban Ireland”, or what is more pejoratively referred to as middle-class flight.

As the debate on what we do about climate change intensifies, so too will the prominence of “Rural Ireland”.

It therefore behoves us to have more nuanced media reporting. This will require a recognition that; not only does its car-dependent legacy create very many real and practical problems for decarbonisation; it is also a state of mind that needs to be challenged.

Gavin Daly,
Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place,
University of Liverpool.


Finding ‘Rural Ireland’ (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: It Takes A Village

‘We Deeply Regret The Hurt That Has Been Caused’


Sponsored Link

10 thoughts on “‘A State Of Mind That Needs To Be Challenged’

  1. Bort

    10km to a large town that has no buses in and out of them or buses in them. My parents live in Mayo, almost exactly 10km to the nearest town. There is no bus to that town. The both drive 4 wheel drive diesels, my Dad works in construction all over the country, my Mother work in one of the remotest parts of Mayo if not the country. On roads that would kill a car and she needs to haul good as well. They also drive frequently to Dublin to look after an older relative and when they get there they need a vehicle to ferry around and help said relative. How would they survive with a shared or no vehicle? An electric car? It wouldn’t make the 3.5 hours drive to Dublin. Where would they charge it Mayo? They certainly don’t have €28,960 (inc. 5k grant) to spend on the cheapest electric car? + €1049 to install a charger at home. But keep hitting them with increased motor tax and carbon tax. Or maybe outrageously suggest they can’t drive a vehicle more than 10 years old.

    1. Jimi

      is that not specifically what he’s saying though,

      that rather than saying “we can’t do without cars, its rural out here you know” that we look at the specific challenges around all of the areas and solve them, for example better train links to towns, better shuttle buses in and out of the town to population hubs, better cycle infrastructure on non urban roads.

      Everyone is so busy digging their heels in over what they can’t do, that when we end up forced into action by floods, or drought, or something else, we’ll have missed the chance to do it right,

  2. V

    Did anyone else find that a bit condescending?

    Do we really need a lesson that parts of Ireland that are Not Dublin aren’t actually Rural at all?
    And as for being within 10k of a town/ city, you can’t qualify that properly unless you mention that many don’t have regular buses or a taxi available, or even regular post delivery.

    Ah here I’m getting annoyed now
    He’d be better off challenging his own state of mind

    1. Otis Blue

      Or reflecting on how lousy and second rate many of our urban areas actually are.

      The limited nature and poor quality of public transport is but one element of this.

    2. Ciuncainteach

      Not my read of it V.

      There is a tendency to treat people outside the pale as if they have only one homogeneous opinion on these issues. Having a more nuanced treatment on the diversity of views would be preferable to what we get now.

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link