Over 70% of Irish people feel our sense of community is declining

Some problems cited by those in rural areas include slower broadband and a lack of jobs

Know Your Neighbour, Macra na Feirme, community, rural, urban, broadband, Niamh Hourigan

New houses pictured in Clongriffen in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

A new survey has found that seven in 10 (71%) of adults feel children today feel a lesser sense of community than they themselves did growing up in Ireland.

This rises to three quarters (75%) of adults living in urban communities.

The Macra na Feirme 'Know your Neighbour' campaign, in association with Calor, also found that not being familiar with neighbours is more prevalent in urban communities, with almost one in six saying that they do not know their neighbours at all, versus just one in 20 of people in rural communities.

Most people (41%) say that although they are friendly with their neighbours, they would not socialise with them.

However, people in rural communities are far more likely to socialise with their neighbours with over one in five (21%) saying that they would versus just over one in 10 in urban areas (11%).

Commenting on the research Macra national president, Seán Finan, said: "Those living in isolated parts of the country with limited access to services rely on their closest neighbours for support, security and friendship."

"The aim of 'Know Your Neighbour' is to bring everyone together at community events, to get to know these neighbours and establish a strong support network. I am encouraging every community, rural or urban, to get involved."

Proximity to friends and family

Urban and rural dwellers have conflicting priorities with 'peace and quiet' selected as a positive aspect of living in a rural community according to 75% of people - while 89% of urban dwellers believe that convenience is king.

Proximity to friends and family is important universally, with four in 10 rural dwellers and half of urban dwellers saying that it is a positive aspect of where they live.

Other priorities for rural dwellers include friendly people (60%), a sense of community (45%) and a feeling of security (34%).

When asked what aspects of rural life frustrated them, top grievances include slower broadband (63%), a lack of amenities (59%), a lack of local infrastructure (48%) and a lack of job opportunities (45%).

In contrast while urban dwellers appreciate the availability of entertainment facilities (34%), public transport links (31%) and job opportunities (24%), they are frustrated by traffic and congestion (56%), the cost of living (42%), noise (35%) and having to live in smaller accommodation (23%).

The research was conducted through an online survey of 512 adults aged 18+ across the island of Ireland.

Professor Niamh Hourigan is head of the Department of Sociology at University College Cork.

She says the survey also unearthed some odd findings.