The growing popularity of remote working has given the West of Ireland “the best opportunity” to revitalise rural communities.
That’s according to the Western Development Commission Chief Executive Allan Mulrooney, who was speaking to Lunchtime Live after a survey from Leitrim County Council revealed 61% of millennials have considered moving to another part of Ireland.
“There has been a brain-drain for a very long time in the West of Ireland, people who needed to go to Dublin, to London, to Dubai, to Canada to grow their careers,” he said.
“They don't necessarily want to or need to be in Dublin anymore … what's changed is you can now have a global career.”
Mr Mulrooney said infrastructures such as schools, roads, and housing must be adjusted to accommodate this influx of people to the rural countryside.
“Housing is one of the biggest issues we've always had across the country, but for the first time in a very long time, the West of Ireland is also suffering from that,” he said.
“We really need to look at how do we revitalise rural towns, rural communities.
“This is the best opportunity we've ever had for the West of Ireland to renew itself to keep people here earning really good salaries, who want to buy houses and raise the kids here and grow a life.
“Unless the infrastructure and support mechanisms are put in place, we may miss a large part of that opportunity.”
‘Never looked back’
Sarah, who lived in Dublin for eight years, moved to the border of Tipperary and Waterford in 2021.
“Dublin was completely home, I was so settled there I loved it,” she said.
“What changed during the pandemic was when access to [nature] was taken away from me.
“I really started to notice [nature] is my toolkit for me to feel well within myself and my own health and well-being started to suffer a little bit.”
Sarah decided to set up her own nature therapy business in 2020, which coincided with her move to rural Ireland.
“I set it up in Dublin and I still work there regularly … but for me, it made complete sense for me to just be based in the countryside.
“I really can't see myself moving back to the city at all.
“You go back to Dublin in the summer and around Christmas time, it's very vibrant, there's lots going on, but I never regret driving away from it and living out at home.”
Sexsiopa.ie Founder Shawna Scott said as a business owner, Dublin became too cramped for her.
“I couldn't afford to expand at all within Dublin,” she said.
“I lived in Dublin for 15 years, I did not want to leave Dublin, I loved Dublin so much.
“I'm kind of in an interesting position where moving to rural Ireland both worked and didn't work for me.
“I originally moved to Sligo, while I loved Sligo and I wanted to buy a house up there, but there was no housing.
“I found a place in Galway, about 35/40 minutes outside of Galway city so I got really lucky there,” she said, “I have better mental health because of it because I've got green space at the back, I've been able to have a dog.”
“It's completely bittersweet that I had to leave a city that I loved so much because I wasn't able to afford it and I couldn't expand my business because of it.”
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