If you’re like me then you live in rural Ireland. If you’re like me your from a farm or farming background. If you’re like me you care about rural Ireland.
I gave up city life a few years ago to return to the midlands to farm and write it was jarring at first having come from major world cities back to the quiet of the countryside. Things were different here people told me, they were and that took some getting used to again as an adult.
You needed a car to get places, shops weren’t on your doorstep and seeing friends took some organizing. Jobs were harder to come by too but luckily I had farm work to fall back on or rather fall back into.
Rural Ireland began to open up to me after a time as I began to take part once again in mass, community events, the GAA and farming events.
I saw that rather than a dull quiet place it was full of life and a gaiety of its own albeit you had to work a little harder to get there. The local pub was as good as any city café, a good club football match was as good a day as you could ask for and mass like it or loath it allowed me to see and mix with older people from around the parish.
Farming though was a great God send. It was farming that got me out of bed in the morning, it was farming that brought me to marts around the country and brought me in contact with a great and wonderful group of people the farmers themselves.
Its farmers that are the heart of rural Ireland. The men and women who work the long hours and the hard slog to keep the show on the road.
Rural Ireland its often said is not one republic but that every family is its own mini republic well I got to know that all too well.
Most farmers I knew had a day job and were glad of it but it was farming that was their passion that kept them going and up and out.
Rural Ireland faces many issues; brain drain, lack of services, lack of youth, job opportunities but in farming I began to see the whole world of opportunities in the farm and agri business sector. We have a whole indigenous workplace all around us and we are also dam bloody good at it.
Agri business is one of the great employers in the west of Ireland and keeps hundreds of families. It is one of the uncelebrated industries of Ireland.
It doesn’t make the headlines in the daily papers but its one of the life bloods of rural Ireland. We need more of it.
Rural Ireland has its problems but it also has its benefits. Peace and quiet, beautiful scenery, friendly and open people, strong community spirit that’s often sorely lacking in cities. It’s my home and I wouldn’t change it good or bad.
This is just our first issue in our new series Heartland but let us know what you love about rural Ireland and what issues matter to you.