It has become a constant refrain in Ireland over recent years that provincial areas are losing out to the cities, and especially to Dublin. Hard evidence does not feature in these complaints and there are regular assertions that are simply not true. For example, the overall population of rural Ireland is rising while local politicians warn of rural depopulation as if it was widespread.

There are indeed rural areas where population has fallen but there are many more where numbers are on the increase. One of the complaints, and a reasonable one, is that retail outlets in the smaller towns are struggling. But they are struggling too in the cities, as a stroll along any of the secondary shopping streets in Dublin or Cork will confirm.