The biggest issue facing rural Ireland at the moment is making sure that there is a “new purpose for rural towns and villages”, according to Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link.
The non-profit organisation represents over 600 community groups, of which 25,000 people are members.
Another challenge facing Irish Rural Link, according to Boland, is managing to retain the people in rural communities; both people who are farming and not farming.
“I’d like to think that Irish Rural Link will be able to look back on the coming 30 years and say we finally managed to create an infrastructure like broadband and resolved settlement patterns so that we now have properly serviced towns and villages,” he said at the organisation’s 30th anniversary conference in Athlone last week.
He also said that he hopes farms will not only produce food but also electricity.
Alive and kicking
Minister for Rural Community and Development Heather Humphreys told the conference that rural Ireland is “alive and kicking”.
She said that remote working as a result of COVID-19 has seen younger people move back to their rural communities, adding that her Department is on course to meet the target of 400 remote working hubs in rural communities.
“When we educate our young people, we want them back in rural communities.
“For too long, we said goodbye to them,” she said.