What drives the modern-day commuter?
With 200,000 people commuting for more than an hour to work everyday, Amii McKeever reflects on how she ended up sitting in traffic on the M7 most days and why she is happy to do it.

Many people may have agreed with George Lee, the RTÉ environment correspondent, when he referred to my commute as a “head-banger experience” on Countrywide last Saturday. But as crazy commutes go, I am most certainly not alone.

I was on the show speaking about my recent electric car commuting experience.

I started to think about the people that sit in cars beside me every morning on the M9 and the M7 heading to their places of work

I drive from south Kilkenny to Dublin, and back about four times per week and George, a Dublin-based electric car driver, thought this was an insane endeavour. Following this exchange with George, I started to think about the people that sit in cars beside me every morning on the M9 and the M7 heading to their places of work. What is it that forces them to do the same thing as me most days?

One common question I get is: “Why don’t you just live in Dublin?” Firstly, I don’t want to – I want to raise my kids in the country with access to schools and a back field. But I didn’t always think like this and living in Dublin was considered before the children arrived.

But back in the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger, my wages (which were not bad to be fair) would only have enabled me to purchase a one-bedroom, first-floor apartment that was still a considerable distance from my place of work.

Come 2010, with the Tiger bust, many of my friends who had made this leap were in a negative equity situation

I went to see many such apartments. The lack of a front door, natural sunlight in the entrance hall, outdoor space and the reality of a mortgage I would not pay off in my lifetime encouraged me to ignore the pressure to get on the property ladder. Come 2010, with the Tiger bust, many of my friends who had made this leap were in a negative equity situation.

This limited their ability to buy their “forever” homes for a long time thereafter. While many people will commute purely for a job that pays, I also believe in liking what I do. We spend a considerable amount of time at work so if you can find work that you enjoy, you should definitely try to make that work.

So, while building a house in Kilkenny might mean a long commute, for me, it’s well worth it for all the other bits.

The other eye-opener was that in 2016 there were 43,372 parents with pre-school children who spent an hour or more commuting to work

CSO data that was referenced on the radio show was from the 2016 census of population. The stats showed that from the start of 2016 to the end of 2019, the number of people working in Dublin increased by 96,000. I wonder how many of these extra workers are commuting into the city every day? While the data states that the average commuter drives just above 28 minutes and that only 10% of the population do more than an hour of a commute, this 10% is almost 200,000 people.

The other eye-opener was that in 2016 there were 43,372 parents with pre-school children who spent an hour or more commuting to work, which was up 8,027 (23%) from the 2011 stats. Seems I am not alone in my desire for a life outside the M50 for my children and I wonder what changes census 2021 will reveal.

Meanwhile, I hope that you are getting your entries together for the Women and Agriculture awards supported by FBD.

The contribution of women to farm businesses often goes unrecognised and these awards give us an opportunity to shine a light on the dedication, resilience and ingenuity that women in Irish farming communities demonstrate year in year out. Now is your chance to apply or to nominate someone that you believe deserves this recognition. Full details here.

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