Bringing it home: Working towards the regeneration of rural Ireland

A Donegal couple knew they were taking a chance when they returned to their roots

 Seamus McHugh: “Thankfully it has worked out – the kids will go to the local primary school and the commute will be no longer a problem in the mornings.”

Seamus McHugh: “Thankfully it has worked out – the kids will go to the local primary school and the commute will be no longer a problem in the mornings.”

 
Donegal natives Séamus McHugh and Niamh Walsh knew the time was fast-approaching when they would have to make perhaps the most important decision they had faced as a married couple.

They had two small children who would soon be going to creche and putting down their own childhood roots in Dublin, but wondered should they stay in the capital or escape back to a quieter life, and their families, in the northwest.

Last October both Séamus (38) and Niamh (35) decided to approach their respective employers to examine the possibility of working remotely from Donegal. To their delight, both companies agreed.

Since then Séamus, who works for retail software company CBE, and Niamh, who works with Cushman Wakefield, a branch of estate agency Sherry Fitzgerald, have been calling Donegal home again. They moved to Niamh’s native village of Carrigart, not far from where Declan grew up in Cranford.

“Thankfully it has worked out – the kids will go to the local primary school and the commute will be no longer a problem in the mornings,” said Séamus.

Access to fibre broadband was a must for the couple, who can get speeds of between 40 and 50mbps in Carrigart.

Although both are working from home, they are part of a group who are in the process of setting up a digital hub.

“Even working in rural Ireland, I think people like to separate work life from home life and that is why we are trying to set up this digital hub,” he said.

“We have met Údarás na Gaeltachta and we are hopeful this can become a reality soon. We have spoken to at least four other people in Dublin who would move back if this digital hub was there.”

He said setting up similar mini-digital hubs in towns and villages across Ireland could be hugely beneficial economically and could lead to regeneration of rural Ireland.

“If Google announces 400 or 500 jobs for Dublin then that is great news. But if you break it down, then four or five jobs coming back to a village like Carrigart is just as good,” Seamus said.

“Many of those looking to relocate back to rural Ireland to work remotely have decent salaries and those salaries will be spent directly in local shops and putting down roots in the locality.”