Rural Ireland must embrace tourism


Sir, – In his opinion piece John G O’Dwyer (July 25th) points to a key issue affecting the demise of rural Ireland when he says it is lack of services, not population decline that is killing rural communities.

People won’t stay in or relocate to places lacking basics like shops, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities. For businesses seeking to locate in or within Ireland, quality of life is a key indicator of suitability of any site. If a place lacks the things that attract and retain qualified young people, there is no point in looking at it as a potential base for investment. This simple concept appears lost on decision-makers in rural Ireland who think that a few grants or tax breaks will make everything all right.

The “black triangle” that includes south Sligo, east Mayo, east Galway and north Roscommon can never attract jobs and the stability of population that goes with them because it lacks the kinds of services mentioned by O’Dwyer.

He is right when he says that rural tourism supports local services. Why then do farm leaders, county councillors and TDs in this area oppose the notion of providing the infrastructure that attracts leisure tourists, the people whose spending could keep our local services alive?

Every time government tries to provide this infrastructure, be it the Dublin-Galway Greenway or the proposed Western Rail Trail on the route of the effectively abandoned western rail corridor, farm leaders and local politicians rush to oppose it. They describe tourism in disparaging terms as “Dublin 4 types on bikes”, and not as something to make the difference to small shops and businesses, while providing off-farm income for farm families.

In any enlightened country, a greenway passing by his gate is seen by a farmer as an opportunity. Here in the “black triangle”, it is seen as something to be fought against and as an opportunity to build a career as a champion of negativity.

Our woes are not all the fault of the “Dublin government”; around here, we are the authors of much of our own misfortune.

– Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.