The vast swathes of concrete boxes hastily thrown up around the M50 are no place to raise a family, nor is much of Dublin’s inner city. That’s why the future of rural Ireland is assured. People and companies alike will want to be there. Also, that’s where most Irish people feel most at home. An apartment without a vegetable patch and a tool shed is an unnatural environment for an Irishman.
Interestingly, the authors say that “the heave against Enda Kenny was a fight between new urban and old rural Fine Gael” and that the political culture will change as a result of urbanisation: “It is significant that the downward trend applies to all three [main] parties, suggesting that it is not just the parties’ individual policies which are turning voters off but their political style and culture. The 'Up Mayo' political ethos doesn’t wash as well in urban areas.”
It is strange that they have such a remarkably simplistic view of rural Ireland. The greatest practitioner of Irish gombeen politics was the Dubliner, Charlie Haughey. And of course, many rural people want to see Irish politics move beyond the civil war too.
In saying “urbanisation is unstoppable, and it’s where future votes and voters are” they are completely missing the cultural mood, and the effect of new technology and infrastructure. The recession has put in to focus the important things in life: family, nature, community. This trend toward an increased emphasis on quality of life was already underway pre-recession, evidenced by the popularity of television programmes like “Escape to the Country” and “River Cottage.”
People have seen through the lies of the rat race: there is no joy in hours of commuting from cramped accommodation to an office cubicle. This is not the future the Irish people will choose. Modern workplace trends increasingly support telecommuting and part-time work, many firms want to relocate to less congested, cheaper areas. Ireland’s new motorways and the reopening of old railway routes means that once remote parts of Ireland are now much closer to ports airports and main cities than ever in history.
I’m fond of dear auld Dublin and find it a great place to visit, but it mightn’t be so nice if, as authors predict, it rises in population to “nearly 2½ million people in the next 15 years."
Given current levels of emigration that seems very unlikely, but if it does become such a megalopolis, it will not suddenly transmutate in to Paris or NYC, but will more likely resemble the dull sprawling gray suburbia of the Birmingham conurbation, except with quasi-American accents. All of which will only make people all the more keen to escape and move to Kerry.
The future’s bright, the future’s rural.