Blessed with Shannon only 40 minutes away on the new motorway, and bargain flights to Heathrow with Aer Lingus, we went to London for the weekend of the midterm break to visit relatives. It was a breath of fresh air to be in a thriving city that recession barely seems to dent. I went for my run along the River Thames, with all the other fitness freaks, we went to the zoo and the playgrounds and my sister took me to Madame Butterfly which was wonderful. As I was waiting for her outside the Albert Hall in the warm Spring evening air, surveying the style, I found myself looking up jobs on my mobile. The opportunities are very tempting to abandon ship. With my skill set the wage brackets for the type of job I would probably get were £50k-£90k, I wouldn’t get a part time job in a supermarket here.
Back at the farmhouse and not much has changed yet. Politics is still turbulent with no coalition deal finalised.
The holy Irish trinity of Fianna Fáil, the Catholic Church and the GAA has now crumbled, only the GAA retaining the loyal support of all its followers. It is definitely a new page in history with no room for arrogance or greed; no Charlie Haughey speeches of ‘we must all tighten our belts’ as he bought a few private jets and islands for himself, or Bishop Casey lecturing on ‘family values’ as he planned secret holidays with his girlfriend and child.
We as a family and a country are going to need a few miracles. But there is always the tried and tested ‘luck of the Irish’.
Fine Gael has promised to create 20,000 jobs every year for the next four years. Investment will be in infrastructure, including tourism and green energy. I may get a job in renewable energy, and we have a beautiful small farm that is wasted with 10 cows and a couple of ponies wandering around enjoying the scenery, that could be developed for tourism.
In the good old Celtic tiger days we got a 40% grant for a new barn. Consequently it is quite a large swanky cow shed with a high spec roof and clear span steels. The cows only use a small part of it and the rest was the site of my husbands business. We are considering converting it into a base for a nature centre. An indoor play area could fit into the barn, for rainy days, and a farm café. Then we could develop a nature walk and cottage garden, rare breed hens, home grown veg, fresh baked scones, you get the idea.
Half of the farm is a natural habitat: Burren limestone pavement, complete with rare alpine flowers and orchids and moonscape slabs of warm grey rocks. The other half is pasture and there is an unusual tidal fresh water lake called a ‘turlough’ that is linked by an underground river to the sea half a mile away. When the tide is in the river backs up and we have a lake and when it is out we have an empty bowl.
If it succeeded we could possibly sustain our life here and the kids could stay floating in their happy bubble. It would be a real asset to the community and overseas visitors could taste the feeling of the magical countryside rather than just soaking up the atmosphere of the inside of a pub. It seems the right thing to do, promote a green Ireland, market our assets and invest in the community. But if we embark on such a huge project and it doesn’t work out…..it would be a lot simpler and safer to send off that CV to London and bring the cows to the mart.
We are not leaving yet, so we will do up a planning application and sprinkle it with holy water!