Case study: 'No one is doing anything about it'
Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30
THE neon light above the Village Grill flickers on and off, announcing to an empty street and the odd passing car that the restaurant is open.
When local publican and councillor Danny Healy-Rae was growing up, his hometown of Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, boasted two restaurants, six pubs, three butchers' shops, four hardware stores, a post office, and a creamery among the 26 thriving local businesses.
Today, there's just three pubs and two shops, one of which incorporates the post office. The garda station closed last year.
Mr Healy-Rae says the village is hardly recognisable from the place where he grew up in the 1970s.
"Except for the street lights the whole place is in darkness at night and there's nothing going on."
The politician courted controversy last year after proposing a permit system for rural dwellers allowing them to drink and drive.
He tabled the motion at Kerry County Council after attending the funeral of a local man, the third to have committed suicide in the area over a short period of time.
He puts the death down to rural isolation, noting that every second house in the wider parish has lost a family member to emigration, and in some rural areas like Rossacroo, Crohane and Curraglass, he has counted 16 vacant houses, with another 20 in Shandrum.
"Nobody is shouting stop," he says. "We're losing our culture and no one is doing anything about it."