High unemployment and emigration take their toll
Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30
BUNCLODY GAA club used to field five men's teams; these days it's lucky if it can put out two.
The town on the Wexford-Carlow border was pinpointed by Teagasc as the rural town that's suffering most in the recession.
High unemployment and emigration left Bunclody ranked last in a countrywide index of 302 rural towns.
Local election candidate Barbara Anne Murphy said she is not at all surprised as the town has been devastated by the loss of construction jobs and massive emigration of its young population.
"So many people aged between 20 and 40 have left, whole families are gone.
"They've gone all over the world to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England and to America, though they mightn't even have visas," said Ms Murphy, a Fianna Fail candidate who was chairperson of the local GAA club between 2010 and 2012.
For years Bunclody had been highly reliant on construction jobs, with many people commuting to Dublin and elsewhere.
However, the property crash forced hundreds to leave the country to find work.
Local estate agent Barty O'Connor said that the town was like others in rural Ireland, which were still struggling from the downturn.
But Shillelagh Foods and Emergency Response Ltd – an alarm monitoring service for elderly people – remains an important local employer.
"The main thing the town needs is higher consumer spending as we have a good hotel and a golf course, and good shopping, so there is infrastructure if people had more money to spend," he said.