Monday 26 September 2016

Ireland's loneliest townland

Published 17/07/2016 | 02:30

SOLITUDE: Bunglass cliffs in the Bluestack Mountains. It is the most isolated stretch in Ireland, with only 16 occupied homes. Photo: Tony Gavin
SOLITUDE: Bunglass cliffs in the Bluestack Mountains. It is the most isolated stretch in Ireland, with only 16 occupied homes. Photo: Tony Gavin

It is the loneliest stretch in the country, with only 16 occupied homes along 42km of isolated highland road in Bluestack Way, Co Donegal.

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Poor broadband, lack of public services, difficulty maintaining a work-life balance and a huge outward migration of young people has local community life in danger.

CSO figures this week revealed the population grew nationwide by 3.7pc in the past five years, but the largest outward migration came from Donegal, which lost 6,731 people.

James McGroary reared his four children in Drimarone in the Bluestack Way. Two now live in Galway, one is in Dublin and the other is preparing to leave for Canada.

"There are townlands up there in the Bluestacks that had up to 25 houses during the 1940 and 1950s. Now you have two," he said.

"Our phone coverage is so bad that I have to go to the top of the garden to get a signal and the broadband is as bad. Broadband is the one thing we vitally need."

The Government is now being forced to respond and is considering launching a new National Countryside Recreational Strategy to preserve recreation and social activities in Ireland's most rural communities.

It could see annual funding under the scheme double from €1.8m to almost €3.6m.

Mr McGroary's neighbour, Joe Meehan (68), said: "There would have been a lot of people living along the Bluestacks about 50 years ago, but it is very sparse now.

"Things have got much quieter since 2006. It is not- iceable - all of the young people have gone. Most of them are in Australia and Canada. If you pop in to the local pub at the weekend, it is very noticeable that it is quieter."

Sunday Independent

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