Monday 27 February 2017

Tiny island's pupils are indeed Leaving

Paddy Clancy

PUPILS of one of the country's smallest Leaving Certificate classes will all leave their home island because of a lack of jobs, it was predicted yesterday.

Ten students are doing their exams on the island of Arranmore off Donegal.

But local fishermen's spokesman Jerry Early said yesterday he doesn't anticipate that any of them will find a job on the island.

A radio documentary on Saturday will highlight how fishing restrictions have impacted on earning capacity on the island and how its population has fallen over a few decades from 800 to 500.

A pub that used to be open seven days is now restricted to weekends, and the rowing team, once the pride of the island, has been disbanded because of a lack of members.

Islander Helena Gallagher, who fished with her grandfather and rowed boats from an early age, emigrated 20 years ago to find a job and she became a broadcast producer.

She returned to produce Saturday's documentary, 'Survival of an Island', and discovered that the fishing community is down from 100 people to 15.

"They have been banned from fishing for 48 species," she said. "This could spell the death of the island."

Hugh Rogers, chairman of the Donegal Islands Fishermen's Association, said: "Salmon fishing wasn't taken away by a European government. It was taken away by the Irish government. It was worth €195,000 to Arranmore the last year they fished.

"That mightn't seem a lot of money but, spread among the island community, it meant families could stay and live on the island. When you take that away, there's really nothing else but unemployment."

Mr Rogers said three of his four children had emigrated to America and the fourth went to the mainland.

"I have a son who would come back with his family if he could fish," he said.

'Documentary on One: Survival of an Island' is on RTE Radio 1 on Saturday at 2.02pm.

Irish Independent

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