Monday 20 November 2017

Declan Lynch: False delicacy obscures the true picture of 'rural isolation'

Tackling the plight of the poor ould fellas requires not pious pity but a sense of rage, says Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

The story of Michael McMahon, who cycled for 30 miles in darkness in Co Clare to get to a nursing home, has raised again "the issue of rural isolation", as they say. Or the issue of the poor ould fellas, as we have been calling it.

And the terminology is important here. Because even after a case as terrible as that of Mr McMahon, who was driven out of his home in fear of burglars, there is a certain lack of clarity in the official language being used. A kind of a false delicacy, in which our old friend "rural isolation" is joined by smooth-sounding terms like "older single men", who are in need of "social initiatives".

Always I have felt that there was something missing in these otherwise well-meaning efforts to address the problems of the poor ould fellas, and eventually it occurred to me that what is lacking there is a sense of rage. What I hear is not anger, but a pious and a pitying attitude which says, "ah-sure-God-love-them".

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