South Kerry Gaeltacht looks for a clearer picture of local housing needs

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Tadhg EvansKerryman

If you want to attract people to your locality – or give those already there every opportunity to stay – it’s important to know exactly what it is they want and need. The Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht region is an area that has suffered badly at the hands of rural depopulation over many decades, so this information is particularly vital to locals there.

On that note, Baile an Sceilg (Ballinskelligs) will host an ‘affordable housing workshop’ this Wednesday, and it is hoped it will be a significant step towards identifying what the locality needs in terms of housing.

Self-Organised Architecture (SOA) and Tascfhórsa Uíbh Ráthaigh have arranged the Wednesday-afternoon (March 29) event for the Halla an Pobail between 2pm and 4.30pm. It will feature an exhibition, public workshops, and an explanation of what community-led housing is – and how such an approach could work in Uíbh Ráthach.

It is hoped the event, as a whole, can canvas a broad range of views. For example, it will include two workshops for potential future residents, at 3pm and 3.45pm, and as Caitlín Breathnach of Tascfhórsa Uíbh Ráthaigh explained to The Kerryman, the people within that bracket can make for an eclectic mix.

“The workshops are for people who are not living in Uíbh Ráthach and have no connection with the area but are interested in living here; people who are living here who are looking for reasonably priced housing; and there are people originally from the area but are living elsewhere currently, and maybe they want to return,” she explained.

“We’re also having an event tomorrow night [7pm, Tuesday, March 28] in Ionad na Dromod, and we’ll be looking at the supply side. There are a number of houses – particularly as you drift in from the coast and into the likes of Dromid – idle, and we’re trying to focus in on them with their owners, to see what opportunities there are to bring them into the long-term rental market. What would be needed to have them up to scratch for that market?”

Wednesday’s event is open to anyone, including community stakeholders and organisations, and SOA and Tascfhórsa Uíbh Ráthaigh representative will be present to converse with.

It is hoped the thoughts gathered will feed into a housing-needs assessment currently being carried out for the locality, and the intention is to hold more events for potential future residents in the coming weeks.

“If we can combine the information we gather at the event in Dromid on Tuesday and Baile an Sceilg on Wednesday, we would have a much clearer picture of what it is we need to do from a housing point of view,” Caitlín added.