This research analyses change and adaptation in four Irish rural
communities that have followed distinct paths of rural transition
from localised market towns to participants in a global economy.
Three of the four study communities – Ballaghaderreen in County
Roscommon, Cashel in County Tipperary and Millstreet in County
Cork – were traditionally agricultural market towns. A fourth
community – Castlecomer in County Kilkenny – was a market town
that serviced the needs of people in the local coal mining district.
Each community has been subject to accelerating forces of social
change – a prolonged post World War II recession, economic
reforms during the Lemass years in the 1960s, European Union
accession, the benefits and reforms of the EU’s Common
Agricultural Policy, and rapid industrial expansion during Ireland’s
‘Celtic Tiger’ years.
Each community has responded to these changes in different
ways, with a fading reliance on traditional economic activities and
ways of life, and the development of new economic activities that
are responsive to Ireland’s growing influence in the global
marketplace. Ballaghaderreen used an agro-industrial development
strategy, building export-oriented food processing facilities. Cashel
developed a tourism industry around the Rock of Cashel heritage
site, which nearly 10% of all holiday tourists to Ireland visit each
year. Millstreet successfully recruited ‘high-tech’ computer and
electronics firms to locate assembly facilities in its community.
Castlecomer employed a diverse industrial recruitment strategy
following mine closure in 1969, attracting a wool processing facility,
a caravan manufacturer, an engineering firm, and a brick
manufacturer. This study used longitudinal data of structural
change in communities – such as retail structure, industry structure,
demographic structure, and economic output indices – to analyse
differences in how effectively communities have adapted to
twentieth-century change in Ireland.
Reference list: The Policy Institute. 2008. Retrieved from https://www.tcd.ie/policy-institute/assets/pdf/BP24_Kuentzel_Rural.pdf