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Does despondency about Irish towns sell more papers?

This question came into my mind as I read Simon Carswell's article in the The Irish Times today, hopelessness is the currency of the media's narrative about Ireland's towns.

The concentration of negativity in his article is unavoidable -

"Vacancy rates in Roscommon are among the highest in the country, with its towns plagued by dereliction....12% of its residential buildings were vacant, second only to Mayo. "

"Locals see the economic strength of the country disproportionately leaning towards Dublin & east. “There are two Irelands. You could draw a line down the middle of Ireland. You are on the wrong side of the line here,” says .. a local solicitor & chair of the Strokestown Town Team, a group of residents trying to sustain & restore the town."

“It was poignant, the end of an era,” he says.....Strokestown was, at one time, home to three department stores; now there are none.

“There is no retail going to come into Strokestown because you don’t have the population to support it ...."

"There were once almost 30 pubs in Strokestown. Their number has fallen to single digits....."

"..loved working in the Brothers of Charity shop in the old NI Bank branch.....Now the two former banks are empty & the charity has relocated elsewhere in the town."

"Housing policy analyst .... fears more businesses will pull out of towns & force customers to shop online as broadband coverage becomes more widespread. “It's only going to get worse as broadband rolls out,”

Yes, there were one or two optimistic comments in the piece "Audrey.. is optimistic about Strokestown’s future because of the local “town team” & the energetic residents looking to reinvent and improve the town. " but the overall narrative is that in the 21st century Irish towns are a failed concept and basket cases.

As our national paper of record surely there is a responsibility on respected journalists in the face of disempowering gloom to share hope through awareness of national initiatives like 'Our Rural Future's' for example.

We at DigitalHQ clg completely challenge the defeatist narrative in the media about Irish towns. It is appropriate in a way that the article references my home town of Dún Laoghaire as this is where our living lab has evolved a 'Digital First Communities' framework to help communities take ownership of their own economic destiny.

The essence of my TEDx talk ( ) is that localities need to do what they can with what they've got. While not all the solution, the pride of localities can be increasingly empowered through digitalisation.

We at DigitalHQ clg want to be part of the solution and are sharing our work free with any community that it can help -

It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!


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