THE DEATH OF IRISH VILLAGES
Hospital, Co. Limerick is a rural village on its last legs; one by one the banks, shops, the Garda station and other community hubs have been closing. The result is a small community living in a virtual ghost town. This is a pattern that is emerging in rural areas all over the county. The impact on locals cannot be underestimated - they must travel miles to their nearest town to perform even the simplest of tasks. Bob Roberts is an 82-year-old retired teacher living outside Hospital and he tells Helen Carroll about his experiences and fears of living in rural isolation.
While many farmers struggle to make ends meet with hundreds of acres of land, The Flynn brothers in Greystones are successfully cultivating a half-acre of wheatgrass and sprouts. The exuberant twins Stephen and David, along with their brother Darragh, produce health foods in their shop and café 'The Happy Pear' in Co. Wicklow. They show Darragh McCullough how they make a living off such a small plot of land and share their health secrets with him!
The sugar beet industry in Ireland has closed down but one enterprising farmer from Cork has seen an opportunity to use food as fuel. Michael Cullinane has 25 growers contracted all over the county to produce beet which is then shipped to Northern Ireland to be converted to bio-fuel. Ella Mc Sweeney follows the beet-route and asks if there is a more efficient way to produce bio-fuels in Ireland and in a time of food shortage, should we even be using food as a fuel?
Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ