Why should migration patterns always be from rural to urban? The answer is: they don't.
A change in migration patterns sees people leaving city life behind in favour of rural living in county Clare.
Sculptor Jim Connolly from county Clare has attacked the conventional wisdom on emigration and won. He wants to reverse the emigration trend that affects the very fabric of rural life. A year ago he made an appeal on The Gay Byrne Show for the unemployed of Dublin to move west. The theory behind his argument is that,
They may as well rear their families where the environment is free, where the space is free, in the west of Ireland rather than in overcrowded cities.
To encourage people to make the move Jim is providing help to families with finding work and a space to live. He has also begun a campaign to establish resettlement packages for families on the move.
Evidence of the decline in rural population can be found in the education system. In Kilbaha school there are now just 22 pupils. In 1970 there were 73. School Principal Kitty Garvey comments on the threatening decline in teacher-pupil ratio in rural schools. If these schools are to survive, they must attract more pupils. In the case of the Kilbaha school, they are already seeing this happen with two pupils who have recently joined the school having moved from Dublin.
The parents of Susan and Stephen Murphy were one of the first couples to respond to Jim Connolly's appeal and make the move to county Clare. Paul Murphy left a job as a bus driver in Dublin to move to Clare, and is now working on a FÁS Heritage Scheme, but hopes to become a full-time writer.
The move is not as straightforward for everyone. Councillor Sean Keating recognises that there is a lack of jobs in the area which are needed to attract new residents. Despite this, more Dublin families are planning to make the move. Alisdair Jackson chats to two families from Clondalkin in West Dublin who are seizing the opportunity to move west.
An RTÉ News report by Alisdair Jackson broadcast on 5 March 1991.