John O'Donoghue visits the Donegal Gaeltacht to find out about efforts to attract industry to the area.
Donegal Gaeltacht is the largest of all Gaeltachts with a population of around 24,000 native Irish speakers.
It's rugged, its climate is poor and like other Gaeltacht areas nearly half of the population are under 14 or over 65. That is, not in the fully productive age groups.
Although the Donegal Gaeltacht shares many things in common with other Irish speaking areas, it has its own characteristics which are outlined in the report by American anthropologist Dr Eileen Kane.
There is a tradition of seasonal migration from parts of Donegal to Scotland for the potato season. The difference with these migrants is that they returned to Donegal to set down roots and continued to speak their native language.
A Gaeltarra Éireann report envisages a drop of 15% of those engaged in farming over the next four years and it recommends the consolidation of farms to form bigger units. There is also scope for more intensive farming as demonstrated by pig farmer Séan Ó Brien who has up to 300 pigs on a five acre farm. The cost of growing vegetables under glass is prohibitive as the climate is so harsh but the report recommends the establishment of incentive schemes to encourage farmers to engage in horticulture.
However, for many in the Gaeltacht areas agriculture is not an option. There are currently 600 people employed in manufacturing in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Eileen Kane points out that most of the managerial techniques that go with manufacturing come from America and Britain and with these come "cultural accretions" which are thought to be associated with success in industrial development. However, the people of the Donegal Gaeltacht think differently and have different ideas of success whereby they would rather help each other than compete.
The cooperative movement is very important in the west of Ireland.
Modern concepts of specialisation of labour and individuality of the worker are concepts which are alien to the people of the Donegal Gaeltacht. Therefore the incentive schemes recommended for the area don't work.
This report by John O'Donoghue for 'Seven Days' was broadcast on 11 January 1972.