A look at the effects of emigration on the West Cork town of Skibbereen.

A social survey by John A Jackson to investigate the motives behind emigration has been carried out in the small town of Skibbereen in County Cork, with the findings published in 1967. Skibbereen was chosen for the survey because in the ten years up to 1961, it had a high rate of emigration. 

Emigration is endemic in Skibbereen, and the decline in the population has had a knock on effect in the retail trade, with many shops going out of business. However for those prepared to move with the times, there are retail opportunities to be found. One shop that reorganised as a supermarket increased turnover by 50% in the first week of its relaunch.

One quarter of teenagers expect to stay in Skibbereen, another quarter expect to emigrate to Britain. Of the young people interviewed, one wants to join the navy, another wishes to train as a nurse in England and another believes opportunities lie in the factories of Cobh. Just one teenager interviewed, Mary Murphy, is not keen at the prospect of emigrating for work. 

I wouldn’t like to go to Dublin because I don’t like city life,  but I would like to get it anywhere in County Cork.

Mary has her Leaving Certificate and is doing a course in commerce. She hopes to get a job as a clerical officer in the County Council, or in insurance. There are few opportunities to use new skills and education in Skibbereen, and it is essential to bring in new kinds of activity to the area to ensure young people demand further training and education. 

A new industry in Skibbereen is the vegetable processing plant. However tourism is the biggest new industry in the area, and it has contributed to the development and success of new service industries, as well as more the obvious advantages to hotels, employment and income.

This episode of ’7 Days’ was broadcast on 31 October 1967. The reporter is John O’Donoghue