A housing scheme in Clare tries to reverse rural population decline and bring life back into country villages.
Until recently, Feakle, County Clare, was just another rural community that was slowly but surely losing its young people to emigration, be it to Britain, Shannon, Limerick or Dublin.
Twelve months ago, there were only three people between the ages of 20 and 30 living in the village. But thanks to the work of the Rural Housing Association, by next April twenty young families will have arrived to breathe new life into a community that might have been just another statistical casualty of the industrialisation of Ireland. In all, twelve villages in County Clare have been designated for housing development.
Originally from Feakle, Father Harry Bohan is based in Shannon, and along with a group of local people, set up a house building cooperative, the Rural Housing Organisation, in 1969.
Prior to being based in Shannon, Father Bohan worked with communities in the British midlands, and saw that basing people in large population centres was not always of benefit to them. He believes in giving people who want to return to Ireland the opportunity to move back,
I believe that a displaced person is a discontented person, and you just can’t keep on forcing people out of the areas where their roots are without expecting trouble, so this is really the reason...we didn’t force them, they said to us they want to live here.
By using the available local government grants, and borrowing the remainder, the Rural Housing Organisation is giving the opportunity to people to live in an environment in which they are best adjusted to, at rock bottom prices. Already, over 30 local tradesmen are employed. Reporter Denis Mitchell points out that affordable housing is possible when the will is there,
In these days of spiralling house prices, the Feakle experiment certainly shows that expensive corners can be cut.
This episode of ‘Enterprise’ was broadcast on 12 February 1973. The reporter is Denis Mitchell.
'Enterprise' was a series of topical reports on developments in money, industry and science, and how they affect the people of Ireland. 'Enterprise' was presented by Michael Ryan and produced by John Kelleher.