This week the All Ireland Ploughing Championships are on! The largest event held in rural Ireland and indeed one of the largest outdoor events in Europe. It has me reflecting on why I live in rural Ireland.
I grew up in Co Wexford in the sunny south east of Ireland. When I was 17 years old, I could not wait to get to Dublin (aka the Big Smoke!). However, when returning home from China with a small child, I knew I wanted to return back to the countryside. There are a few reasons why and how you can do it too!
To be honest, the first reason I moved back was because of my family! I am a big believer that it takes a village to raise kids. That village may be easier to come by if you have family only a few minutes away to call on. For me, having my parents and other family close by has been good for my mental as well as physical health. Only last week, Pat was working late so my parents stayed in my house when the girls were asleep so I could go to my yoga class!
But lots of people who live near me have no family close by so the quality of life must be top of the list.
Quality of life
Living in the countryside is fantastic. The fresh air, the beach if you are by the sea, the mountains, the fields, the woods, the list goes on and on. Relatively speaking, there is a choice of good schools and little fear that your child doesn’t get a school place.
Then there is a extra space at home too. A lot of people in the countryside can afford bigger home or garden than those in the city as its cheaper! Also since I have little patience for traffic especially traffic with small kids in the car, I am grateful every day that the only time I need to be concerned for traffic jams is briefly at about 9am and 3pm in our local town.
All in all, probably due to the reasons above, people tend to be more chilled out and friendly.
However, there is sometimes a problem when it comes to getting good, well paid, challenging roles in the countryside. This leads to the dreaded commute. I briefly commuted to Dublin, it certainly wasn’t for me. My husband by choice commutes and he does find it every hard and won’t do it forever.
So what’s the alternative?
The internet and fibre broadband (ok not everywhere has fibre yet, lobby your local TD asap!) has revolutionised how we work. Even if people do commute now to the cities, they are often working from home a few days a week. Conference calls, skype, cloud based systems allow for serious flexibility!
The very idea of working remotely will have a great impact on rural Ireland and has to re-invigorate rural communities. If young people can return to raise their families to where they were brought up and continue to use the excellent skills they learnt in university and in their travels. It’s a win for everyone. Friends of ours in Co Wexford have created Abodoo, an online platform that connects you with remote working opportunities. How exciting! Check out http://www.abodoo.com
Start your own business
For me, moving back home to rural Ireland gave me the push I needed to started my own business. Through the programme, Acorns, supported by Department of Agriculture and CEDRA, I have some amazing business women.
My eyes have been opened at how the women from all over Ireland are innovative, creative and supportive of each other. From coffee shops on the Wild Atlantic Way, premium chocolate to software, all corners of Ireland are abuzz with great ideas who are now trading.
Paula Fitzsimmons, who has created and runs the programme, recognises how important small businesses are to Ireland. She knows that these businesses go on to create jobs and help in building and supporting communities in rural Ireland.
Have you just started a business in rural Ireland or do you have an idea for a business? Apply for this programme now, the call out for applicants for Acorns 3 closes on Friday 22nd of September. Receive peer to peer learning and support, excellent workshops and presentations and network with the backbone of rural Ireland, women! See my roundtable group with our lead Mary B. Walsh below. For more information go to www.acorns.ie
What you waiting for? Move out of the major urban centres and down the countryside!
Please note representatives from Abodoo and Acorns will be at the ploughing this week if you want to learn more!