From a Special Correspondent
Across the 200-year-old bricks of a derelict mill in a village near Tipperary are painted the words; " Bansha Rural Industries."
Inside, jam boilers are being fixed where looms once stood, and on the farms all around, fruit trees, to keep the boilers filled, are being planted.
has been set apart for knitting Another wing of the mill machines and furniture making
Behind this village enterprise is the Very Rev. J. INC Hayes, parish priest of the village of Bansha, who is leading his people in an adventure in rural reconstruction.
He is practicing what he has preached for ten years, as the founder of Muintir Na Tire. the national movement for the revival of the Irish countryside.
Its aim is not only to provide a profitable market for local produce, but to stop the .drift of the young folk to the big cities. Shares in the enterprise have been taken up by villagers of all classes, and the directors, unpaid, are Mr. Tom Brosnan, the creamery manager, Dr. James Russell, the local G.P. and J. J. Holloway, an old Bansha boy, who is to-day a Dublin jam manufacturer.
But the real moving spirit behind the enterprise is Fr. Ilayes, chairman of the local Muintir Na Tire Council. In his presbytery, looking out across the snow-capped Galtee mountains, he told me how he came to launch this vigorous movement, which to-day enlivens 140 Irish towns and villages.
Curate in Tipperary in the early 'thirties, he founded several growers' associations to secure a fair deal for the farmers in the sale of their produce.
he said, " I began to get afraid of it all. It was all purely materialistic. After all, it's no use a man having £10,000 a year if he and his wife are always fighting. . . I decided we had to have a movement which was social as well as economic."
The result—after two years of planning—was Muintir Na Tire, the People of the Land. Each section of a village enrolled in a guild, its farmers, its labourers, its business and professional men, its young folk, would elect a representative to the village council. And the village council would consider what needed to he done.
Muintir Na Tire village councils have built local halls, bought communal machinery, run demonstration plots, got signposts and bridges erected, opened cinemas, staged dances and lectures, revived local fairs.
They have provided an outlet for the energies of the young folk, who organise sports and local dance and fife-and-drum hands. Moribund villages have come to life. There's a magazine, a year book, and all through the year the Bansha Presbytery buzzes with activity. For this cheerful energetic little priest has as then a grasp on the practical details of rural economy as he has a profound understanding of spiritual essentials.
Now he has ideas for a summer school where young Irish youths and girls would learn the latest agricultural methods; an exchange scheme for English and Irish farmers' sons; a credit plan by which people would put down in advance a sum to purchase the produce of a given fraction of an acre. and a scheme to fix up Irish village holidays for English folk through the Muintir Na Tire councils. In fact, he is brimming over with ideas.