Page 11, 27th May 1938

27th May 1938
Page 11
Page 11, 27th May 1938 — SECRET OF IRISH RURAL DECAY

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From Our Own Correspondent. DUBLIN.


seen last went out Mr. MacEntee launched his ten million loan at par, bearing 31 per cent. and at once took up four million of it for funds in his control, leaving six million for the nation.

The demand was prodigious, and nobody is getting more than a fraction of the block applied for; the most interesting aspect of the demand, I think, is that a huge proportion was asked by investors in the North, as T learn from brokers in Belfast. There is confidence up North that " Eire " has. come to stay! The folk who are investing in " Eire" evidently realise that their future is bound up with it.

DUBLIN BLEEDS THE COUNTRYSIDE Radio Debate on Depopulation

There was a fine debate on the Irish radio a few nights back, on the problem of rural decline—the gravest topic of the day for Irishmen. It was led by Mr. Brian McCaffrey, chairman of the League of the Kingdom of Christ, better known as An Rioghacht.

Mr. McCaffrey spoke of the destruction of the countryside which results from an economy, like that of Britain, which is weighted against the land, and said that town families seldom survive the third generation. If Ireland was to escape she must break free from the English financial and currency systems.

Dr. B. J. Senior argued that Dublin has increased its population greatly of late, but it was easy to show that this is due to influx from the decaying countryside and not to urban fertility. Mr. W. F. Phillips blamed the dullness of country life--the dullness which townspeople imagine to exist if there are not plenty of cinemas and other artificial amusements for the outdoor mind.

Mr. Diarmind Fitzpatrick said that economic pressure, and the neglect of afforestation and drainage to give plenty of rural employment. were to blame.

" I See the Rural Virtues Leave the Land "—Goldsmith A rural resident, 1 think, would give a different answer to any of these speakers. Let me describe a typical rural parish in present-day Leinster:

1) Employment is plentiful. There is not one able-bodied man idle. Afforestation and other Government-subsidised works withdraw so much labour that farmers cannot get the help they need.

(2) Young men who never before knew they were unemployed are classified as unemployed simply because they work for their fathers instead of for employers; so you may see them marching to the barracks to enrol for relief money, which is best described in the soldier's word " buckshee." These young men will not give a day's work to a needy farmer because it would disqualify them for the money that they get without work.

(3) Marriage has totally ceased. The girls of the parish go daily by bus to the towns to mind machines and draw wages which they spend on finery, cosmetics, cinemas and dances. Home baking has died out, and the food standards of the people have shrunk to the devitalised standards of the town.

Empty Cottages (4) Every few months cottages fall vacant as old folk die, and as no new couples are setting up homes the cottages

are boarded up. The benches at the church are occupied by fewer and fewer every year; in several townlands there are so few school-going children that the schools are amalgamating and the teachers wringing their hands over shrinking " averages " and consequent loss of pay.

(5) Money abounds as it never abounded before, save in the " boom " years of the Great War, but it is needed for shopbread, dances and other commercialised amusements; so that families which now have an income several times as large as when seven, eight, nine or ten persons were supported, now find it hard to support three or four—the two old folk and two unmarried young people.

That is the present-day countryside; and Caere is no material reason whatever why it should not be populous and fertile as of old; but a mental change has come, which the giddy amusements and loss of patriotism foster. The talk about monetary reform and giving more and more wages all points in the wrong direction—it simply means the greater urbanisation and greater sterility. Materialism has struck us, and now people want to remedy it by more materialism.

Will money make marriages? No.

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