Ghost Towns in Ireland
Ireland has had a troubled history, both politically and economically and for the main it lays most of the blame on its neighbour, Britain.
It’s a beautiful country, populated by the stereotypically happy Irishman with his lilting accent and the more serious minded Irish women who in the past have borne the emotional pain of the hardships the country has faced.
It’s the land of the leprechaun, the little person who hides his gold at the end of the rainbow knowing the end can never be reached. It’s home to the shamrock, a luckier version of the clover and the Blarney Stone, blamed for all exaggerations.
Here Guinness was first made and has now become a world recognised brand. It’s a country famed for the quality of its racehorses, fed on lush green grass watered, some say very well watered by Ireland’s famed soggy climate.
The countryside shows why it’s called the ‘Emerald Isle’ for on a sunny day, the lush fields virtually glow a deep green and barely an inch of the countryside isn’t cloaked in it.
Its cities are renowned too, Dublin, the favourite haunt of stag dos and hen nights where Grafton Street and its environs throb, not so much to disco and house as many European cities might but to the sound of the Irish folk band getting everyone up and dancing to the cheerful energetic melodies and rhythms. Cork, altogether more tranquil and the capital of the south of the republic, sees fishing boats ply their trade in the stormy waters of the eastern Atlantic.
All the gaiety of the country masks a dark and dismal past. For centuries, the country was under the control of the British. The country agreed to fight on the Allied side in the Great War on the condition that independence would be looked upon favourably at the end. Britain’s reneging on promises led to the Irish War of Independence fought by the IRA against British targets in Ireland. Whilst seeking independence, the tactics used amounted to terrorism but ultimately a truce was called and through a variety of stages, the Irish Republic was formed.
In the middle of the 19th century, Ireland had further reasons to be unhappy at its subjugation by the British. Potato blight disease struck the potato crops for several years, decimating the crop and consigning the whole population to starvation. The Great Hunger of 1845 to 1849 was a direct result that saw no help from the British. In fact British exporters in Ireland were still exporting what was left of the crop to the mainland during the famine, taking the last remnants of food from the Irish. The effect of this selfishness was that nearly a third of the Irish population died. Of the rest, many decided to emigrate to other countries, notably the United States. Whole communities left their towns and villages, some parishes and districts completely emptied of people and many ghost towns resulted.
Some rose from the despair of those times to flourish again in the ‘Tiger Economy of the 90s and 00s but the prospect of further heartache looms as the economy sinks in the recession and the government exercises savage cuts to prevent bankruptcy. We may not have seen the last of ghost towns in Ireland.