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Rural Ireland dying?

rural irish roadJust over a month ago, I mentioned that many rural Irish communities may be facing extinction. As it turns out, recent news stories are reporting that is exactly what is happening.

Galway East TD Joe Callanan reported last week that a third of rural pubs in east Galway have closed since the new drink driving laws have taken effect.

That’s only over the period of a month. How many more will be closing in the coming weeks?

The rural Irish community is dissolving as access to their social centre – the Irish pub – is closed off. These rural and often elderly Irish people do not have public transport, they must drive themselves into their local villages.

With the new drink driving laws putting a breathaliser onto every gardai’s utility belt, these rural people are terrified to drive anywhere after consuming even one drink. The result is rural people staying at home instead of going out. The result of this is the closure of an awful lot of pubs in this country.

Personally, I know people here in Athlone who have lost jobs in rural pubs due to their closure.

Irish officials have been making suggestions of varying practicality on how to address this issue. Cork East TD Ned O’Keeffe “We could have a two-tier system,” he said. “I could have 80 milligrams in an urban area and 100 milligrams which would be fairly normal in rural Ireland and that would give people a chance at having two pints and then they’d be working within the law because most people who go to the local rural pub are retired people and they go for their game of cards.”

Generally, most politicians don’t find a flaw in the current drink driving laws, but agree that rural communities are in trouble. Suggestions of night busses or subsidised taxis have come up. Others suggest that the general centralisation of Irish society and government services, not the new drink driving laws, are what is really to blame for the disintegration of rural Ireland.

In any case, the problem is coming to a head and many villages are becoming ghost towns. The last place to close its doors in these dying communities is the public house.

The fact is rural Irish pubs are dying out and it’s a damn shame.