Here is the presentation made by Ciara Brennan as part of the Alive O Festival.
It is well worth a read – it gives both a concise overview of parish as it is – as well as a comprehensive treatment of the challenges facing us for the years ahead.
Killeagh Inch 2020
I was asked to give this talk as a member of community. In my personal capacity I am delighted to address the subject of Killeagh/Inch 2020.
What I would like to do in the course of the next 20 minutes or so is look at the amenities that the Killeagh/Inch community currently has to offer and look to the challenges which both The Killeagh/Inch community and indeed any other rural town in Ireland faces over the coming years.
The Killeagh / Inch community as a rural Irish parish has experienced many changes over the past number of years and many changes can be expected by 2020. It is difficult to predict these changes but we can look at how we can work together to make our community a better place to live and work. Even looking back 10 / 15 years ago who would have thought that most of the population would have mobile phones, wireless internet, Facebook and other Social Media and even the notion of purchasing a bottle of water was almost shocking. Now these things are taken for granted and for many a necessity. The next 6 years will undoubtedly bring many challenges and changes.
When I came to Killeagh I was very surprised by how much this community had to offer.
As we all know Killeagh / Inch has many amenities. We have a number of community facilities, including four primary schools, two churches, Community halls, convenience stores, post office, crèches, a pharmacy, Garda station, veterinary clinic and public houses, and is served by regular daily bus services, which operate between Waterford, Youghal and Cork City. Our local businesses provide essential services to the community and produce fantastic local produce.
Killeagh / Inch has some valuable amenities including the Killeagh GAA grounds. Didn’t Laura Treacy, Hannah Looney and Angela Walsh do Killeagh GAA proud recently by bringing home the O’Duffy Cup when they formed part of the Cork Camogie team that won this year’s All Ireland. They showed spirit and determination that is an example to us all and is yet another all Ireland cup back to Killeagh. A success story like that can lift the spirit of the whole community. Indeed over the years the Killeagh / Inch community has produced some notable people including Mark Landers, Joe Dean and Bernard Rochford. Indeed, we must not forget our footballers either.
We need to continue the invaluable work being done in the Killeagh GAA as we move towards 2020, the time and effort being put into it by both the volunteers and the players. For such a small parish we have produced exemplary players. May we go on to produce many more boys and girls, men and women of this fantastic calibre not just for 2020 but for future generations.
Apart from the GAA, Killeagh and Inch has much to offer in the line of sport :
For a small parish Killeagh / Inch hosts not one, but two Point to Points.
This year saw the establishment of a new local soccer team, “Inch United School Boys” set up by locals in Killeagh. The soccer club uses Sexton Park and the new Astro Turf in the school in Inch. The community is reaping the benefits of the newly-constructed all-weather facility at Inch National School. It was built by Killeagh Inch Community Council in partnership with Inch National School. The new Astroturf caters for all levels of clubs from juvenile to adult level, local schools and is available to recreational users. The Astroturf has been a huge boost to many people in the community.
Another amenity Killeagh offers is the beautiful and romantic Glenbower Wood. Again thanks to the initiative of locals in Killeagh we have the benefit of a most beautiful playground which is enjoyed by so many children on a daily basis?
Music in the Woods is enjoyed annually by many.
Glenbower Wood has its own development group which ensures that this fantastic woodland park is maintained and available to the general public.
It is hoped in the future to re-develop the Lake but this has been hindered by the high cost involved. Perhaps by 2020 it could get the much needed corporate funding necessary to carry out this work.
Killeagh/Inch hosts an array of organisations and clubs for both the young and the active retired persons and all those in between.
The ICA, Irish Countrywomen’s Association is the largest women’s association in Ireland, with more than 10,000 members. The ICA in Killeagh provides a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and lifelong learning. Members of the ICA also get involved in their local communities and local charity events.
Foroige is the leading and most successful youth organisation in Ireland and we are lucky enough to have our community host such a club that enables young people to help develop themselves personally and to develop in society.
The Scouts in Killeagh run by dedicated volunteers give local boys and girls the opportunity to participate in many activities that allow them to build personal skills, values, and self-esteem. Some common activities include camping and other outdoor activities, earning badges and awards for completing tasks, and community service.
The Monday Club provides an outlet for men and women wishing to avail of companionship through monthly meetings, chat, outings, interest groups, guest speakers and classes. As part of this year’s Alivo Festival The Monday Club hosted an Intercultural Exchange last Wednesday which proved very successful.
The Toddler Groups in Killeagh and Inch allows pre-school children to play together while the parents can enjoy a cup of tea and a chat.
We also have a Historical Club and a host of beautiful Choirs.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is active in our community.
We can see the extent to which our existing community facilities enhance our lives. As we move towards 2020 our community will face many challenges. One of the main challenges will be:
The financial crisis has affected families in all communities, but rural areas are faring worse than most. Unemployment is 2pc higher than the national average of 11.10pc, and is significantly higher in more isolated areas. Emigration has seriously affected rural communities.
Dependency on Public Services
With increased levels of emigration and the migration to our cities, the rural population has become dominated by those who are more reliant on public services. This also deprives rural areas especially the active retired persons of family support. If the economy doesn’t improve we could face having a two-tier nation with young people either emigrating or living in cities and the rural aging community increasingly reliant on state supports to survive. With only 40% of men in their 80’s and 15% of women in their 80’s holding driver’s licences this means that older people are often dependent on public transport. One Government Scheme that is organised locally by SEACAD – South East and Cork Area Development is a bus that runs every Friday from Killeagh/Inch to Youghal which is free for the active retired persons and only €5 for anyone else. We should encourage people to utilize this invaluable service. This loss of population might result in fewer essential services being provided in many small areas, with severe impact on local economies.
So what is our economic future for the people of Killeagh/Inch as we move towards 2020? Who can say exactly? How many of us predicted the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger and the Financial Crisis that followed? But what we do know is that we need an economy that is more sustainable; we need growth, development and employment. We need emigration to decrease and we need to bring back to Killeagh some of our nearest and dearest who were forced to leave Ireland to seek employment elsewhere. We need a Government to step up to the mark and lead us back to economic growth. However we too need to take responsibility and play our part in this. Ideas such as The Gathering have proved very successful.
The Government aims at attracting 40,000 jobs with Foreign Direct Investment between now and 2020. For every 10 jobs created in multinational companies, an additional 7 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy. A great place to live and work, good infrastructure, low corporate tax, and educated people make attractive locations for foreign investment. The Government‘s handling of this economic crisis will have the biggest impact on how the country will look in 2020. Where we, as active participants in the community can play a role, we need to do so, to bring additional employment to Killeagh.
Pensions are another challenge that we face. Recognising that people are living longer and healthier lives, the state pension age will be increased from 66 to 67 years of age in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. The state has undertaken a reform of the pensions in recent years as people need to be confident and secure about their pensions so that they can look forward to retirement, confident that they have pensions and that their pension is safe.
The Government faces a challenge to align pension age and benefits to the demographic conditions we face.
Over the next 10 years the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase by approximately 50%.
For every pensioner we have now there are around six people at work to support them. By 2060 this figure will be less than two people of working age to every person aged 65 and over.
By 2020, second careers and working beyond retirement age will be more commonplace. It will be become rare for individuals to retire and go straight to pensions and more common for workers to reduce their hours in their 60’s and supplement their pensions with a salary. We will see the Government and the EU requiring employers to facilitate this.
The Post Office is a key national resource. It is more than a commercial entity; it serves a valuable social purpose, which plays a unique and important role in our community. Post offices face an uncertain future with the increased use of technology including email and falling revenues resulting in Branch Closure. Many rural post offices have closed. In 2020 we want our Post Office in Killeagh to exist – to continue to provide this valuable service to the community.
There are four vibrant national schools in Killeagh / Inch. There are always projects and improvements which need to be done. A reoccurring theme from the feedback I got from the schools is the need and importance of volunteers to assist the schools with for example membership on the school councils.
There is a concern about the future of smaller, local schools in Ireland. As the Government count their pennies some small primary schools could face closure due to lack of numbers. Hopefully this will not affect any of our schools and we need to do what we can to support our local schools. Remember our children are our future.
Local Catholic Priest
The old reliable that many people turn to in times of need, the local priest also faces an uncertain future. The Killeagh/Inch community has already seen significant changes in the recent past. The number of Catholic priests in Ireland dropped 13% in the decade between 2002 and 2012. This is a drop of 403 priests in the decade. In graphic terms in 10 to 15 years time Irish priests could have virtually disappeared. Parish amalgamations are inevitable. In the Dublin diocese there are now just 2 priests under 40 years of age. So what is the future of local priests? By 2020, an increased role for lay people is inevitable. We already see lay people being very involved when it comes to the sacraments but significantly more involvement will be required if the church is to remain vibrant.
For any economy to function well it must have a good infrastructure to support it. This includes our roads, water supply, telecommunications and so forth. I’m sure we all know roads that could do with a little improvement. I certainly do. Another problem we face is flood damage and water logged roads. These are real problems which need to be addressed.
Should we be doing more to lobby our local politicians to address these problems?
The NRA National Roads Authority was examining the possibility of a new road from Midleton to Youghal possibly bypassing Killeagh. However, due to the economic downturn and the scaling back of the road building programme this has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
An Garda Siochana
Obviously as a member of An Garda Siochana for 16 years the closure of Garda Station is a matter which is close to my heart. The closure of Garda Stations are seriously impacting on rural communities. When coupled with the reduced number of Garda Cars and Garda Personnel available, we have a situation where most people, particularly those living alone or in isolated rural areas are feeling extremely insecure.
The recent loss of 100 Garda stations around Ireland means that information gained from communities is in danger of being lost. A local Garda station is a place where the community can visit the Garda to get assistance with state administration, get forms and passports signed, seek advice or report an incident to Gardai. However, as you and I know an open Garda Station is much more. On many occasions locals will come into the Garda station and keep the Gardai informed of any suspicious activity they may be aware of. Obviously, this doesn’t happen if there is no station. Equally, if there is a problem in the community this is often people’s first port of call. If the door is closed people have nowhere to go.
Will there still be a Garda Station in Killeagh in 2020? I hope that there will, but I don’t know what the future holds. As we move toward 2020 it will become more and more everybody’s business to assist with Crime Prevention. The protection of communities and the prevention of crime are central to the day-to-day functions of An Garda Siochana. However, the Gardai cannot fight crime alone without the support and cooperation of the community to assist in attempting to prevent and reduce crime. Everybody needs to actively contribute to make The Killeagh/Inch community a more secure and pleasant environment to live and work in. These are challenging times for An Garda Siochana and the importance of having support and trust in communities between An Garda Siochana and local residents cannot be overstated.
As we are all aware modern Technology is changing our lives hugely. It is predicted that by 2020 for every person on Earth there will be more than six devices connected to the internet, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, and televisions. The speed of internet connections will increase dramatically. By 2020 robots will be physically superior to humans and by 2025 the robot population will surpass the number of humans in the developed world. Medical technologies will develop at such a pace that replacing organs from our own tissues will be the norm.
Climate Change and Energy Use
A major change in energy use will be a feature of the next decade, as the Government chases its ambitious targets for green energy, windfarms and electric cars. The Irish Government alone has set a goal of achieving 10% electric car usage or 230,000 cars by 2020.
The present world’s population is estimated to be approximately 7 billion people. It is estimated that this will reach up to 9 billion by 2050.
The economic recovery and our growing population will make it difficult for the Irish Government to meet 2020 EU climate change targets. Ireland received a target of reducing transport, household, industry and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. Initiatives like the green flags in our local schools are good examples of where we as a community can contribute towards meeting these targets.
On a global scale, we currently consume around 30 billion barrels of oil yearly.
Yet in 2050, with a population of perhaps 9 billion people some experts predict that we shall have only 2 billion barrels of oil to distribute amongst us all. We need to think to the future. We are massively exposed to a serious supply risk.
We need to look at a mix of old energy sources to run alongside renewable energy. However, if the Government pushes its green policies, such as incentivising the purchase of lower emissions vehicles, developing biofuels, and imposing carbon taxes this would have significant economic costs.
Meeting the future global demand for energy and reducing emissions is a challenge and will affect the lives of everyone.
The Farming Community
The farming industry is an essential part of life to many in Killeagh and the Farming Community are also facing challenges as we move towards 2020
Ireland is still a largely rural nation compared to the rest of the EU, and rural Ireland fulfils a variety of functions not just for the people who live there, but society as a whole. Rural Ireland also has a huge environmental value and is a place of recreation where we enjoy the many amenities it has to offer.
The farming industry is extremely important to Ireland. The value of Irish food and drink exports approached €10 billion for the first time in 2013, according to recent figures published by Bord Bia. These are record figures.
As I mentioned earlier the world’s population is expected to grow significantly by 2020 and over the next number of years. Most of this population growth will take place in the fastest growing economies of Asia. The agri-food sector is expected to grow tremendously over the next few years to meet the demand of the world’s growing population. This should be good news for the Irish food industry. However, as we all know these benefits should be spread. At the moment we see the challenges being faced by our beef farmers. A solution needs to be found to make their livelihoods more viable.
A key development that will impact on the dairy sector will be the abolition of dairy quotas in 2015. This means that EU dairy farmers will be able to expand production without purchasing milk quota rights for the first time in 30 years bringing both opportunities and challenges for Irish farmer. The Irish Government have set ambitious projection targets of an increase of up to 50% in the volume of milk being produced by 2020. While many farmers welcome the opportunity to expand the sector to meet the increased demand for dairy products globally, others fear for the survival of dairy farming, especially in remote and disadvantaged regions.
These are just some of the challenges that may affect us as we move towards 2020. While some of these challenges are beyond our control we can work together and develop a plan for the Killeagh/Inch community for 2020 aimed towards the needs within the community. It is very important to make sure that all members of the community are given an opportunity in deciding what direction this plan would take. This would ensure that the real needs of the community are met and that the people of Killeagh play an active part in the shaping of future developments.
The Killeagh / Inch community council could invite local people to propose ideas and initiatives that would benefit the development of the community, as they do tonight. This could be done in conjunction with local businesses, clubs and organisations. In my view, a more regular meeting, such as we are having tonight, is vital in order to progress ideas in a concrete way. It is not enough to meet annually. If the community really wants to work together a Forum needs to be there, where people can meet at least a few times a year. Such a Forum could prove very positive and encourage many ideas. Some ideas that have been raised, which many of you will be familiar with – include:
- Putting more CCTV in the area
- Developing the stone building and land behind Killeagh Church into a much needed parking area
- Developing the disused railway line from Midleton to Youghal into a walkway or cycle path which would be good for locals and attract much needed tourism.
- Lobbying to have a high speed internet connection available to all in our community. This is a necessity for us all – businesses, students and families alike
- Re-developing the Lake in Glenbower if funding can be found
In conclusion, we need to maintain what we have. We have many existing organisations and community groups in The Killeagh/Inch community. We need to continue the spirit of volunteerism to ensure that these groups stay vibrant.
People are the heart of every community and groups and organisations such as the Killeagh/Inch Community Council and the other groups I have mentioned are very important in the development of our future.
By working together as a community and taking collective action and generating positive solutions to common problems, we can aim to build a stronger and more resilient community and build on what we have, which is significant.
Of course, we will meet many challenges and difficulties as we move towards Killeagh/Inch 2020, but let us continue to strive for a vibrant community meeting the needs of everybody.