“Cork licensee Con Dennehy believes publicans and hackney drivers should work together to provide discount fares for elderly customers so they don’t live in rural isolation.”
Ha! I bet he does, was my immediate reaction to this report in the Irish Examiner. Nothing self-serving in that, I’m sure.
Reading the rest of the report, however, swiftly removed the smile from my face. Much as it may often look to enjoy a certain detachment from the destructive frenzy of modern living, Ireland, it seems, is feeling the social pinch in those very areas that grace so many tourist brochures.
‘Gardaí have noticed in the past few years that the age profiles of those committing suicide in some rural areas has increased…
…Mr Dennehy said that normal places of interaction for people, especially those living on their own, were disappearing rapidly in rural Ireland.
“It’s not just pubs which are closing, but post offices, creameries, garda stations etc. Even the postman is not now calling to some houses in rural areas and is instead putting letters in boxes down lanes,” [he ] said.
However neat it may look on the spreadsheets of those who decide such things, this is the flipside of the streamline and centralisation fetish that has long dominated the management of public and private sector concerns alike, certainly on my side of the Irish Sea. It sucks life out of areas that ultimately cannot live on nice views and birdsong alone. More and more, it also begs the question – if centralisation is so right, so imperative, how come we managed without it for so long?
Our ancestors weren’t all commercial dunderheads, I’m sure. How come there was a time when villages had their post offices and hospitals and small towns their railway stations and the British Isles not only survived on such arrangements but thrived on them?
Getting to the heart of it, is centralisation something commerce does to survive, or merely something it does to make big profits bigger?
I’m neither an historian nor an economist, so I would genuinely like to know. As might those among Ireland’s elderly for whom a place to die for seems in danger of becoming precisely that.