Old Main Street is a dead end, let’s look for another way ahead

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Old Main Street is a dead end, let’s look for another way ahead

There is no point harking back to a ‘golden age’ when modern life makes different demands on our space


The population of Charlestown, Co Mayo, has been growing steadily in recent decades — even as the population of the overall county is reducing. Photo: Keith Heneghan
The population of Charlestown, Co Mayo, has been growing steadily in recent decades — even as the population of the overall county is reducing. Photo: Keith Heneghan

‘Yugoslavia 1976’ is the title to my smudged pencil sketch. It shows a small boy minding big black cattle beside the halted train. I was an 18-year-old architectural student on the train to Greece for my pilgrimage to the gleaming white ruins of ancient Athens.

It reminded me of my surprise on seeing that the huge flat landscape seemed to be filled with people as far as every horizon. This was to be my only glimpse in Europe of the realities of a labour-intensive pre-agricultural society, until I began to see undeveloped agriculture again during my work with the UN during the last ten years.

Only about one-twentieth of Ireland’s employment is now engaged in agriculture and this figure is constantly falling. Over the last century, the number of people working in agriculture dropped by three-quarters – as did the number of farms.

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