A KERRY musician led an outdoor performance on Magheraclogher Beach in Bunbeg on Monday night to draw attention to the depopulation of Gaeltacht areas and the planning laws causing it.
Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich from the Dingle Peninsula has personal experience of planning difficulties having battled for 15 years to build a modest house on his own land. Last October he finally succeeded in overturning the county council’s refusal at An Bord Pleanála.
To highlight his campaign Brendan and local singers and musicians performed in front of an installation of fifty crosses at the beach symbolising those individuals and families now missing from the community they were born into.
Among those who performed were Cathal Ó Curráin, Máire Ní Choilm, Síle Friel, and Hugh Hiudaí Beag Ó Gallchóir.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week Seanan MacAoidh, Manager of An tSean Bheairic in Falcarragh explained that Breanndán was travelling around the country with an RTE camera crew making a documentary.
“One of his team got in touch with myself and we came down to the beach to speak to them in front of the camera. I spoke in my capacity as a member of Misneach which highlights housing issues facing Gaeltacht and rural communities.
“These events are bringing attention to the housing crisis in the Gaeltacht and subsequent effects on the Irish language, culture and heritage. Getting housing to rent or trying to build is a problem throughout these areas. The way the housing market is and Airbnb means local people are priced out of it because of the tourist market. There needs to be regulation as there was with Airbnb in Dublin. Everything in moderation and a certain amount of houses free for long term rentals. Possibly give powers to Údarás na Gaeltachta to build local houses. Donegal County Council have regulations on who can build houses here but they don’t use them,” Seanan said.
Despite short notice about Monday’s event by text around 60 people attended what was described as “a joyful expression of love for the Irish culture and language within the Gaeltacht which needs to be protected”.
Seanan pointed out that the population in the Donegal Gaeltacht was much higher in the past.
“This Gaeltacht has the least amount of young people living in it. I am 31 and very lucky to be working full-time here. Young people can only stay in the area for a short time. They want to be independent and build or buy a home. It is the same throughout rural Ireland. Breanndán is doing great work to highlight what is actually happening,” he added.
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