Rethinking Rural

Inspiration for Buyers
Inspiration for Buyers

Escape to the Irish Country: rethinking rural

In the first part of a new series of features, we look at the Great Move to the Irish Countryside. As more and more people are voting with their feet, rural Ireland is wide awake. As well as gorgeous and gloriously spacious, and it is well and truly open for business. So what can you expect? How can you and your family live the Irish dream, and are there any pitfalls to look out for?

In this series, we’ll be looking at rural hotspots, discover festivals, arts and cultural centres, foodie destinations and more. We’ll highlight some dream homes, and explore some places you may not have thought of. On a practical level, we’ll feature advice from our panel of experts on making the move, including preparing to sell your own home, and we’ll take a look at what the new Rural Plan means for this beautiful island of ours.

Reimagining the Countryside

The picture postcard version of rural Ireland is rich with thatched cottages, liberally sprinkled with donkeys and dotted with charming pubs featuring real turf fires. And while you will still find all these and more, rural Ireland now also includes high speed broadband, digital hubs, Michelin starred restaurants, cosmopolitan communities, multibillion euro industries and schools that are second to none.

Some of these changes have come from Government policy (and yes, some are still in the making), but many more have been as a result of the extraordinarily vibrant and vital communities who, having found their dream place to live have set about working together to make the improvements and transformations that have led to the renaissance of the countryside.

Alongside these moves, the way Ireland does its business has caught on fast. Deliveries to remote addresses? No problem. Getting lost up country lanes? A thing of the past – the Eircode system seriously has solved everything. Stuttering broadband? Ok, so that’s a work in progress, but it is getting there. Take the Ludgate Hub – did you know Skibbereen had one of Ireland’s first Fibre Optic networks?

Space to Play (and Work)

The Covid 19 pandemic accelerated a trend that had already been gathering strength. Quite simply, rural living means more space at less cost than you’ll find in urban centres. While those whose employers already understood flexible working arrangements were ahead of the curve, now many more are realising that they can live somewhere beautiful and still ditch the commute. With the Government working on legislation to provide a right to work from home, this change is here to stay.

As many a city dweller will have discovered, the working from home phenomenon has led to a fight for space. Spare rooms (if you have such a thing) are repurposed, bedrooms become uncomfortably multi-functional, and there’s a premium on space at the kitchen table. The right rural move can not only give you more space for your money, it can also offer larger gardens, often with their own outbuildings, or with a site for a separate home office.

That’s the work side taken care of, so what about the play? Many families fear isolation for the kids in the countryside. The opposite is true. A network of sports, community and school organisations, coupled with wider safeties and broader freedoms mean you’re actually offering your children a dream childhood. From pony riding to GAA, traffic-free walks and plenty of picnics to the friendliness of neighbours and school colleagues with kids in the same age groups, you’ve got it covered.

And on the subject of schools – a huge rural advantage is the ease of getting your kids into a good school. No need to put their names down before you’ve even thought of a name for them!

Arts and Culture

An often under-sung aspect of rural Ireland is its rich vein of arts and culture. An Arts Council initiative from the late 1990s led to the establishment of arts centres across the countryside, festivals have flourished, while crafts people, painters, poets and more have long colonised the more beautiful (and more inexpensive) countryside spots.

Some of these are now famous – West Cork and Kilkenny County for craft, West Cork (again) and Leitrim for artists, and Counties Clare and Kerry for music. And that’s just to scratch the surface. As we explore locations more deeply, we’ll be letting you know what’s to be found and where.

Moving Back

Rural Ireland is, of course, a patchwork of villages, larger towns and further flung homes. What keeps the market vibrant with choices for all is the movement of people as life stages change. So for every family looking to gain more space, there’s another owner planning to downsize, move closer to other family, into the centre of the village or town, or simply find a change of pace and scene.

Of course no one wants to sell without knowing what they may be able to buy in turn. Our own network of experts, who know their areas like their own back gardens, is on hand to advise on what’s available, what can be imagined, what you may not even have thought of.

Contact your local Sherry FitzGerald agent to help you make the move. Click here to find your local agent.

Take Five: Five rural gems for sale right now

4 Red Row, Ballinatray Lower, Courtown, Co. Wexford

Fuschia Cottage, Gerahies, Bantry, Co.Cork

Lackyle, Ardnacrusha, Co.Clare

7 Yew Abbey, Tenure, Monasterboice, Co. Louth

Pier Cottage, Harbour Road, Bunbeg, Co.Donegal