Urban v Rural


I think partly because people who do this are quite middle class; there’s not much of a middle class in villages.

When I look at my own medium sized town there are only a couple of streets in the town proper where it’s relatively middle class; most professional people are in a few small estates or out of town a bit. In town, it’s apartments [newish - Urban Regeneration or whatever it was called], old/small houses right on the street and some flats above shops


Agree with that. Our small towns are not always the nicest places to live. Life has always centred around the pub but now there are other social problems too, especially with the drug culture having spread to pretty much everywhere.

In Belgium, which I have a little experience of, a lot of the houses in what passes for countryside are one-offs. That’s in the sense of being individually designed, but the serviced plots of land have been carefully parcelled up by the local gemeente so that you end up with a kind of extended village. I think the result is quite handsome, compared to Ireland there doesn’t seem to be any happy medium between randomly spaced garish McMansions and horrible densely packed rows of identikit shitboxes.

A more recent aspect of Ireland’s sloppy approach is that far more people can afford the McMansions than previously. According to one bloke on the radio recently, we’ve built half a million of them since the 90s, on an area he estimated could be twice the size of Dublin. We’ve always been crap at it, but now the problems of sustainability is looming large.



It would be great if local authorities had the job of CPO-ing farmland and dividing it up into small, serviced parcels where you can build to your own spec. You get your detached house, but with neighbours, which makes the provision of services much cheaper.

This is how it seems to work in well-run northern Europe. Irish one-offs is something you see in the south of Italy or Greece.

If you want to build to your own preferences in Ireland you have to do it in the middle of nowhere and pay hefty for connection to services and you most likely won’t have a footpath and will be some distance from everything.

The alternative - if you want new build - is to buy off plan in an estate which is not to everyone’s taste.

Option 3 of course is to buy an existing detached house in an urban area and knock and rebuild. But this is time-consuming and diabolically expensive.


I think it’s as a result of two things.

  1. Water: in Ireland you can sink a well and hit water in most places. Internationally that’s either not possible or banned. If you can’t get water you can’t build a house so people are restricted to villages where mains water is a possibility.

  2. Electricity: to ensure remote areas got connected to the grid the Irish government had some form of rule that anyone who wanted a connection had to be connected. Again it made (makes?) one off housing possible where it’s not in other places.


it must be a hangover from our overwhelmingly farmer past , a massive percentage of people are only a generation or two off the farm and so having a bungalow on an acre of land ( three miles from the local small village ) sort of returns you to the farm , traditionally in ireland people who lived in cities and urban areas were viewed as poor so living in one off housing might be some sort of wealth status , i own a hobby farm and so live in rural ireland but were i not making some nice handy money from farm subsidies ( got the farm from an uncle ) , i would not dream of living here , i find it bizzare why a teacher or employee of a multinational wants to live a mile from the next house and three from the school and village shop , the houses cost far more to build than you could sell them for too and most of them are ugly as sin

its very unique to this county , visit wales or scotland which are sparsely populated as well , only farmers live miles out from the village


I think that it is a combination of the above, plus the fact that many people like to live close to where they were born in the countryside where having access to a site and obtaining a job locally makes this possible, and also just poor taste in house design! However I think that there are some better one-off houses being built as taste and building standards improves. Don’t forget that cheapness of build was a good deal more important in past decades such as the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s than design standards hence the “bungalow bliss” stuff.


It’s very interesting to get a first-hand admission from a farmer that it is actually just a hobby which accidentally pays money. I wish you well btw, if I could make money out of my hobbies I would so too!

I suspect at least a half of Ireland’s 100k farmers are in your situation by the way. It is quite a spectacular diversion of public resources that no one ever talks about.


I honestly think that your average suburban 3 bed semi in legoland, Co Dublin is far more distasteful than your average one off in rural Ireland. So rural wins that one for me.
The surrounding countryside is far nicer than the suburbs with less traffic, less pollution and far quieter. Rural wins that one for me too.
City cannot be beaten for jobs. Urban wins that one hands down.

Those who have the ability to get a decent job in rural ireland would have a better quality of life.
There are few truly remote places in Ireland. Most rural places, excepting places like Connemara, are not far from a shop


a lot of rural houses are built large and cheaply, mostly from off the shelf drawings thats why they look so bloody awful, no money spent on drives, entrances or landscaping either.

Give me a nice dublin suburb close to the sea but also all the amenities any day (i grew up in the country and moved to Dublin for college)


Well, as a former employee of a multinational who also lived in the shticks (a mile and a half from the nearest shop) I can tell you it was a nice mix. I got the peace and quiet to get on with work which was impossible in the office, and I got to indulge some hobbies – lovely dark sky for astronomy, and nobody but cows to be disturbed by late night hammering on the piano. It was still commutable for office visits, but a fraction of the price of a house in de Big Shmoke – which meant I never had a mortgage so saved the same again in interest payments and retired twenty years earlier than my more conventionally ambitious colleagues will be able to. However, I had the almost free use of a pied-à-terre in de Big Shmoke, without which the arrangement would have been nigh on impossible, plus broadband inadequacy was a constant nagging issue.


How is hobby farming a diversion of public resources? Most farmers wouldn’t be “hobby-farming” and relying on other sources of family income if there was any money in farming average size farms of 50-100 acres. And these “hobby-farmers” are still producing food for domestic consumption and export, and keeping the countryside looking the way it does now, even if they are not making much money doing so.

In fact what is happening is that food is much cheaper as a percentage of the average industrial wage than it was even 40 years ago and only very large farming operations can scrape a reasonable wage out of it.

So we either have to move to industrial scale farms if you want all Irish farms to support families (not a desirable brand of farming) or you allow food prices to rise to allow 60 or 70 acre beef farms to make a living, as they were able to do up to the 1970’s.


I dunno. It’s an expensive hobby for a lot of people. Where my sister lives the land is poor, but farms still tiny and they outbid each other for any field that comes up. Where we are from its much better and though people pay over the odds there’s more commercial rational. At least there was when milk prices were high

A friend of my brother’s moved home to Kerry or Cork and does a 9-5 in a multinational. But he’s expanded the farm in the elusive search for scale and by his own admission he’s subsidising the farm from the day job.



I think its a good outcome for the countryside. A lot of the marginal land is not being intensively farmed but is maintained and is producing food. Rather that than an outcome where industrial scale farming is adopted or land abandoned to weeds and scrub. Hobby farming in Ireland is just another by-product of globalisation, where prices and production move to the areas where products can be produced the cheapest.


Having enough land to grow some food, hobby or otherwise is by default more sustainable. Famine sounds so unimaginable in Europe these days but its not impossible. Sure things like blight is preventable now but weather related famines occured in the past thousand years with enough frequency. Population is not comparable now


as someone who moved from an urban setting to a rural setting I find it amusing to see be people mentioning about ‘bettering one’s lot’ by moving to urban areas.

I ‘bettered my lot’ by moving to the countryside and can say with no hesitation that my quality of life is streets ahead of when I was in Dublin.


The pigeons are certainly much better looking.


so you find that amusing but dont see the irony in your post


where is the irony?

its an individual thing.


“streets ahead” ?


I could easily have requested a site from my parents, and indeed my in-laws were encouraging me to do the same. No bloody way. We were fortunate enough to buy a spacious house, a fifteen minute walk from the city centre of Limerick. The freedom to walk to a café, bar, restaurant, or shop in less than fifteen minutes isn’t something I can put a price on. Five minute drive to work, with schools, playgrounds, and other amenities all nearby.

Where I grew up, everything required a car journey. There was a dreary conservatism, everyone ‘knew their place’, standing out was discouraged. Moving to the city it’s much easier to be yourself, and meet like-minded people.