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1952 - Giant Experiment in Gaeltacht Area

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  • Cathy Joynt Labath
    Bedford Gazette Bedford, Pennsylvania September 26, 1952 IRELAND PLANNING GIANT EXPERIMENT IN GALWAY AREA. Galway, Ireland (AP) - Up in this desolate corner of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2006
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      Bedford Gazette
      Bedford, Pennsylvania
      September 26, 1952

      IRELAND PLANNING GIANT EXPERIMENT IN GALWAY AREA.
      Galway, Ireland (AP) - Up in this desolate corner of northwest Ireland,
      which sent crowds of immigrants to the United States in the middle of the
      last century, they are now trying to keep people at home. The government is
      starting a $5,600,000 experiment.
      This is called the Gaeltacht area because most of the people speak the
      ancient Irish language. It has rugged mountains, deep bogs, magnificent
      scenery, beautiful women and great poverty. Included are the counties of
      West Cork, Kerry, West Claire, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Donegal.
      The land is poor and rocky, there is little work and emigration
      continues.
      Now, Ireland has an aging, declining population and can't afford
      emigration. In the last 25 years, for example, Ireland's population has
      dropped from 2,972,000 to 2,959,000 and there is no sign that the downward
      trend will ever be reversed.
      One hundred years ago the British who then ruled Ireland recognized the
      danger of a deserted desolate Gaeltacht. To arrest the flight from the area
      they started a forerunner to the works progress administration, paying small
      wages for hard work in clearing the land. Small handicraft factories were
      set up. But still there weren't enough jobs and emigration still climbed.
      The project lapsed, the British were forced out of Ireland and the
      Gaeltacht continued to lose its people.
      Now, in a gesture to save the area from utter depression, Prime Minister
      Eamon de Valera's government is making work in the Gaeltacht. Some of the
      works projects include the gathering of seaweed for the extraction of
      iodine; the collection of carrigeen moss which grows on rocks and from which
      agar is extracted, and the setting up of a little knitting and weaving
      plants and a minor toy industry.
      For industry which will establish plants in the area the government
      offers money grants and special tariff protection for its finished products.
      Plants to be built in the area soon will make shoes and woolen goods. There
      will be tanneries and a factory for the manufacture of insulating board out
      of the ubiquitous peat.
      Daily Deputy Jack Lynch is in charge of the project for the government.
      A tall young man who speaks Gaelic as fluently as he does English, Lynch
      becomes lyrical about the scope of the project which he believes will save
      the area from complete desolation.
      Most of the men in the Gaeltacht are farmers, he says, and the average
      income is $280 a year on which the average man keeps a wife and their three
      or four children. He farms a rocky patch of an average of five acres,
      raising a little wheat and potatoes. He supplements his diet by fishing and
      his income by "hoking," that is, picking potatoes.
      "These people, the most hospitable in the world, have been helped out in
      years past by remittances from relatives in America." Lynch says, "but those
      remittances are drying up now.
      "There is no starvation, but there's great hardship which the government
      is trying to ease."
      Already 12 little factories, each employing 15 to 20 people, have been
      set up, and at Spiddall there's a doll factory. Once made, the dolls are
      sent across the mountains to Crolly where in another little plant they're
      dressed. The dolls are going well in the export market, Lynch said.
      In the counties of Donegal, Mayo or Galway there are 30 knitting
      centers, employing a total of 650 men and women and there's a weaving plant
      at Donegal.

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      More about Gaeltacht
      http://www.gaelsaoire.ie/asp/gaeltachtai.asp?page=2&language=english

      Cathy Joynt Labath
      Ireland Old News
      http://www.IrelandOldNews.com/
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