Miriam O’Callaghan reports on Rural Isolation in a special entitled “No Country for Old Men,” which will be broadcast at 9.35pm on RTE One.
Over the past few weeks, leading up to Christmas, Prime Time’s Miriam O’Callaghan travelled north and south speaking to some of the country’s bachelor farmers and older men living alone and in rural isolation.
The team see behind the doors of Kerry and Donegal, meeting Mossie Foley, Barney Byrne and “Packie Jim of the Mountain.”
Some of the men are part of a particularly Irish phenomenon, a generation that experienced the lowest marriage rates in history.
In the 1950’s about a third of men never married. According to the CSO, the propensity to remain single “was most pronounced for rural males aged 35-44. Just over half this group was single in 1946, compared to 1 in 5 some fifty years later”.
Often these men stayed on the family farm, taking care of the land and elderly parents.
Miriam O’Callaghan met Seventy Seven year old Mossie Foley from South Kerry who reminisces about a time when his area was more filled with neighbours and school children, to “Packie Jim of the Mountain,” who still lives in the house he was born in 80 years ago – remarkably, he still has no running water or electricity.
Miriam also met Barney Byrne, a widower, who explains how he spends his days in the country, living alone after his wife and adult son passed away. The challenges posed by a lack 0of rural transportation, needing home help and loneliness are never far away.
“It really was a privilege for me that these men let us into their homes and into their lives,” said Miriam.
“Theirs is a testimony to a changing society – one that involves exodus from country and the challenges of sustaining a happy and healthy life while struggling with the issues of rural transportation, home help and fear of living alone.”Tags: