Plans to introduce mini digital hubs across towns and villages in Donegal may well breathe new life into otherwise forgotten areas. Donegal Daily spoke to one young Donegal professional who recently made the jump from the centre of Dublin – to the centre of Carrigart!
Seamus McHugh and wife Niamh Walsh knew the time was fast-approaching when they would have to make perhaps the most important decision they had faced as a married couple.
Both hailing from Co Donegal, they had two small children who would soon be going to crèche and putting down their own childhood roots in Dublin.
Should they stay in the capital or try and escape back to the North-West and to their families and friends and a more laid-back pace of life?
Both had good jobs but the age old questions of work/life balance and quality of life hankered.
Last October both Seamus, 38 and Niamh, 35, decided to approach their respective companies to examine the possibility of working remotely from Donegal.
And to their delight, both companies agreed.
Since then Seamus, who works for retail software company, CBE, and Niamh, who works with Cushman Wakefield, a branch of estate agency Sherry Fitzgerald, have begun to call Donegal home again.
They set up home in Niamh’s childhood village of Carrigart, close enough to where Declan grew up in the village of Cranford.
The early morning commutes and searching for car parking spaces in the capital is almost a distant memory.
“I suppose we lucky in that we can both work remotely and our companies were fine with us doing that.
“We had just got to the stage of buying a home and trying to start getting the kids into schools in Dublin when we took a step back and tried to see if this is what we really wanted.
“Thankfully it has worked out, the kids will go to the local primary school and the commute will be no longer a problem in the mornings,” said Seamus.
Access to fibre broadband has been a must for Seamus and Niamh and they can get speeds of between 40 and 50 megabites in Carrigart.
Although both are working from home, they are part of a group who are in the process of setting up a digital hub and have already identified a possible premises.
Although moving back to his native Donegal with Niamh and children Thomas, 1 and Laoise, 3, Seamus says the idea of working from home does not appeal to him long term.
“Even working in rural Ireland, I think people like to separate work life from home life and that is why we are trying to set up this digital hub.
“We have met with Udaras na Gaeltachta and we are hopeful this can become a reality soon. We have spoken to at least four other people in Dublin who would move back if this digital hub was there,” he added.
He added that the economic benefits to setting up similar mini digital hubs in town and villages across Ireland could be hugely beneficial and could lead to real regeneration of rural Ireland.
“If Google announces four or five hundred jobs for Dublin then that is great news. But if you break it down, then four or five jobs coming back to a village like Carrigart is just as good.
“Many of those looking to relocate back to rural Ireland to work remotely have decent salaries and those salaries will be spent directly in local shops and putting down roots in the locality.
“There’s no reason why many such digital hubs should not be springing up all around Ireland and that could be a real catalyst for at least some regeneration of rural Ireland,” he said.