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Economic Change in South-West Ireland, 1960–2009

  • DAVID R. STEAD (a1)

Abstract

This article reflects on the striking economic changes recently experienced in a part of peripheral south-west rural Ireland. In 1960, west Cork's economy was largely dependent on low-productivity agriculture and was undergoing long term decline. Unexpectedly the region began to be revitalised from the turn of the 1990s, reflected in a rapid reversal of chronic depopulation and growth of employment in the service sector. Important to this process was the area's ability to capitalise on several familiar national and global socioeconomic changes, including the ‘Celtic tiger’ macroeconomic boom and the rise of counter-urbanisation and rural-urban commuting. A pioneering regional brand network has been one notable local initiative. However west Cork's historic east/west division in affluence persists, and the adverse impacts of the national economic downturn during 2007–9 highlight that the fortunes of the area are somewhat fragile and still linked to those of the macroeconomy.

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Rural History
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