The proliferation of rural digital working spaces means affordable living and less commuting for more and more professionals.
Lorna Moloney was always passionate about her local heritage.
Indeed, this world-renowned genealogist started her career working as a tour guide in her home county of Clare.
Now, as an entrepreneur who works part-time as the Springboard Coordinator with University College Cork, Lorna does most of her work from the Digiclare Feakle Hub.
Having lived in Dublin, Cork, Galway and parts of England, Lorna says rural Ireland is her preferred base. “My ancestral roots are from Connemara, but I grew up in Tulla, Co Clare and now I’m living in east Clare. I like the quality of life in rural Ireland. Places such as the Feakle Digital Hub make it easier to choose rural Ireland.”
The Digiclare Feakle Hub provides local office facilities, co-working and conference facilities as well as high-speed broadband connectivity. The hub is an initiative of Clare County Council as part of its Rural Development Strategy to support rural communities.
Already, the centre is essential for entrepreneurs such as Lorna to maintain and build her own business – Merriman Research and Training Ltd, which has clients all around the world.
The availability of high speed broadband in Co Clare has been increasing steadily, due to commercial investment and the Government’s National Broadband Plan, with availability now at 61%, a 10% increase since 2016.
The connection allows Lorna to work remotely including producing a radio segment – the Genealogy Show – once a week on Raidio Corca Baiscinn (RCB).
Because of the reliability of the technology, she uses the Digiclare Feakle Hub to interview international guests and record her shows.
“The Feakle Hub is an excellent base for anyone that wants to work remotely,” says Lorna. “I save about 12-14 hours a week in travel time alone and my health has improved as a result. I used to have high blood pressure from all the driving. It’s very stressful to be stuck in traffic and nobody has the hours to lose.”
Since the co-working space opened in March 2018, Lorna can complete her varied work and research without being forced to battle daily traffic to reach one of the bigger cities. “Before the local centre opened I had to travel 90 minutes a day to the Southhill Area Centre in Limerick in order to get my work done.”
The Skellig CRI Centre in County Kerry is an outreach of UCC. “It was set up as a chance to branch out in terms of education and to offer learning opportunities to people in other parts of the country. “It’s about not having the arrogance of expecting everyone to travel to UCC, we bring the courses to them instead,” explains Lorna.
As a historian and genealogist, Lorna would like to see more people returning to their roots in rural Ireland as she believes smaller towns have a lot to offer. “I have a comfortable life in Clare, it’s manageable and affordable. I have one day a week with fixed hours of traveling, but one day is manageable.
“I’m mindful of the fact that some of my colleagues have to get up at 5.30am to work in Dublin and the cost of living there is shockingly high. I think more places like the Digiclare Feakle Hub should be opened to alleviate this problem and make living rurally an option for more people.”