12th Dec 2019
Lack of transport infrastructure in rural Ireland means the local pub is suffering, but a new initiative featuring Chris O’Dowd is hoping to change this
There is much spoken about rural Ireland and its impending decline.
Due to this narrative, we sometimes forget about the truly good bits; the sense of community, the characters and the tradition. We also tend to gloss over the immense steps being taken by locals to protect and shield its heart and individualism.
One area of contention has been the country pub. To towns and villages across the country, the local pub is often the meeting point of each stream of the locality. Everything from club meetings, to Lotto draws, to christenings and parties take place in this one place. It’s where the news of the day is spread and where social interaction is a lifeline because isolation and loneliness are real issues in rural areas.
Due to lack of transport infrastructure in these communities, there are very little options available to those who wish to meet with family and friends and get that communication they crave and need.
One initiative which is trying to change the situation is ‘Social Spin’ which is in partnership with Guinness. Together with the Vinters’ Federation of Ireland and a group of Kerry publicans, ‘Social Spin’ will provide a safe and sociable option to get to and from the pub. Having noticed a decline in revellers coming through their doors, publicans in Causeway, North Kerry and Faha, South Kerry came together to address isolation in the communities by creating a unique transport solution.
Speaking about ‘Social Spin’, Sean O’Mahony, owner and publican at Faha Court Pub said, “Socialising is the fabric that knits our community in Faha together, and fewer people meeting up in a social setting began to impact the atmosphere in the area.
“We knew something had to be done, so we bought a community car, set up a dedicated mobile number and asked people to volunteer to drive their friends and neighbours to and from the pub.”
From 5pm to closing time each day, over 70 volunteer drivers between Causeway and Faha have signed up to get behind the wheel and transport customers to the pub and then to home. Anyone over 25 years of age and with a full licence can sign up and volunteer to drive for ‘Social Spin’.
Customers can call or text a dedicated number when they wish to go to the local pub. There is no charge for the service but if users wish, they can give a maximum voluntary contribution of €5 on any given evening.
To launch the initiative, Guinness recruited actor and Roscommon native Chris O’Dowd to get behind the wheel and drive some of the locals of Faha to show his support. Speaking of his decision to get involved he said: “Having grown up in Boyle, a rural area in Roscommon, I understand the significance of the local pub in bringing people together in a community – it’s a social hub, somewhere to catch up and share stories.
“Socialising is part of our DNA and I think Social Spin is a brilliant and simple way of nurturing and celebrating this sociability, which is such an important part of our culture”.
All seven publicans who have got involved and introduced ‘Social Spin’ said they have seen a positive impact with a notable increase in sociability, a more connected community spirit and a renewed sense of vibrancy in the area.
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