Barna the best in Ireland for riding out recession storm

BARNA is the top village in Ireland for high employment levels and for people migrating to the area, a national survey of over 300 Irish towns has revealed.

The study – carried out by the farm advisory body, Teagasc – showed that a number of towns and villages close to Galway city were ‘riding out the storm’ best, in the wake of the Celtic Tiger collapse.

In terms of both low unemployment leves and inward migration, Barna came out tops in the country while other centres close to the city like Clarinbridge, Carnmore, Craughwell and Moycullen have also done well in the economic recovery stakes.

All five centres feature in the ‘top 50’ of Irish villages and towns that are performing solidly over recent years but the picture is far more negative for locations ‘away from the city’ such as Tuam (193rd in the country), Ballinasloe (249th), Carraroe (257th) and Gort (296th out of 302).

According to the Teagasc Head of Rural Economy and Development, Prof Cath O’Donoghue, there was a huge variation between the strongest and weakest towns across the country.

He said that the differences were most pronounced in areas such as employment rates, third level education opportunities, unoccupied houses and inward migration.

“It cannot be boiled down to an east-west divide. Some towns in the east of the country have been disproportionately affected by the downturn while there are several towns in the west among the strongest in the country.

Senior Teagasc Research Officer, Dr David Meredith, said that overall the South-West and West had the highest concentration of the strongest towns.

“Commuter towns such as Clarinbridge, located close to the cities, performed relatively strongly in the face of the economic downturn,” said Dr Meredith.

The Teagasc research was based on the CSO Census of Population through a comparison of changes in the size of the population between 2006 and 2011 and an evaluation of the unemployment rate in each town and their hinterland in 2011.