Book Chapter


Enda Murphy
James E. Killen



rural transportation ireland rural landscape rural planning communication in rural development ireland transportation land use rural ireland regional planning ireland infrastructure economics ireland commuincations infrastructure

Communications (2011)

Abstract Communications are an outstanding feature of Ireland's rural landscape. Some roads date from early times, but a network of roads and lanes, much denser than in most of Europe, developed strongly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to link the diffuse pattern of small single farms, provide access to peat bogs and hill grazing, and serve a population substantially larger than the present. The expansion of roads had profound consequences in pre-industrial Ireland, ending isolation, altering rural settlement patterns and facilitating the erosion of native culture and the process of emigration. During the same period, and encouraged by central Ireland's low relief, canals were constructed, running in a predominantly east-west direction and serving the ports on the eastern seaboard with produce from an expanding rural hinterland. Unable to compete with the later railways, the canals fell into disuse in the early twentieth century, but have experienced a revival in recent years with the development of waterways for leisure pursuits. Although relatively underdeveloped, Ireland generated an impressive rail network in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Like the canals, railways were optimistically perceived as instruments of economic development and were extended into remote rural areas to encourage commercial farm production, trade and tourism; in reality, railways facilitated the importation of foreign goods and emigration. With the arrival of motorised road transport after World War II and upgrading of the roads, the railways appeared uncompetitive and a strategy of closure was implemented. Much reduced, the railway system has left a considerable legacy in the Irish rural landscape, including abandoned stations, bridges and embankments. Thinning of the communications network in the twentieth century, in particular railways and rural roads, was paralleled by the development of air travel and telecommunications and increasing investment in major roadways and by-passes. In the early years of the twenty-first century, rapid economic growth has meant that the development of major roadways and by-passes has assumed even greater importance. The role of the railway as a passenger oriented service has increased also. New technologies associated with mobile telecommunications and new forms of energy generation have become conspicuous in the rural landscape. While these latter impacts are likely to increase in future years, the full extent of the impact of the technological revolution on the rural landscape remains to be seen.
Collections Ireland -> University College Dublin -> Geography Research Collection
Ireland -> University College Dublin -> College of Social Sciences and Law
Ireland -> University College Dublin -> School of Geography

Full list of authors on original publication

Enda Murphy, James E. Killen

Experts in our system

Enda Murphy
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 18