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Achill and Kilmeena feature in BBC Radio programme

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Achill and Kilmeena to feature on BBC Radio


Edwin McGreal

A new programme on the effects of emigration on rural football clubs will focus extensively on Achill GAA.
BBC Radio 4 will broadcast the programme, entitled Crossing Continents, this Thursday at 11am and it will be repeated on Monday next at 8.30pm.
The programme features interviews with players and officials from Achill and Kilmeena GAA clubs, players from Achill Rovers soccer club, and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
BBC Radio 4’s John Murphy came to Mayo this summer to hear about how clubs like Achill and Kilmeena are struggling to keep going with so many young people leaving the country to find jobs.
“We hope that we have produced a fun but also insightful programme which looks at the issue of rural depopulation in the west of Ireland, through the prism of Gaelic football,” John Murphy told The Mayo News.
Among the people BBC spoke to for the programme were Achill footballers Ronan Kilbane, Stephen Grealis, Fionnbharr Gallagher and Michael D McNamara. Seán Molloy spoke in his capacity as Chairman of Achill Rovers, as did Willie Keaveney, Chairman of Kilmeena GAA Club. Also interviewed was Denis Randle, the Principal of the Valley NS in Achill, which has now become a one teacher school due to low numbers, and retired teacher and local historian Thomas Johnson.
John Murphy said it was very apparent to him how difficult it was for Achill people not to be able to live at home.
“As the Achill GAA boys left to return to their jobs across Ireland, there was a definite sense of sadness and of emptiness – but I guess that’s a good reflection of the story we were telling.
“Though I didn’t comment on it in the programme, what’s also clear to me is how statistics and official figures, for example of economic growth, only tell a very partial story. Yes, there may be economic growth overall in Ireland, but we certainly didn’t get the impression that many people in rural areas were feeling it.
“And while emigration is not a new phenomenon of Irish life, or of Mayo, there was a sense that if rural communities are stripped out beyond a certain stage, then their chances of recovery are extremely limited,” Mr Murphy observed.
The programme can be heard online via the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qt55.
It will be available as a podcast after 11.30am on Thursday.