DEMAND for a digital hub in Beara has been identified following an influx of new families to the area.
This was the finding of a Young Social Innovator (YSI) Project on rural regeneration, which was carried out by 22 transition year students at Scoil Phobail Bheara.
YSI guide, teacher and chaplain, Marie Murphy, said the survey – which was conducted through the student and staff population, as well as the wider Beara community from Glengarriff to the Kerry border – established that 89% of those interviewed work in a home-based office while 61% would like a designated workspace outside the home that would be conveniently located on the Beara peninsula.
Although 71% are happy with the provision of broadband locally, 20% would like improved access or provision of a higher speed network.
Marie confirmed that many families have relocated back to their native Beara since the start of the pandemic, but there is also evidence of people with a second home opting to make it their primary residence.
‘We have also seen a boost to the numbers attending local primary schools,’ said Marie. ‘One couple said the ability to work remotely is a huge factor in allowing them to return home and be close to family, particularly elderly relatives.
Of the 500-plus who responded to the questionnaire issued, 27% were completed by people over 65 years with 59% under the age of 35.
Marie also confirmed that 99% of those who completed the survey live in Beara, or are connected to the locality, with the remaining 1% expressing the wish to live in Beara.
Another interesting statistic is that 93% made a conscious decision to make Beara their home and of that number 15% chose it for the purposes of cocooning.
An analysis of the figures shows that 61% are renting either long or short terms in Airbnbs, or self-catering properties, with 45% work-ing or studying remotely.
A whopping 73% indicated that they would like to own a property on the peninsula. But the most startling figure of all was that 100% of the respondents said they would like to remain in the area and not return to office-based employment. The downside to the influx is that 72% of those interviewed found it difficult to find suitable accommodation, and have had to deal with rising rent costs. However, 90% said they have already identified a potential purchase, or renovation project, in Beara with the biggest attraction being ‘a better work life balance.’