Growth to the east but declines the further west you go
BY BRIAN MOORE
THE number of people living and working in West Cork has increased by almost 4,000 according to the first data from the Census 2016 and released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week.
However, when the information, which was gathered back in April and May of 2016, is further broken down into urban and rural areas a distinct divide is apparent.
For example, where towns such as Bandon, Kinsale, Clonakilty, and Skibbereen all show an increase in population of between 1.4% (Clonakilty) to 9.8% (Kinsale), it is evident that the rural areas further west towards the peninsulas and islands are suffering.
While the figures do not, at this stage, outline the different age groups or other factors associated with the decrease in the numbers of people living in rural West Cork, it is clear to see the influence employment opportunities and the proximity to Cork City have on the population centres and areas.
In Bantry, a major town situated along the Wild Atlantic Way, both in the urban centre and the rural area, the population has decreased by over 400 people, from 13,021 back in 2011 to 12,609 in 2016.
Likewise, the numbers living in the rural area around Schull has dropped by 1%, while the numbers of people living within the village boundary has increased from 987 in 2011 to 1056 in 2016, an increase of 7%. Surprisingly the population of Castletownbere, Ireland’s busiest fishing port, has dropped by just over 2%.
However, it is the islands and the peninsulas that have recorded the biggest decrease in the numbers of people living in these areas. In Durrus, the gateway to the Sheep’s Head peninsula, the population has dropped by just over 11% from 974 to 879.
On the Sheep’s Head itself, we see a decrease of 10%, while on the Mizen, the census recorded a drop of over 10% in Goleen and the surrounding areas.
On the Beara Peninsula, the village of Adrigole and its immediate rural area recorded a decrease of just over 4% in the number of people living here.
However, it is Bere Island – with a reduction of just over 22% – which has the dubious honour of topping the poll, a surprising result given the island’s proximity to the busy fishing port at Castletownbere.