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Ty1 Challenge to Change Project. Guest Speaker - Mr. John Leahy .

24th April 2018

On Tuesday 10th of April, Cllr. John Leahy was invited to speak to our class about rural demise and urban development. Cllr. Leahy is a local councillor who would have a great knowledge of the decline in rural areas and also the development of our local town Tullamore. John Leahy is a RENUA Councillor with Offaly County Council, representing the people of the Ferbane Electoral Area. He was elected in June 2009 after successfully contesting his first Local Election. John is married with two children and lives in Kilcormac.

As well as being a public representative, John works as the Offaly GAA Coaching & Games Promotion Officer.


John spoke to the Ty1 class for a double class. He began by asking us about the facilities in our areas most people had shops in their areas, however some people spoke of shops being closed down in their local areas in the past number of years. For example in the past 12 months a shop has closed in Ballycumber.

He also spoke about planning permission in Offaly. He said that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get planning permission, as the council do not want to be setting up and looking after facilities in the countryside as it is costly to so. It is cheaper to extend the facilities around towns.

He also spoke about how the MIDOC service in Birr and Edenderry shut down recently which is creating more pressure for the MIDOC service in Tullamore. Another topic that he spoke about is how people migrating to bigger cities from the countryside is making it harder for G.A.A. clubs to get numbers for underage teams. For example Lusmagh and Kinnitty which would have been two hurling strongholds in Offaly both had to join together to have underage teams. The journey from one pitch to another is 26 kilometers.

John told the class about how business’ are looking to move to outskirts of towns as it is cheaper than renting a premises in the centre of town. People also prefer to shop in the outskirts of town as there is much more space for cars and also the parking is free on the outskirts. This is killing the trade in the centre of towns all across the country. With the motorway it is very easy to reach shopping outlets in Kildare, Dublin and Galway in a short space of time this entices people to go to these shopping centres and not to shop in their local town.

Finally he talked about how some schools are in danger of closing down in the countryside. Two teacher schools are in serious danger of being shut down as they do not have the number of students to keep the school open. Ballyboy Primary School is a local example of a school in danger of being shutdown.

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