Co. Leitrim

“We, as a species, exist in a world in which exist a myriad of data points. Upon these matrices of points we superimpose a structure and the world makes sense to us.”
Persinger & Lafreniere
Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events

“Leitrim, like reality, is good at alluding expectations, neither one thing or the other, here nor there.” –local saying

County Leitrim is like any county in Ireland, unique. It is popularly known as ‘Lovely Leitrim’ due to its scenic beauty which includes hills and mountains, many lakes and the river Shannon. It has been a traditionally poor county (which suffered more than most during the famine) with a poor (daub) soil for farming that leaves the plentiful rainfall pooling on the surface where only rushes can thrive. Couple this with little employment and it is no wonder it has long suffered from local emigration. While this has led to it having the smallest population of any county for some long time (31,778 in the 2011 census) it can boast the highest percentage of non nationals and those born outside the county. This trend started in the 1970’s when mainly German and Dutch nationals emigrated here to buy cheap property and farmland to practice a more back to nature lifestyle – theirs was a more intensive farming with polytunnels, raised beds and organic practices. These were joined in the 80’s and 90’s by mainly UK nationals fleeing what some of them saw as the persecution of Margaret Thatcher. In the late 90’s and 2000’s large numbers of Irish also began to move here from the cities to buy homes at more affordable prices and to live closer to nature for what they hoped would be a better life. In 2005 the decline of its population reversed for the first time since the famine in the mid 1840’s and since 2001 it can boast the highest percentage of refugee and exiled peoples of any other county, making it a truly international county. It also currently has the highest percentage of people working in the creative or traditional arts.

This almost utopian potential however has become balanced by a more dystopian side with high unemployment, 1 in 3 houses being unoccupied and many unfinished housing estates and empty retail properties marring the landscape since the economic collapse of late 2000’s. It is also currently under threat by companies who want to frack for gas there. It is a county still strong in local myths and legends where short lived contemporary myths about making your fortune in property by building in the most unlikely of places collide with more established fables of respecting the land or bad luck caused by the fairies will follow. These fables have had to compete with the more subjective expectations and aspirations of the people who live there, want to live there or just think about there. Due to all of these factors and more it has become very much a place always in transition, inbetween, different to everyone, a place neither here nor there. It is a place that could do with a guide, however subjective.

Stephen Rennicks

Other subjective guides to Co. Leitrim

Co. Leitrim at Wikipedia

DBC Pierre on Co. Leitrim

Michael Harding on Co. Leitrim