Ireland's problems

Visitors to Ireland, this page is for you : if you have browsed through my many galleries of photos of Ireland, you may imagine a country with plenty of unspoilt nature, great atmosphere, lovely sights and you may conclude it's quite an idyllic place. But that's an appearance. The facts are not so rosy. Below are a few of the many problems facing Ireland, and sadly, at the time of writing, not much was being done.



Whether you walk in town, whether you cycle in the countryside, or whether you walk in a wood, you notice one common thing, present everywhere, even in the most unexpected place : rubbish, litter (lucozade bottles, crisp bags, tea cups, ... even washing machines). On often sees drivers throwing an empty cup of coffee out of the car window. It has become so bad that I recently read in the news that a british company organising cycling trips around Europe has decided to take Ireland off its list due to complains from cyclists about litter in the irish countryside.

rubbish in ireland

This photo was taken at the start of the trail to the Mullinhassig waterfall, near the car park. When I cycle around, I see the ditches and roadside littered with empty cigarette packs, lucozade bottles, coca-cola cans, paper, not just in one place, but everywhere, every meter, for miles. Many irish people have no respect for the environment. Is it a lack of common sense or a lack of education ? When mushroom picking in a wood with friends, we even found a washing machine : we could not help wonder how and why some people dragged it there in he woods, rather than bring it to a refuse collection point.


irish street

Underage teenagers not being allowed in pubs, they drink on the street and leave behind bottles of beer. Many streets are littered with beer or lucozade bottles, cans and paper. I asked a kid "what do you think of this ?". He said "what ?". I said "all this rubbish"... He shrugged and walked on. Sounds to me like a lack of education : kids grow up with rubbish on their door step so they don't care, and they'll continue throwing rubbish too....

irish street


Typical scene after a rainy windy day in Cork :

It looks like the locals get pissed off when their umbrella tears apart in the wind and they just dump the smashed-up remains on the street. More rubbish ...

broken umbrella



This country has a great heritage of medieval castles, churches, holy wells, stone circles... but these are rarely marked, and mostly unprotected from vandalism or "development".

Example 1 : "Developement" of Puxley manor / Dunboy castle

Below is one of such examples : what used to be a magnificent ruin near Castletownbere on Beara peninsula, set in a park with public access, will now be an exclusive 5 star hotel, build by a foreign millionnaire. This manor has a long history, including events related to the irish independence, but instead of preserving this ruin, it will be "restored" beyond recognition. Obviously, it will be a very profitable business for the hotel chain.


dunboy castle before

Above : the superb ruin of Puxley Manor (Dunboy Castle)
Below : work started in transforming this historical site into a 5 star hotel

dunboy castle affter

Example 2 : access denied to the Old Head of Kinsale.

When the golf club was set up, the owner was supposed to allow public access along the cliff s but never did so. The "Free the Old Head of Kinsale Campaign" has been organising events to restore the public's right but to no avail so far.

golf club kinsale

The area you see on this photo is off limit, but imagine how superb must be a walk around the Old Head. I feel anger everytime I am in front of the gate of the golf club, who has unlawfully grabbed this piece of nature by not allowing public right of way along the cliffs. This exclusive club is one of the biggest shame of Ireland, and the best illustration of how the money of a few can prevail on the rights of many. See also here for more info.

Example 3 : hidden old gate in Cork city

This example is the case of an old gate, dated 1779 which instead of being shown as part of historical Cork, is shamefully hidden behind a building amongst rubbish bins. I don't know exactly the history of this gate but if anyone does, please let me know. It's located in a corner of the car park at the back of Dunnes Store near the Gates cinema.

old gate cork cork heritage




Cork is not the best city for cycling because it's quite hilly and the street are often very narrow. Having said that, it's a great way to beat the traffic, which can be really bad at rush hour. Unfortunately, there are very very few cycling lanes. and their design is not always very smart ....


Bad design :


A ridiculous cycling lane :
whoever made it sureley never rode a bike : it simply ends against the pavement

irish cycling lane





Lack of respect :


Most locals also have no respect for cycling lanes and simply use them as handy parking places. I suggest to lift the windscreen sweeper or dismount the mirrors on these cars, perhaps after a while they'll understand.





cork cycling lanes



Medical public service has long been a really prominent issue in irish politics. Waiting lists for people on medical cards (public insurance) are ridiculously long. Recently, the government has set up as scheme whereby patients may benefit from healthcare abroad if the irish system is incapable of providing this service within a reasonable time. Those who can afford to pay for medical care get a quicker service and this has created much inequality among irish citizens.

Regarding public transport, Irish cities have grown very fast and investment in public transport did not follow. A city of the same size of Dublin in France or Germany would have an tramway or an underground system. In Cork, there are only buses which run often late, sometimes early so you miss them, and are often packed.

In 4 years living in Cork, I have seen roads constantly being dug up or resurfaced in one place or another. Potholes are so common that the website "People Republic of Cork" has dedicated a page to the "pothole of the month".




Ireland got rich very quickly the number of cars on the road rose much faster than facilities could follow. Also, it's now a country where money rules : people have become materialistic and they like to show off with those big and ugly 4-wheel drives, two of which can barely pass on the narrow streets of Cork. Another category of materialist people : youngsters (often still on provisional license) show off by driving modified cars with loud exhaust pipes and ridiculous spoilers.

Parking space is becoming scarce compared to the number of cars. As people have become more shelfish and individuallistic, showing a complete lack of respect for each other, you see drivers parked on a double line in front of the shop, blocking traffic, instead of going a mere 50 m further for a space and then walking to the shop. But well, that's everywhere I think. At least in Ireland they don't honk, they seem to find it normal.





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