first_imgA television documentary is to examine the reasons behind the drastic depopulation of Donegal’s Arranmore Island from 1,000 people to just over 500 in the past 50 years.Arranmore IslandIslanders is a TV3 documentary series focusing on life on Ireland’s islands.The four part series begins on Wednesday, April 15th and promises to be compulsive viewing. Documentary-makers set the scene…..Just three kilometers from the coast, Arranmore has two car ferries, two co-operatives, a fire-service, a secondary school and even a nightclub!Outwardly it seems perfect but it has a problem, a problem emblematic of many islands – its population is in swift decline.In the last fifty years, Arranmore’s population has halved from one thousand to five hundred, whilst nearly forty five percent of residents are over sixty five years of age. In the first episode of this landmark series for TV3, we meet Dr Shirley Gallagher (40s), a typical Arranmore Islander.Born off the island in London whilst her island parents were working there, Shirley’s family was reared on Arranmore. Shirley is well-travelled, well-educated and well able to speak her mind.Working in Sustainability & Environmental issues, Shirley returned home two years ago to apply all her learning and experience to her own home. She believes there are those on the island that don’t want to see change whilst others are apathetic.“When I saw the statistics on population decline I was truly shocked. You see the empty houses and derelict homes all around the place but it didn’t really trigger. I thought I need to do something about this – and here I am.”The impact of the population decline on Arranmore is entwined with another issue. Once, Arranmore had thirty trawlers and nearly one hundred men fishing its waters. Now, its inshore fleet is down to four boats with most men leaving to work in the more lucrative industries of mining or tunneling. But not all the men have left. Mild-mannered fisherman Neilie Kavanagh (40s) is preparing for the busy season ahead. Neilie is heartbroken over the decline of the inshore fishing industry in Arranmore.The ‘injustice’ of what has happened to his fishing village is deeply felt and it is hard not to feel sympathy for him. He explains the Catch-22 of the ‘harsh regulations’. If he is caught fishing illegally his licence will be revoked and his father’s family boat will no longer be able to fish. He is the custodian of the boat – the St. Anthony, built by his father on Arranmore over 40 years ago. Neilie has never worked or lived off Arranmore:“I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to emigrate. The boat was there and there were no rules or regulations when I started in 1983. You could fish away. You could catch spurdogs – they banned that, driftnet for salmon – they put in rules and regulations, in 2006 they put a complete ban on catching salmon. It was terrible because there were so many families depending on it.”Neilie blames bureaucracy and over-regulation for the decline of his way-of-life. The salmon fishery was a major earner during the season for Arranmore families. To compound matters fishing with gillnets was banned in AreaVIa – a major fishing ground off Donegal. This was done to preserve cod stocks but the Arranmore fishermen didn’t fish cod – they used gillnets to catch bait. In a perverse twist of fate they had to purchase their own bait from Killybegs in order to bait their pots.The fishing of spurdogs was also banned in 2008 in AreaVIa. Much of the inshore fleet is old and creaky having been decommissioned from the UK over 30 or 40 years ago so there is a sizeable barrier to entry for any new generations.In 2006 the fishermen of Arranmore were offered buyouts for their salmon licences. Most, including Neilie, refused to sell believing the outright ban to be unjust. The remaining fishermen of Arranmore were forced to turn to year-round fishing for crab and lobster. Neilie declares:“I was born and bred here and we’ve been fishing here, and my father before me, for over one hundred years. For them to turn around and say we were destroying the stocks is crazy. We’ve been doing this for over one hundred years.”With many twists and turns along the way, Islanders will follow the lives and stories of these characters to learn what threatens their survival, to discover a different way of life, and to share in what it means to be an islander.TV DOCUMENTARY TO EXAMINE DECLINE IN DONEGAL ISLAND’S POPULATION was last modified: April 3rd, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:arranmoredonegalISLANDERSTV3last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *