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Andrew Hersey with his partner Emma Hogan and their four year old son Monty at the Pollack Holes, near where they now live, in Kilkee. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare communities in study of pandemic effect on commuting

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ENNISTYMON and Lahinch are to feature among the case studies of an inter-university study on the impacts of pre and post-Covid commuting on people and places.
The InPLACE: Investigating Place, Planning and Commuting two-year research programme has been launched by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD).
According to the team behind the study, the findings will have significance for a range of public policies, many of which are within the remit of local authorities, and all of which directly influence local communities.
Issue such as health, housing, environment, community development, social policy, transportation and spatial planning would all be affected.
The InPLACE study represents a unique research collaboration between Maynooth University, Ulster University, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, University College Dublin, and the University of Maryland in the US.
The study team is headed by Professor Des McCafferty of Mary Immaculate College. Local level data are currently being collected by Brendan O’Keeffe of O’Keeffe Social Research.
Brendan has been on the ground in North Clare recently and told us there has already been a positive level of engagement from the community.
The study is supported by the National Regional and Urban Planning Policy Section within the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR); the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and Clare County Council.
Those behind the study outlined, “Covid-19 has been a major disruptor in all our lives, since early 2020. The global pandemic has dramatically changed the activity patterns of individuals and families, transforming everyday geographies, and the scale at which we live our lives.
“The implications for places and communities are potentially profound. One of the areas where this is most clearly seen is the changing relationship between work and home.
“The enforced switch to home working has significantly reduced commuting to work, which had become a prominent feature of life on the island of Ireland.
“Decades of development have generated a growing concentration of employment in larger urban areas, which in turn has resulted in greater volumes and distances of commuting, and a steady increase in time spent commuting.
“Despite this, there is a lack of Irish research on commuting, especially on questions relating to its impact on place, and place-based communities.
“Now, with the Covid-induced interruption in what had seemed an inexorable trend towards ever greater commuting, these questions about the relationships between commuting and community assume even greater significance.
“This timely study sets out to address the gaps in our knowledge of this area, and to capture recent, and anticipated future, changes to commuting and telecommuting behaviours.
“In a context where the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the relationship between home and work, and consequently on communities and places, is only beginning to be understood, this study will capture the developing situation.
“Using a case study approach set within an island of Ireland context, the implications of commuting (pre-Covid) and telecommuting (during Covid) for individuals, their families and the communities in which they live will be critically examined.”
The project is being delivered in two phases with Ennistymon – Lahinch the control area in the first phase.

by Jessica Quinn

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