GAA mad, no Internet access, and no property bubble; just some of the many reasons why Leitrim is the best county in Ireland.
Few counties feel as obscure and ignored as my own native county of Leitrim. I mean, who would have thought that a border county, with no large towns, and a history of continuous emigration that exceeds any other county, would not really be one of the most well-known areas on this island?
For example, over a year ago, a poll by myhome.ie showed that Leitrim was voted as the “least appealing county for a holiday”.
Yes, people think that Laois, which is host to the infamous Portlaoise (and that’s just the town!), Offaly, which has some of the worse potholes I’ve ever seen, and Longford - which has WHAT going for it, exactly? - are actually more appealing places to visit than a county with the most pubs and the most lakes per capita in Ireland (admittedly not a great combination, but that’s what makes us unique).
To right this horrendous wrong, I’ve decided to write up a list of reasons why Leitrim is one of the best counties in Ireland – and the best that you have probably never heard of.
Sure, the last time we won even the Connacht Championship was back in 1994, but don’t let the lack of Silverware (and possible lack of players) fool you, Leitrim is GAA-mad to the bone.
It has the most players and clubs per capita of any Irish county, and we are always strong contenders at the GAA’s cultural competition, Scór. Soccer and Rugby clubs are virtually non-existent. What we lack in Championship trophies, we easily make up with a commitment to our national sporting heritage that is second to none – we are in it for solely for the fun and the love of the sport.
In fairness, if we were only in it for the trophies, Leitrim GAA would probably have been disbanded decades ago.
No Property Bubble
Yeah, maybe Dublin is desirable to live in – but let’s be real here, nowadays living in Dublin is only a pipe dream for ordinary people. You have to pay over half a million just for a relatively ordinary 3-bed-semi, and pay ridiculous deposits to access a mortgage.
In contrast, there are whole estates of houses in Leitrim that could be easily picked up for that amount, and houses going for prices that would be less than the deposit you would have to put down for a shoebox flat in the capital these days.
Sure, that might have something to do with the chronic oversupply of houses in a sparsely-populated county with few employment prospects, which is over 2 hours away from the nearest cities.
But hey, it’s the same cost-benefit calculation that one makes when booking a cheap Ryanair ticket that lands you in an obscure airport hours away from where you want to be – and don’t we all love Ryanair?
Mediocre to terrible Broadband infrastructure
Much fuss is made over the availability of super-fast Broadband, or 4G availability for mobiles. However, with surveys showing how stressful the internet is becoming to many people, wouldn’t you love to just get away from it all?
If so, Leitrim is the perfect choice. When you hear about the boasts by mobile companies of “4G availability across 90% of the country”, have you ever wondered where that other 10% was located?
As it turns out, a lot of that 10% is located in Leitrim. Some post offices in the county still rely on dial-up, and as for Netflix or broadband companies like UPC – forget about it all!
Weak Phone Signals
Even without the pesky internet, there is still the old-fashioned mobile to worry about…or is there? Good news for you – mobile phone signals here have been degrading over the last several years, to the point that they are effectively useless in many rural households in the county.
Don’t panic – if you need to call an ambulance or something, and don’t have a handy landline phone, you can always head up to the lovely Leitrim mountains, and make your phone call while admiring some beautiful, sparse scenery.
Ambulance Response times
If you decide to holiday in South-East Leitrim in particular, another convenience of modern life that you can happily forget about is prompt Ambulance response times to medical emergencies.
Once you manage to get an emergency call through to the ambulance services, all you have to do is still back and relax. Sure, there is some target response time of 18 minutes, but since the nearest Ambulance station is over half an hour away – and often don’t have spare vehicles, and as a result has to resort to getting an ambulance from further afield – you can enjoy a restful hour waiting for emergency services to arrive.
So, the above reasons are far from an in-exhaustive list – but they do showcase the best aspects of life in Leitrim, and demonstrates that it is a county whose citizens have full access to the rights and public services that fellow citizens living elsewhere in this country take for granted.