Big Read

Shuttered retailers, big factory closures, disappearing trade: Ireland’s forgotten heartlands

Locals in towns like Clonmel, Lanesborough and Shannonbridge are taking action to revive, restore and foster a sustainable future for their communities

‘Earlier this year, people started breaking the windows of the empty shops [in Clonmel, Co Tipperary]. It looked dreadful and was quite dangerous. In the end, they decided to just board a lot of it up.’ Picture: Bryan Meade

Since Rosemary Donovan opened her bookshop on the corner of Emmet Street in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, 18 years ago, she has watched the area around her slowly creep towards a sad state of dereliction. The boisterous retail quarter she moved into has become a ghost town.

Donovan’s store, The Book Market, sits on the fringe of Clonmel’s Market Place, a pedestrianised area of the town with space for about 20 shops.

The retail cluster first ...