The long read: Amid high vacancy rates can the town centres hold?

With large towns such as Tralee and Dundalk reporting vacancy rates of 25 per cent, retail outside the big cities is struggling. Will the government’s new plan, Our Rural Future, manage to halt the decay?

Restaurateur Annmarie Ryan at her French Quarter cafe in Tipperary town Pic: Barry Cronin

Like many business owners, it’s not in Annmarie Ryan’s nature to talk negatively about her hometown, or highlight its weaknesses, but she feels she has to.

“It’s easy to accuse someone of being negative, but I think we have to be realistic right now,” the owner of the French Quarter café in Tipperary town said.

“What I see are a lot of properties that have been lying vacant for quite a while, and that leads ...