Over the last decade many towns and villages in West Cork, and across Ireland, have been hurt badly by the recession and emigration. Young people move to the cities for work and to launch business ideas.
Bright ideas and minds are lost. Not to mention the effect on the social community, the GAA Clubs and life in rural Ireland. But one village is the first to buck the trend. And in more ways than one.
This year we saw the two brother rowers from Skibbereen show the world that they can compete and win big in the Olympics. The drive and positivity of the two O’Donovan brothers were seen as a tonic for the nation and rural Ireland. One other tonic which is already up and transforming Skibbereen and its surrounding area is that of SIRO.
Around the same time as the start of the Olympics, SIRO came to Skibbereen in the form of The Ludgate Hub: a 1 Gigabit digital hub for entrepreneurs and businesses that is helping to launch a new digital age for West Cork.
Just as the brothers took on the world, the workers and business launchers of the Ludgate Hub are now taking on the world. With the fastest broadband speeds in not only the country but on par with that in Tokyo and Hong Kong, Skibbereen is no longer lagging behind.
The Ludgate Hub, originally a cinema in 1941, is now a 10,000 square foot digital hub which is creating a new entrepreneurial eco-system in West Cork. There are now over 30 people working hard and fast in the Ludgate Hub. And it is seeking to create 500 jobs in the next 5 years, with a multi-million euro boost to the local economy.
But it’s not just about the jobs it brings. The hub is also helping to bring home Irish emgrants such as David Carroll, a Skibbereen native who returned from Marbella with his wife and two children. Having guaranteed broadband speeds that are assured for decades to come is also attracting non-Irish natives from all over the world.
Jane and Evan Sims have now moved all the way to Skibbereen from Chicago; and Christopher Mason has come from the Hollywood land of Los Angeles to this new kind of big screen magic: The Ludgate Hub.
But it’s not just about the jobs it brings. James Long relocated his company, Our Valiance, from Silicon Valley to Skibbereen for a more balanced lifestyle. All made possible by SIRO connectivity in the Ludgate Hub.
As Sean Atkinson, CEO of SIRO summarised the effects of SIRO on a rural community such as Skibbereen: “The launch of the Ludgate Hub is the moment that life in Skibbereen changes forever as it opens up a new world of possibilities.
We have already seen people and businesses relocating to Skibbereen from places like Barcelona and Chicago in anticipation of the launch, which just goes to show how important 100% fibre optic broadband technology is in attracting investment in rural Ireland.”
“ As a Gigabit town, Skibbereen’s young people have the potential to create the next Google or Facebook right here rather than having to move to urban areas to fulfil their ambition.”
Skibbereen is simply a microcosm of the transformative effect that SIRO can have in small towns and on a national basis. SIRO allows all sorts of businesses to compete on a level playing field nationally and internationally. Businesses can develop e-commerce platforms and sell to the world.
Students can access international educational opportunities. And farmers can engage with international specialists and learn new methods.
The tide is turning. And Skibbereen is rowing for victory. Once again.