«Suburbia: social and spatial trends that emerged in Celtic Tiger Ireland. Matthew Williams Department of Geography, University College Cork, Ireland. ...»
The belief that the village is suitable for raising children is reinforced by figure 1.7 which provides vivid illustration that 39% of the population consists of families with children less than 12 years of age and 26% is made up of families with teenage children. These percentages combined, amount to 65% which gives a clear indication of the village’s life-stage and insists that the new residents are at a foundational life-stage in which they are branching away from their own friends and family to begin their own home and have children. This ties neatly with the suburban ideal mentioned above, of establishing a family life away from the “morally corrupting” externalities (Mace, 2009, p 77) of the urban lifestyle in order to raise their children in a more safe and family conducive environment.
Figure 4: Life-Stage of Clerihan’s Residents
The origin of Clerihan’s new residents is represented in Figure 1.8. This shows that the new residents originated predominantly from Clonmel, a town located 8.6km from Clerihan. Such a finding was to be expected as the very process of suburbanisation is described at the dispersal of population from an urban centre. However, this result substantiates the suggestion that it is indeed suburbanisation that has occurred in Clerihan. Those who originated in Clonmel account for 54% of responses, therefore allowing the new residents to establish themselves within a new community while still remaining close enough to their prior facility base and social networks as discussed above.
After all, as research has shown families that are in their formative stages tend to depend on nearby social support when their children are very young (see Gray, Corcoran, & Peillon, 2009). This would be expected of the new young resident population of Clerihan.
Figure 5: Origin of new residents
Contrary to the suggestion above that economic and social competition plays a large role in the a populations decision to migrate to suburban areas, only one percent of Clerihan’s population identified that their moving it “was a good investment at the time,” however a substantial proportion (13.5%) suggested they moved for housing affordability and attraction to a particular house design was admitted by 6.3% of respondents (figure 1.6). This means that while economic and social competition is not evident among the motives, a clear sense of financial awareness and economic logic was present. Clerihan’s residents may not have counted economic investment among their incentives for moving, however, when asked how long they envisage staying in the area and what their residential status is, their level of investment in the area itself becomes apparent (see Figures 1.9 and 2.0). 72% on 59 Clerihan’s residents envisage staying in the area permanently and 81.8% of residents either own their home already or are paying their mortgage.
Perhaps one reason for the assured permanency of Clerihan’s new residents is employment in the area. As can be seen in figure 1.6 “proximity to work” was an important factor for 12.5%. Figures 2.1 and 2.2 indicate that 62% of the population are living in households where both adults are employed, while only 9% of these work in Clerihan itself.
While Clerihan’s profile as a suburban commuter village is reinforced by the knowledge that 64% of the population commute to work in Clonmel while another 27% commute elsewhere. This means that transport links to and from the Clerihan are extremely important in order to provide means for residents to commute regularly.
6 Discussion and Conclusions It is evident that suburban growth in villages such as Clerihan was as a result of the “property boom” brought on by the Celtic Tiger due to the particular period of time in which property development emerged, the similarities between Clerihan’s growth pattern and the national planning permission statistics, and finally, the way in which developments are left incomplete due to the economic downturn. However, while the economic prosperity lasted, newfound affluence enabled many young families to go in search of the “suburban dream”. The questionnaire results illustrate Clerihan has been identified as a suitable place for raising children due to the large proportion 61 residents have that teenagers or young children. This result ties directly to the perceptions of idyllic suburban space and place discussed above. It is clear to see that Clerihan is spatial proof that parents consider suburban areas as perfect locations for rearing “3-4 children, the detached house, play area and garden” (Waitt, et al, 2000, p. 299) and firmly in keeping with suburban migration motives internationally. Clerihan’s localised in-migration was to be expected. The very concept of Suburbanisation is driven by the dispersal of people from densely populated areas to more spacious locations at the periphery. With the majority of Clerihan’s new residents maintaining employment in the Clonmel and its environs, their movement to Clerihan is a combined result of their desire to maintain their previous social connections with “access to family circles in a locality nearby,” (Gray, Corcoran, & Peillon, 2009) and easy access to their place of work, while also creating an adequate distinction between work/origin/home spatialisation where they can become transparent and involved in the mutual identification and social closeness of community (Young, 1990). While evidence of social and economic competition was not evident from the suggested incentives of the residents, it is clear that elements of economic initiative and logic were present and that the new residents are heavily invested in the area for the most part due to their profession of permanency. Despite suburbanisation being a relatively new trend in Ireland, it would appear that it its processes, elements and migrant incentives are extremely similar to the processes of suburbanisation which have been observed in Australia, Central and Eastern Europe, he United Kingdom and the United States.
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Acknowledgments 63 Special thanks to Therese Kenna, Fr. Ailbe O’Bric the residents of Clerihan village, my colleauges in the UCC Geography Department and my reviewers.
Biographical statement Matthew K. Williams is an assistant researcher in the Geography Department at University College Cork where he is in the second year of his Ph.D. in social and urban Geography. Current research interests include, sex work in Irish cities, social and spatial inclusion/exclusion, and urban planning.
Contact details Matthew Williams, Department of Geography, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.