The intersection between rural geographies and growing older in Ireland is significant across social, economic, health, political and cultural domains.The distribution and demography of the older population throughout the island places a natural emphasis on rural life when considering the experiences of those growing older in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Older adults are over represented in rural communities, with old age dependency ratios higher in rural areas than in urban locations.

What is more is that the health; social and cultural lives of rural dwelling older people are embedded in the landscapes that surround them and are, to an extent, shaped by the infrastructures that these landscapes afford. It is on this basis that accommodation, poverty, transport, isolation and social exclusion are sometimes linked with rural ageing. While there is a concentration on such factors in the international literature there is also recognition that rural living is multifaceted and encompasses much more than just negative aspects.

The contribution of rural living to the lives of older people and the contribution of older people themselves to rural communities can be substantial. For these reasons, growing older in rural communities presents a rich environment for research and a set of complex and intriguing questions which need to be explored.The importance of rural dimensions for ageing in Ireland and Northern Ireland has been recognised. However, research on this topic has been fragmented and limited to small-scale projects in the two regions. In addition the capacity for cross-border and interdisciplinary study of rural ageing has not been developed in any meaningful manner.
Consequently, there is a lack of understanding of the difficulties and inequalities, and the opportunities and potential, which face rural older people and the implications for healthy ageing. Establishing an interdisciplinary cross-border research network on healthy ageing in rural communities will help to address these deficiencies; stimulating and coordinating future research across the island of Ireland.

News and Events

Launch of HARC Report on Older People in Rural Communities
The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway will host a seminar on ageing and the recession, in conjunction with the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), Irish Rural Link and the Rural Community Network Northern Ireland. The seminar will take place on Thursday the 9th of December and Friday the 10th of December in the Martin Ryan Institute (Annex) at NUI Galway. As a part of this conference the report on the HARC baseline study (link here), entitled ‘Older People in Rural Communities: Exploring Attachment, Contribution, and Diversity in Rural Ireland and Northern Ireland’, will be launched on Friday the 10th of December. The report is available for download here

Press Release

“An Age Old Problem – Where Now for Rural Services”
The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway is hosting a seminar on rural ageing and the recession, in conjunction with the Centre for Ageing Research and Development …Read full story here

€85,000 Funding for Research on Social Exclusion and Rural Ageing
The HARC research network secured €85,000 worth of funding under the CARDI Call 3 grants programme to conduct research on social exclusion and ageing in diverse rural communities (SEADRC). This work is based upon findings of the HARC baseline study. The funding marks further success in the Network’s capacity to secure research funding and to focus attention on rural ageing across the island of Ireland.