Deserted Village radio documentary on Newtowngore and Kesh

“It will be difficult to explain what has happened, except that people got on a merry-go-round and were just blind.”

“It will be difficult to explain what has happened, except that people got on a merry-go-round and were just blind.”

That is one of the quotes that stands out in a radio documentary that will air on Newstalk 106-108FM this month which focuses on the building boom and then the bust in Newtowngore, Keshcarrigan and Ballinamore.

Independent producer and reformed archaeologist Jane Ruffino looks at what happened when development sites and houses became a cash crop in lovely Leitrim. This one-hour documentary, which will air on Newstalk 106-108fm on March 24 and 25 and looks in depth at one chapter of a long history of Leitrim’s landscape, through the stories of people who shape it. It’s a tale of short-lived prosperity, long-standing community, absent homeowners, and invisible St Patrick’s Day parades.

News crews often visit the county, find the most harrowing crash time housing estate, tell it against a backdrop of rain-soaked dereliction, and go home again -- from boom time property porn to present-day ruin porn. The housing bubble is often discussed as a crisis of bricks and mortar, and of large-scale financial disaster, which makes it all too easy to ignore the way people’s lives intertwine, and runs the risk of depersonalising, not only the crisis, but the entire landscape. How were so many houses built? Who was buying them? What happens now, and how will we read this landscape in the future?

In the doucmentary, farmer Michael Dolan, who sold a piece of land to put his kids through college says, “It will be difficult to explain what has happened, except that people got on a merry-go-round and were just blind.”

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.