Civil servant Michael Moore, 49, and his wife Gerri decided to take advantage of a scheme to decentralise Irish government, leaving the capital Dublin to set up a new home in the Reeks District in 2007. They now live in Killorglin with their young family Ciara, 8, and Oisín, 6. Here he tells us about their life in the Reeks District.
When the chance came to move away from their native Dublin, Michael Moore and his wife, Gerri, didn’t take much in the way of persuasion, despite both having management jobs in the civil service, working for the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Health respectively.
“We’d both lived there for all our lives, but when the then government embarked on a decentralisation programme, we jumped at the chance,” he recalls. “We both loved the outdoors – I was a scout leader and we both enjoy hill walking and white water and sea kayaking – and we’d visited the south-west enough times to know that we could enjoy living here.”
Despite their love of the outdoors, Michael and his wife deliberated for a while about the location destined to become their new home: “We took out a map of the country and began to pour over it, matching the jobs on offer with the location in which they were available…. But Kerry just seemed such a great fit. Aside from the outdoor lifestyle we were looking for, it also has great connections to the capital meaning we could get a train back when we wanted,and family could easily visit us. Then there were lots of mountains and lots of lakes… What wasn’t to like?”
Michael took up another civil service position as part of the move, looking after sports grants at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport… but admits he did suffer from minor culture shock when the move became real: “Up until then, I’d always associated being in Kerry with being on holiday, so to suddenly have to get up and go to work here on Monday mornings seemed a little strange,” he admits. “I suppose looking back there were a few things we didn’t expect, but they have nearly all been positive.”
One of the biggest differences says Michael is the friendliness of the people and the sense of community found in Kerry: “As we were leaving our apartment in Dublin, I passed one of the other residents on the stairs as I was carrying boxes. ‘Moving in or out?’ he asked me… we’d lived in the same block of just eight flats for a year and we’d never even spoken.”
That big city vibe of rushed lives and smaller social circles has certainly not been repeated in the Reeks District. “In Dublin, you go into a butchers, ask for some sausages and walk out,” he says. “In Killorglin, you have to stop and say hello and discuss the weather. Everyone knows each other and there is a real community feel.”
The smaller town feel is mirrored in the services on offer, a fact that’s particularly noticeable with two young children now born and bred in Kerry: “My friends in Dublin have to put their kids’ names down for schools almost as soon as they are conceived. You don’t have to do that here – the schools are very, very good and, compared to Dublin, there is plenty of space,” he says.
Michael and his wife have also taken to volunteering as part of their integration into Kerry life with Michael taking on a leadership role in a local scout troop and Gerri helping out with the local GAA club.
“The scouting was good in Dublin thanks to the Dublin and Wicklow mountains being close by,” he says. “But you still have to get on a bus for an hour or so to get to them. Here, most people can jump in their car and be at the foot of Carrauntoohil in a matter of minutes. Access is amazing and, when we went on a camp a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t see another soul.”
The move also means Michael can indulge in his other passion: canoeing and kayaking and he is now also a prominent member of Killorglin’ Kerry Canoe Club. “I’ve been into canoeing since my early 20s – it’s my main sport and one of the reasons we chose to move to Kerry,” he says. “We have sea kayaking and rivers from Grade 2 to 5. It’s great to be able to help some of the younger guys discover a love of the sport at the club.”
All in all, it sounds very much like Michael and his family have found his ideal spot in the country. “Oh, we have,” he says. “You couldn’t pay us to go back and live in Dublin.”
Read more stories from our Reflections on the Reeks series