The Hackathon

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    Anonymous User39Anonymous User39

    Haiceatón Árainn Mhóir 2021 – The Island Repopulation

    Before the beginning of the hackathon, Seán Ó Fuaráin, Marc Ó Muireadhaigh, Daragh Ó Ceallaigh and I decided to join as a group and investigate the topic of island repopulation. We had a few brief meetings beforehand to share our thoughts and to get a better understanding of what lay ahead of us.

    At the beginning of the hackathon, we met all of the mentors; islanders, ‘Three’ workers, final year students, etc. The islanders gave us great insights into what life was like on Árainn Mhór in times gone by, what life is like now and life will be like in the future. We thought it was very interesting and also essential for us to complete our project. After the first day, we began organising our presentation. Seán was to begin and end the presentation while also organising the slideshow. Daragh’s duty was to give an insight to our viewers into the reasons hundreds of people left the island and Marc had responsibilty of telling us the reasons why repopulation is already happening at present. It was my job to come up with an idea of how the island could further raise their population.


    When we were talking with Adrian Begley, especially, we were made aware that there was a housing crisis on the island. The demand was there for housing but availability was poor. There were a number of reasons for this. Firstly, families tend to have a loving attachment with houses of their ancestors and are usually unwilling to sell them. Secondly, in certain cases wills are not made and the ownership of the properties are uncertain and because of this the properties are left in a state that is unsuitable for living in.

    To address this issue, we thought of a tax incentive programme. There is every chance an islander would not be willing to sell of put their houses on the rental market but if they were given the opportunity to pay less tax to the government, there is a high chance that their house would come onto the market for potential settlers. As well as this theory, we gave information on certain schemes relating to the redevelopment of buildings, such as the GLAS Scheme, a scheme that gives financial help to people who wish to redevelop old farm buildings. We thought; why can’t these be transformed to residential properties?


    Lessons learned?


    It was evident that everybody enjoyed the project. It was intersting and we had a lot of fun with the mentors. As we were earning academic points we were also doing good for an island community in West Donegal. I am aware our plan would be hard to implement but as Seamus Bonner says, ‘No plan is impossible.’



    Fresh ideas

    In my opinion, to run a project like this, I believe students are vital, who know little information about the topic. This happened with this hackathon and because of this fresh ideas were put forward that were unbiased. This was done brilliantly throughout this hackathon and because of this three original ideas were put forward which may be of huge benefit to the future of the island.

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