by Rhoda Twombly
“Connectivity” is all-important in these days of working towards sustainability and indeed survival, especially for those of us living in rural Ireland and particularly for Islanders. I like to consider the importance of human connectivity as well – of reaching out, of meitheal (working together for the common good), of supporting and building our Island communities and all that grows and lives on them.
Provision of realistic broadband is an on-going problem for our islands so it is exciting that the mobile provider 3 seems to have solved the problem for Arranmore Island. This did not happen overnight: several islanders have been researching broadband systems for quite some time to find the solution. 3’s business team, working with Arranmore’s Business Council, has created one of the most connected places on Earth with connections to the secondary school, medical centre, the co-op, ferry office as well as a digital hub with 13 work stations, some already in use.
This development will have an effect on many aspects of island life: already the government e-hub learning initiative for secondary Gaeltacht schools has been launched. This will enable Gaeltacht schools, including the island schools, to broaden the range of course taught through Irish. Arannmore and other island students will now be able to add physics to their course load and this will extend to curriculum for science, maths, technology and engineering.
Arranmore’s craft workers have also launched a website, http://www.madeinarranmor.com to promote and sell their products. The Business Council is now looking into working with Grow Remote, a group that promotes and supports working remotely to support communities, to see how they can use their new connectivity to benefit the lives of all on the island. So while Arranmore is now digitally connected, this will lead to people connecting with each other to grow their businesses and communities.
For more background on this project please see https://www.three.ie/business/blog/connecting-an-island-arranmore-is-open-for-business/ . At the end of this article is a link to the video 3 made about Arranmore’s connectivity – do watch it!