West Cork islanders Olive and Sean O’Neill have been forced to put their home up for sale and are moving to the mainland so their children can attend school.
The primary school on Sherkin Island, off the Cork coast, was open when Ms O’Neill, a social worker, and her husband Sean, a native of Sherkin, who works in construction and is a parttime farmer, built their house there five years ago.
However, when the island school closed in summer 2016 after 124 years, the couple’s nightmare began — because both of them work full-time, they cannot find a way to get their children from Sherkin to school on the mainland and back every day.
Access to school for young children on Sherkin Island is a significant issue, according to island community worker Aisling Moran, who says the problem could eventually see Sherkin become little more than a “retirement island”.
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