We need to learn Italian when it comes to protecting our infrastructure, especially in our rural areas.
Take the plight of the rural post offices. Fewer customers. Fewer letters. Reduced revenue. It looks – to a Dublin-based auditor – like a no-brainer: shut up shop. So, let's learn Italian, and get a workable, radical and sustainable solution instead of shutting up shop.
The Italians won't construct a building until they have decided where the coffee bar will be and where the osteria should be located. In little Goleen, a tiny, pretty dot of a village on the Mizen peninsula in West Cork, the post office has for the last year or more shared its space with a sweet little café called Along The Way, run by Colm and Sarah Jane Moynihan. ALW produces cracking sandwiches, described on the blackboard behind the simple little counter, which also houses a series of petite ice cream troughs which have delicious ice creams.
There are about half a dozen well-spaced tables, and the food is just right for that time when you want tea and something sweet, for a little lift when you are out doing the post and collecting the children's allowance, or for something more substantial, like when you are touring the Wild Atlantic Way and have been driving since early morning through the bends and hills of West Cork. We had the Nordic pastrami, which comes on an intriguing Swedish-style flatbread, and is sweet with pepper relish. The Ploughman's comes in a good white roll, with whorls of ham and cheese and an apple relish. Add in Maher's coffee, Barry's tea, and some cute sweet baking – lemon drizzle; double chocolate muffin; colourful, slathery cupcakes. So, Along The Way shows the way for rural Ireland: every post office needs an excellent café with lovely things to eat. That's what the Italians would do, and that's what they do in Goleen.