Society, in the Past, in the Present and in the Future. #9 #cong20


Society is complex and is made up of various personalities.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. We need to learn from the past.
  2. We need to be open to developing.
  3. We need to look forward to the future with positivity and hope.
  4. We have little control of what goes on around us. However, we have control of ourselves to take care of our society.

About Gerard Costello

I am a Community Alert Development Officer for Muintir na Tire, advising and supporting Community Alert Groups in the Western Region of Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Longford. I went back to collage as a Mature Student and studied Community and Family Studies for four years.
I am involved in various community committees.

Contacting Gerard Costello:

 You can contact Gerard by email.

By Gerard Costello.

Society, in the past, in the present and in the future. What have we learned? what are we learning? what can we learn for society?

‘Society’ has a lot of interesting angles, definitions and examples with a wide varied implication to people. The word society prompted me to look up various sites for their definition of the word Society to see what the written thinking was before putting my thoughts and learning about it on paper. The following are some of the various answers.

‘A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions;

‘Society, the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community’.

‘It is said society is made up of the community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations’.

‘Society can be the totality of social relationships among organized groups of human beings or animals’.

‘Society is a system of human organizations generating distinctive cultural patterns and institutions and usually providing protection, security, continuity, and a national identity for its members’. However, the one I like best is.

‘Society: The totality of people regarded as forming a community of interdependent individuals working for the benefit of society’.

My analysis from the above definitions of Society relates to, a group of people, their interaction, subjected to the same governing authority and cultural expectations within a community working for the benefit of society. However, this year 2020 has created some change to Society showing us how vulnerable we all are and how quick we are to change. I think we need to look back to see where we have come from in society to appreciate what we have today and work safely on developing a more balanced healthy society into the future. Each day of our lives we enter an unknown arena which we have to move around in, to entertain and to be entertained within.

When I think of the word society and where we have come from reminds me of a life experience. This is a synopsis I have around society and changes which I remind myself of when having a bad day. On a fine summers morning in the year 2015, I stood in front of a replica of ancient Ireland. This replica, related to where people lived long ago in places called Crannogs. On my visit to the model site of ancient Ireland I stopped in the warmth of the early morning sunlight and gazed at the images developed in this village setting. As I rested I could hear the birds singing, the sun was shining on my back. I was after driving to this tourist attraction from the hotel I was staying in when on holidays with my family in the South of Ireland. I was after a full Irish breakfast. I had gone for a relaxing dip in the hotel pool, sat for a while in the steam room and relaxed in the Jacuzzi. It was early August and day four of a six-day break away from home and work in the West of Ireland. My life in society year 2015.

I watched the images and the surroundings and realised what I was looking at depicted what would have been the way of life for my Great – Grand Parents and what Society and the environment was for them and others at some stage. Their homes were Crannogs made of sticks, clay and vegetation. Heated with the flames of burning timber in an open fire. No windows. No solid door, just a flap. No running water. No electricity, Very little clothes.

I have told people about my experience of this model site and my family connection to that society and said to people, your family came from the same environment. Some people agreed with me and others have said no, their family had a two story house. They may be correct, who am I to judge. But, if we go far enough back in time I may be correct to say that our ancestors came from a life where they lived as part of a society in a Crannog.

These Crannog homes were simple and home to families. What I saw in that image before me was, simplicity with very little comforts. However, the questions I ask is, did everybody live in a Crannog during that age? and was life as simple as I could see? had these people no comfort. Was society like this for everybody back then? Was the simplicity of life a good or bad experience? Has society really changed and will society change in the future?

As the nation has aged, the elements that bind society together have multiplied and grown strong.’ Well, when I gaze around today we have come a long way in this society from the Crannogs. We have access to everything, to houses with everything in them, from windows, doors, electricity, heating etc. Or have we everything in society? Can we change much more? However, have we grown strong with age to much when you stop and think what Covid 19 is doing to society? Can we do anything to improve. Personally what I have in society today is in abundance compared to my ancestors. However, I fear losing what I have due to, viruses, crime and lack of development leadership.

We have become a society of blamers, demanders and whingers living a franticly stressful life. The way society is managing life is causing it to move at a rapid and stressful pace. Technology for one is advancing at such a fast rate that the mind can’t keep up with it and the body is breaking down under the pressures of modernisation. Society is leaving technology to do the think, resulting in a loss of neighbourliness and the loss of community spirit. Society needs to balance the use of technology and the personal connection in order to have a better one. We have no one else to blame, but ourselves.

Sometimes we lose sight of our purpose in life and our road map. Having a good society with balanced leadership, a purpose, aims and solutions can help people achieve goals. Goals only come about with aims and actions. As a society are we stopping and thinking or thinking and stopping. Sometimes achievement not the person, defines what we are and who we are in Society. I say this on the old fashioned statement of society, she is a Doctor, he is a Solicitor verses she is only or he is only. We are all members of society and we are all needed to help keep the wheel of progress turning.

What others want from society in the future I have no control over. However, being a member of society I do not expect perfection in products and services, but I expect that leaders, corporations and people will always act responsibly. It is said, there are three ways of doing something. 1. Your way. 2. My way. 3. The right way and more recently there is a fourth way which is, don’t do anything. Society can’t stand still and just do nothing. Society hinges on and has hinged on the first three and without a balanced measure of mutual respect there can be no ordered lawful society.’

For me, learning in the future is a must for society to progress in unity: From experience of becoming a mature student in my late forties and having never gone to collage until them I have to say instructed learning is required at all levels of society to be able to progress for the good of all. However, time, support and encouragement needs to be given to those who find it difficult to learn as not everyone can achieve straight A’s. We need to question ourselves? ‘Where do we draw the line between individual freedom and good order in society?’ We need to learn from the past. We need to be open to developing. We need to look forward to the future with positivity and hope. In relation to the crises Ireland as a nation is going through with Covid 19 the primary focus of learning and aid must be to rebuild the elements that hold society together.

A quote I came across, ‘If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are ‘the father, the mother and the teacher’. This is very apt when it comes to learning within society. We need the three teachers to play a part in our development. When it comes to the actions of society towards development as another quote refers. ‘The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish’. This has become a problem in some communities mainly because of the lack of proper leadership.

Fear, life commitments and financial demands are some factors which drains the availability of volunteers to help develop society and this is a concern which needs to be addressed especially in rural Ireland. Interestingly the next quote worries me, ‘A person who cannot live in society, or does not need to because he is self-sufficient, is either a beast or a god’. Humans must have laws and must enforce those laws in order to maintain order in society.’ We make compromises with individual integrity in order to allow society to function. However, the problem is some people have little or no respect for themselves or others.

To conclude, after reading some of the definitions of society it was very thought-provoking. It is said that to go forward sometimes one must look back. In order for society to advance, people need to look back to some of the golden ages in the past and learn from the actions which took society to where we are today. Highlighting problems is necessary in order to encourage change. Society is in danger of sleep walking into a new arena without looking back at where we have come from, creating targets for the future and taking on aims so as to achieve goals for the good of society. Learning is needed by all and basics relevant to each stage of our lives needs to be thought to us as Children as Adults and as Older People. However, to much information is a problem to society, causing confusion and frustration.

Societies judgement of a person by wealth – image puts great pressure on those who struggle to make ends meet. Society is complex and is made up of various personalities. As a member of today’s society I have to embrace the environment which we are given and live as safely as possible. My wish is to work to achieve what I need, without offending or harming others in the process while also helping others on my life journey in today’s Irish society. We have little control of what goes on around us. However, we have control of ourselves to take care of our society.

When a business becomes everybody’s business it soon becomes nobody’s business. This too me is the evolving structure of society and without the support of formal leadership and governance, society is going to become wild and out of control. The onus is on government, institutions and society to work together for a just and equitable social order. We are not given many opportunities to discuss or give inputs into the way society is and could develop. However, thanks to CongRegation for the insight to provide the opportunity for members of society to discuss, engage and learn. I look forward to CongRegation 2020, the findings and feelings others have about society.

Leadership, Dependency and Governance #55 #cong19


Coming soon

Key Takeaways:

  1. Coming soon

About Gerard Costello::

My name is Gerard Costello from a farming and business background in the rural village of Monivea in Co. Galway. I have experience in volunteering on various projects in my community for over 20 years. I worked in the sales and manufacturing industry for over 20 years as a designer of fitted furniture. As a mature student I achieved a B.A. in Community and Family Studies in N.U.I.G and now work as a Community Alert Development Officer in the Western Region for Muintir na Tire.

Contacting Gerard Costello:

You can see Gerard’s work on Muintir na Tíre

By Gerard Costello

When I read the request from Congregation, ‘we want to hear how people see, experience or what they think of “Community”, be it a personal one, business or career transition’.  I have to ask, in what Text is the word Community been talked about. I looked at the word in relation to the work I’m involved in which is, the Development of Community Alert. I looked at the word Community from my community experiences. As part of this mind mesh of thinking sharing and connecting I draw on the history and experience of Muintir na Tire and I still haven’t found the quick fix when it comes to Community. On hearing a statement, words have different meanings so much so they were the breakup of a person’s marriage, this has resulted in me questioning and defining words a lot more. When it comes to Community I still question, try to define and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for when it comes to an easy way to establish and foster Community within society.

My perspectives on community comes from my experience as a volunteer on a Community Alert Programme for over 20 years along with volunteering on other community projects. My learning about people, educating around committee roles, devising to move forward, inclusion as part of equality, leadership and guiding in partnership with others is very rewarding.  As a Community Alert Development Officer for Muintir na Tire supporting and advising groups for the past six months has highlighted the various Community structures, opinions and Community needs relating to the same programme.

The word Community can be used in a lot of different equations which sometimes leads to confusion, or is it just me? The word Community has a lot of meanings to people within societies. What type of Community do we create and what type of Community do we foster? An example I always take when it comes to confusion with the word community in relation to health is used in the medical profession when it says, providing services in the community. However, when one looks for services in the rural community they may find services in theory but not in the practical. I know the theme is taking its broadest form from psychology, technology, personal experience to methodologies and ideas. However, each one has a different purpose and requires a different perspective of Community. The word Community needs to be defined and explained to be able to create and foster Community with a balanced outcome.

To build Communities, leadership is required and where good leadership exists a good community is to be found. However, Leadership is lost by way of the reduction in Priests and Gardaí. This for Communities is a problem which needs to be addressed to be able to sustain Communities. When a business becomes everybody’s business it soon becomes nobody’s business. However, a Community needs to become somebody’s business and then everybody’s business to help sustain the business. People like to be part of the Community and some people like to be asked to get involved as a volunteer, others will not get involved but may contribute in other ways and some just don’t care. Therefore, to build and sustain Communities, support in both administration and financial methods are needed with good leadership. Moreover, just because a minority or the majority don’t get involved in the Community those who can and do get involved should look at the advantages they achieve from being involved in their Community. They say you get a 100% from volunteering, a statement I agree with and have proven for myself in my community, am I the only one?


It is said society is more enriched and it is said that People are becoming Self Sufficient. Can this have an impact personally or on community? at the end of the day, we depend on family but we are dependent on agencies. Do we think of others in the community? When I look at photos from Antisocial Behavior on Halloween Night I ask the questions where does Community come into play within this society. Why did human people do this to other people? What should happen following these events? Who should do something about these events or should anything happen within the Community. But what if it happens next in your or my neighborhood. Then I think about our Public Health Service another part of our Community and I ask the question. Why is there people sleeping or not been able to sleep on trollies, on floors, in corridors in hospital, a condition one would not do in their own home even when not sick. Is this right or wrong?  Where does this fit into a Community?

Change can be difficult for people, especially for people who have volunteered for years and suddenly policies, insurance, governance and laws are pushed on them for a role they would have carried out voluntary for years with a heart and a half. These people are made feel like criminals leading to dis-connection within their Community the greatest problem facing communities. We are all experts in some walk of life. Still, no one knows everything.  We need Compliance, Rules and Structure but a community volunteers should not have to be made fear these.  At the end of the day there is a clear need for a multi-agency, community voluntary and employed representatives with various parties sitting around a table to determine the best approach for each community throughout the country both rural and urban. This is where Congregation I hope can play its part with defining Community and finding what I’m looking for!!!.

About Muintir na Tíre

Muintir na Tíre, (The People of the Land) the national organisation promoting community development in Ireland, was established in 1937 by John M Canon Hayes, the first unit of which was launched in Tipperary town in November of that year. This was the beginning of Canon Hayes’ rural community idea which was to develop and expand into a comprehensive movement designed to raise the standard of living of people in all aspects of Irish rural life. The emphasis was on local improvement – social, economic, cultural and recreational – based on the participation of people themselves in the promotion of the welfare of their community.

Through its core principles of neighbourliness, self-help and self-reliance, Muintir na Tíre has promoted and supported the concept of active community participation and championed the idea of community development in both Ireland and Europe. From the early 60′s the organisation adopted the United Nations definition of the Community Development process, which states that it is “a process designed to create conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with the fullest possible reliance upon the communities own initiative”. This definition reflects Muintir na Tíre’s approach to this process which is based around “the whole community” as a unit of organisation through which social, economic, cultural and environmental development can take place. Not just how to live more effectively in their own parish, but more especially how to care for their neighbours and share their common lot and heritage.

The 1st major project Muintir na Tire undertook was the promotion of the Rural Electrification scheme. Electricity came to Ireland in 1929 on a national scale through what was known as the Shannon Scheme. The supply was restricted to towns and villages of over 250 inhabitants. For 20 years nothing was done to change this situation. By 1947 only 2% of those living outside towns and villages were served by the National Network. However, the Government begun planning to implement the scheme to bring electricity to rural Ireland. Moreover, the idea of electricity was viewed with suspicion and in some cases outright hostility. To get the scheme going the ESB used Parish Councils to excite local interest in the scheme and help with canvassing for a change to the face and pace of Rural Ireland.  Instead of waiting for some all-powerful government to give hand-outs to the people, Muintir asked the people to make their own decisions and try things out for themselves. This was achieved by a two side approach 1. Doing things for themselves and 2. Learning to get things done.

The Muintir na Tire organisation has pioneered many innovative and worthwhile projects which are now self-sufficient or administered by statutory agencies. Important amongst these were the Community Information Centres (now known as Citizen Information Centres), the establishment of Bord Fáilte’s Tidy Towns Competition, Group Water Schemes for rural areas, the provision of Community Halls and Centres, establishing small and medium size enterprises, the ongoing training of members of Muintir Councils and the community crime prevention programme, Community Alert.

In 1984 The Community Alert programme was established in response to an increase in rural crime and is managed as a partnership by Muintir na Tíre and the Garda Síochána. It is a community-based crime prevention, care and safety programme for rural communities. It has a particular emphasis on older and more vulnerable people in rural communities. The programme aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities through: Reducing opportunities for crimes to occur. Encouraging neighbourliness and self-reliance. Promoting accident prevention and personal safety. The Community Alert programme operates through a network of community alert groups, each of which is responsible for a particular area.

In more recent years Muintir na Tire became involved with Community Text Alert which is an Initiative to facilitate immediate communication from the Garda Síochána to the public. The Garda Síochána provide information by text or e-mail to each registered community contact and they, in turn forward the information by text or e-mail to all members of their Community Group.