Monaghan is a town of 7,500 people on Ireland’s border with Northern Ireland. The population grew 11% between 2006-2011, with the highest proportion in the 0-4 age bracket, followed by the 30-34 age bracket. It is one of five major towns in Monaghan County, along with Carrickmacross, Castleblayney, Clones and Ballybay. Monaghan is one of the country’s landlocked rural counties, characterised by rolling hills and wetlands—with less than 30% of its population living in the urban areas.
The local economy has a strong agricultural base, with the most important industries being in the areas of food processing, wood and metal products. Official forecasts indicate a significant drop in those employed in the construction and manufacturing sectors and a continued shift towards the services. During the recent boom years many young people left skilled and semi-skilled jobs to go and work in the construction sector due to the attractive salaries being offered. Many of them are now on the social welfare as all these jobs ceased with the collapse of the construction sector. Much of the manufacturing and agri-food production is based upon high volume and low margins and this is reflected by the fact that the county’s gross output per person is approximately one third of the national average.
The unspoilt landscape provides potential for tourism and initiatives are underway to promote the area as a destination for walking, biking and outdoor sports. It also hosts a major blues music festival every September.