Townscape focuses on a diversity of home settings in a single midlands town as a way of accessing the relationship between home space (private) and town space (public) and as a means of exploring the experience of and orientation toward place in everyday life. The project brings sociology, the community and the arts into collaborative practice. This kind of cross-disciplinary work is both experimental and innovative, and creates an important bridge to wider publics who are interested in the arts, representation, place, identity and belonging in twenty-first century Ireland. Townscape revisits the local through the lens of place and place narratives, paying attention to the sentiments and experience of those who live in Stradbally, Co.Laois, a town of 1350 people, overwhelmingly of Irish nationality.1 The meaning of place has long exercised the minds of geographers, philosophers and sociologists. The German philosopher Heidegger (1978) saw dwelling as the essence of being, offering the individual respite and refuge. Place in this sense of a locus of being, however, is directly threatened by wider forces such as globalisation and neo-liberalism. Fixity, belongingness and attachment are viewed as increasingly anachronistic in our globalised world. Relph, for example, has argued that the potential for people to develop a sense of place in technologically advanced cultures “has been undermined by the possibility of increased spatial mobility and by a weakening of the symbolic qualities of places’ (Relph, 1976, p. 66). Others have advanced the notion that society and economy are no longer organised around local relations. As a result, identity formation may be more likely to take place through virtual networks generated across multiple digital platforms. Yet, it is also argued that precisely because of the homogenising and atomising effects of globalisation and digitisation we need now more than ever a notion of ‘place’ as stable, secure and unique. In fact, some analysts have suggested that place has become ever more important as an identity-marker. Vaiou and Lykogianni (2006) contend that increasingly concepts such as sense of place and locality are useful as a counterbalance to the dislocation, fragmentation and disorientation so often associated with contemporary life. In a similar vein, Gieryn muses that: “in spite of the jet, the ‘net and the fast food outlet, place persists as a constituent element of social life and historical change” (2000, p. 463). 47 Talking Townscape: Place attachment and community sentiment in Stradbally, Co.Laois Mary P. Corcoran ‘‘Home is where you start out into the world from; you are never truly completely there, and you never leave” Theo Dorgan, Back to the House my Father built, Irish Times, Dec 30, 2017. 1. This essay is based on interviews carried out with the twelve participating householders in the Townscape project during 2016, to whom I am very grateful. Three of the interviews were carried out by Dr. Patricia Healy Kettle, the remaining nine were carried out by the author.