Rural Ireland, thank you and we're sorry for not believing in you 11 months ago

Rural Ireland, thank you and we're sorry for not believing in you

Is it fair to say that not all but certainly more than a few of us on the Yes side are feeling a little sheepish this morning?

As ballot boxes open and the first tallies roll in from around Ireland, it's becoming clear that the exit polls were right and that Ireland wants the 8th Amendment repealed.

More than that, it's clear that they were right in that rural Ireland wants the 8th repealed - a result that if we're honest, many of us were unsure of.

Many of us city-dwellers were guilty of doubting that voters outside of the main cities and towns would support Yes.

We though we were on our own. We thought we'd have to do the heavy lifting. We thought at the very least that somewhere would pull a Roscommon and say No.

How happily, gloriously wrong we were.

Exit poll figures released by The Irish Times last night showed that, perhaps as expected, Dublin and Leinster said Yes.

But everywhere else said Yes too.

Sixty per cent of rural voters polled voted Yes to 40 per cent No. Sixty-six per cent of Munster said Yes and so did 59 per cent of those in Connaught and Ulster.

Similarly, RTÉ's exit poll showed a relatively small divide. Urban areas voted Yes by 72.3 per cent while rural voters did by 63.3 per cent.

Yes, young people went home to vote in our droves, from the cities and universities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and from much further afield, but that alone doesn't account for those huge numbers.

Many of us, myself included, felt there was a different atmosphere outside of the urban centres - there were a lot fewer badges and jumpers being worn down the country and a lot more reticence on the topic.

I know I worried that I'd been in a bubble and that we had taken a Yes vote for granted.

But it's clear that repeal is what people living in rural Ireland want.

Even adamant No voter Michael Healy-Rae, the media's favourite 'voice of rural Ireland' (whether rural Ireland likes it or not) was unusually measured this morning, knowing he couldn't argue, as he often does, that people outside of Dublin wanted something different.

"We live in a democracy," he told RTÉ as he reacted to the polls suggesting a landslide nationwide Yes.

"People voted the way they did, now it's over to the legislators. We'll have to see what they bring forward, but the people have spoken."

As we celebrate a Yes result today, we should think of the people living outside our cities and big towns who refused to fulfil the expectation that certainly the No side and many on the Yes side had.

Rural Ireland, we're sorry and we'll never doubt you again.