On November 10, 2022, Ireland‘s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced funding of €115 million ($114.5 million USD) for 23 landmark rural regeneration projects across the country.
The projects are being funded as part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious 5 Year Policy for Rural Development.
The Minister made the announcement in Cappoquin, County Waterford, where funding of over €5 million is being provided to convert three derelict town centre buildings including a former hotel, pub and department store into residential accommodation.
The Cappoquin Regeneration Project will also the development of ‘over the shop’ living accommodation in the town centre as well as the renovation of three historic town houses on the main street.
Announcing the successful projects under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, Minister Humphreys said, “I am delighted to announce a record €115 million for the delivery of 23 landmark rural regeneration projects across the country. These projects will see long vacant, disused and derelict buildings in our rural towns given a new lease of life and purpose for the 21st century.”
“We are all familiar with historic old buildings in our local towns which have lay vacant for far too long. In many cases, these are old courthouses or churches of real historical significance and heritage value. These are iconic buildings in our town centres and I don’t want to see them lying idle, falling into disrepair or becoming dilapidated eyesores,” she explained.
“The funding I am announcing today will help redevelop these buildings and give them new purpose as community & cultural facilities, libraries, co-working hubs, enterprise and tourism hubs and of course like here in Cappoquin, they can even become new homes,” Humphreys added.
The 23 projects support a range of sectors and services, including town centre regeneration and residency, remote working, enterprise development, tourism development, remote learning, community development and repurposing of heritage buildings.
As well as Cappoquin, the other successful projects include:
- €5.2m for Charleville Town Centre Renewal, Co Cork: This project will see the renovation of a number of vacant and derelict buildings in the heart of the town. Charleville Courthouse will be renovated into a new remote working hub. A currently vacant heritage building on Chapel Street will be converted into a new Arts and Community Centre. In addition, an old HSE building in the town will be converted into the new home of the Men’s Shed and local Snooker Club.
- €4.27m for Athy, Co Kildare: The Old Model School & Grounds in Athy date back to the 1800s. This project will see this historic building converted into a State-of-the-Art Food, Drink and Skills Innovation Hub which will provide a dedicated space for enterprise development, job creation and training. A community Food Discovery Centre and Café will also be developed on site. The project will support food entrepreneurs/starts ups and drive job creation in the agri-food sector in the region.
- €3.5m for Kilrush, Co Clare: This is a joint project with Clare County Council and Enterprise Ireland to redevelop a vacant building on the marina in Kilrush into a new Maritime Training Centre. The Centre will provide a cutting edge research and training base for the offshore renewable energy sector, supporting job creation and economic development in the region.
- €4.59m for Ballinrobe, Co Mayo: This is a grassroots, community led project which will regenerate the former Valkenburg complex (built in 1820) in the town centre to provide a multi-purpose community facility, cultural and performance space. This will reinstate a key piece of community and cultural infrastructure back into use for the benefit of society and community in the heart of the town.
- €1.34m for Pilltown, Co Kilkenny: This project will redevelop an historic old stone Creamery building into a social enterprise and community space along with adjacent public realm works to revitalise the town centre.
- €11.9m for Cahir Town Centre Regeneration, Co Tipperary: The historic Market House (protected structure) will be renovated to include additional space for Cahir Enterprise Centre as well as co-working/hot desking facilities. The old Granary Building on Church Street will also be refurbished and renovated to become a new Town Library and Gallery.
- €1.45m for Durrow Community Enterprise Centre, Co Laois:
- This project will see the redevelopment of the former Methodist Chapel and Hall into an Enterprise Centre with co-working space as well as a cultural / gallery and exhibition space.
- €6.9m for Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan: This major project will redevelop and refurbish the derelict former Percy French hotel and site in the town centre to provide for a remote working hub and community facilities will act as a focal point for the economic, tourism and community regeneration of the town and its wider hinterland.
- €6.3m for Ramelton Re-imagined, Co Donegal: This project includes a wide range of elements including the development of a new Public Park, Children’s Play Area and Sensory Garden. A new pedestrianised public realm area at the Quays and the development of the Market Cross as a civic meeting space with public seating and sculpture.
- €3.8m for Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath: This project is focused on a number of inter-related town centre developments, including the refurbishment and extension of the Market House (a heritage building) for use as a community and tourism services hub and the creation of a large town park, stimulating activity directly in the town centre and strengthening the urban fabric of the town.
- €5.5m for Bandon, Co Cork: This is a major town centre regeneration project that will see the redevelopment of vacant buildings. This includes converting a former bank building into a community facility and the redevelopment of the old town library into a remote working facility.
- €14.39m for Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary: This very ambitious project will help revitalise Carrick-on-Suir, delivering an enterprise and digital hub, major public realm upgrades, an arrival point for the Suir Blueway, and an Amenity and Biodiversity Park, marking the town as a vibrant commercial centre and destination in its own right and enhancing its strategic location in the south-east region.
- €4.35m for Boyle, Co Roscommon: This project will build on existing large-scale Rural Regeneration and Development Fund investment in the town, on foot of Boyle 2040, and deliver a community library on a brownfield site in the town centre, creating a key landmark in the town centre and a new modern and innovative cultural and community space.
- €7.2m for Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim: This funding will underpin the purchase and re-development of the 112,611 sq. ft. former MBNA campus in Carrick-on-Shannon and the development of an enterprise campus at the site to contribute to growth in rural employment in the region.
Humphreys continued, “Other exciting projects being funded today will see the development of new Town Parks as well as Pedestrian Zones and Outdoor Dining Spaces. This will help to make out towns vibrant spaces for people to live and work in.”
“There are also a number of important projects which will help drive job creation in areas such as food innovation and offshore renewable energy,” he concluded.
The projects announced today are across two phases – the projects in Phase 1 can be commenced immediately. The projects in Phase 2 will be delivered based on a timeframe to be agreed with the Department of Rural & Community Development.
This timeframe will be linked to the level of progress achieved on the Phase 1 projects located in the county concerned and on existing projects already funded by the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in the relevant county.
Photo of downtown Cappoquin by Jonathan Billinger via Wikipedia.