On November 6, Michael Ring TD, Ireland‘s Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced that 26 revitalization projects that will be allocated €62 million under the second call for funding of the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, a key component of Project Ireland 2040.
The announcement took place in the Dunbrody Visitor Centre in New Ross, County Wexford. The allocated funding of €62 million will be leveraged with a further €33 million in matched funding being provided by State-funded bodies, philanthropic sources and rural communities. This represents a total investment of €95 million in projects across every region which, in the years ahead, will deliver significant benefits for those living and working in rural towns and villages
Under Project Ireland 2040, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development, will provide €1 billion in investment over 10 years to support the renewal of small towns, villages and outlying rural areas. Initial funding of €315 million is being allocated on a phased basis over the period 2019 to 2022. So far the Fund has provided €148 million for 110 projects across Ireland, worth a total of €212 million.
This announcement relates to Category 1 of the Fund which focuses on strategic, large-scale projects which are ready to commence and which are focused on the regeneration of rural towns and villages. The 26 projects being announced today deliver on that objective in a variety of different ways.
Speaking at the event, Minister Ring said, “I am delighted to announce the successful projects from the second call for funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. The Fund was established under Project Ireland 2040 to deliver the targeted investment necessary to ensure that rural Ireland continues to grow and prosper and deliver on the balanced regional growth that is in everyone’s interests.”
“Following this announcement, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will have delivered investment totalling €148 million for 110 projects across Ireland, worth a total of €212 million. This funding announced under the first call to the Fund is already transforming rural communities and after today, every county in the country will be benefitting from the investment provided by the Fund,” he added.
The successful applications for funding announced include:
- The development of Wexfordia, a large scale regeneration and tourism project in the centre of New Ross that will enhance the town’s visitor potential through investment in key tourism assets including the Dunbrody Famine Ship & Irish Emigrant Experience and the town’s rich Norman heritage;
- The delivery of Virginia Civic Centre, an ambitious and transformative town regeneration project in the centre of Virginia, Co. Cavan, involving the creation of a new public library, additional theatre space and multipurpose civic event facilities, both inside the Centre and in its grounds;
- The development of a 46km stretch of the Barrow Blueway, located along the Grand Canal Barrow Line from Lowtown to Athy in Co. Kildare, taking in Vicarstown in Co. Laois. The Blueway will be an exciting recreational resource for local communities and for visitors to the areas, with the potential to deliver significant tourism and economic benefits while also securing the natural amenities and ecosystem which the canal provides;
- The restoration and upgrade of the Briery Gap Theatre and public library in the centre of Macroom, a valued cultural and artistic asset for the town and the wide hinterland which depends on it;
- The Killybegs 2040 Town Regeneration Project a town centre regeneration project involving the redevelopment of an existing building to house a Tourism Information Centre and Digital Hub, with associated civic space, that will help enhance the physical, social and economic capacity of Killybegs;
- The delivery of a suite of transformative regeneration measures in the town centre of Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim with the objectives of enhancing the quality of the existing streetscapes in the historic town centre and strengthening the town’s physical and commercial infrastructure, making it a more attractive place to work, live and do business;
- The provision of a major tourism hub in Eachléim on the Erris Peninsula in the North Mayo Gaeltacht which will act as an orientation point for visitors to learn about the cultural and natural heritage attractions in the area, including Blacksod Lighthouse, and to provide tourism incubation space and support the development of craft enterprises.
Minister Ring explained, “I believe that it is vital that we continue to build resilience in rural communities and make our towns and villages vibrant places for families to live. The projects that this Fund supports are targeting areas where they can have the greatest economic and social impact and will help support communities in facing the uncertainty still posed by Brexit.”
He concluded, “Today’s announcement represents the completion of the second call for funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. We have had a phenomenal level of interest, with applications of an excellent standard, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who were successful. For those who have been unsuccessful, my Department will provide feedback to enable them to prepare for the next call for Category 1 proposals in 2020. I expect to be in a position to announce a call for Category 2 applications under the Fund, to assist further project development work around the country, before the end of the year.”