Minister Ring brings #RuralOpportunity to Donegal

Friday, 12 April 2019

  • Event to highlight Government supports available to communities in rural Ireland
  • Information shared on how communities can access funding

Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, was today (Friday 12 April) joined by Government colleagues and members of rural communities from Donegal, Sligo and Mayo at a #RuralOpportunity event in Bluestack Hall, Drimarone, Co Donegal.

The event was focused on raising awareness of the wide variety of Government supports available to rural areas throughout the region. The event also provided advice on how to access Project Ireland 2040 funding for rural, or community, projects.

Minister Ring was joined at the event by Joe McHugh TD, Minister for Education and Skills and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development.

Groups from rural areas in Donegal, Sligo and Mayo, that have an interest in accessing Government supports, were invited to attend.

The audience heard from a number of individuals, from the region, about how funding has enabled them to deliver their successful projects:

  • Geraldine Horkan, Acting Chief Executive Westport Chamber of Commerce spoke about the Leeson Enterprise Centre in Westport and the support it has received from Mayo County Council, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development.
  • Pól McFadden, Chairperson of the Falcarragh Parish Development Association spoke about how the delivery of a new community centre was supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the LEADER programme.
  • Mick McEnroe, Secretary of the Strandhill Community Maritime Company told how they secured funding of over €1 million from Fáilte Ireland under its grant scheme for large tourism projects. They were also successful in securing funding of over €600,000 from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund under Project Ireland 2040

Speaking at the event, Minister Ring said that the case studies presented at the event are inspiring:

“Just listening to the people speak here today about how funding for rural projects is strengthening communities and building resilience has certainly inspired me. I hope that these stories will encourage others to apply for funding for their projects. Across Government we have made the supports available to assist projects that are sustainable and will make Ireland a better place for us all.”

Minister Ring continued:

“I think it is particularly appropriate that we are here in Donegal today for this event. Through Project Ireland 2040 we have an extremely ambitious plan for investment in Border regions and I want to take this opportunity today to reassure everyone that supporting communities in the border area is a priority for the Government.”

Minister McHugh said:

“I would like to congratulate Minister Ring on this wonderful initiative and also for all of his support for projects here in Donegal. Project Ireland 2040 is a major investment by the Government. We are doing this to make sure that as the population of the country grows we have balanced regional development and rural areas are attractive places for families to live. We have many skilled and talented people living in rural areas and in order to retain them we have to invest in rural infrastructure. These rural opportunity events show that we are prepared to do that.”

Minister Canney said:

“One of the key strategic outcomes for this Government is to have high-quality connectivity throughout the island. That means investing heavily in roads, rail ports and aviation. With these investments we can open up new opportunities for enterprise and tourism. As chairperson of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Task Force, the potential for the AEC region from Kerry to Donegal is huge and we have seen through some of the case studies presented here today that we have only just begun to unlock that potential.”

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Note for Editors:

Rural Opportunity themes

In particular, the themes which the campaign will cover include:

  • job creation/enterprise in rural communities, enabling people to work in rural Ireland;
  • improving the quality of life for those living and working in rural communities – reducing social isolation and improving social cohesion;
  • bringing more visitors into rural communities;
  • harnessing a vibrant culture within rural communities and improving the public realm; and
  • assisting a Gaeltacht community facing challenges which other rural communities face and thereby promoting the Irish language.


Background on case studies of projects featured at the Drimarone Rural Opportunity event

These events will hear from representatives of local rural communities who have successfully availed of supports and delivered a programme or project in their locality. These projects have made a positive impact in terms of community development and resilience, enterprise or job development, tourism development, etc.


Geraldine Horkan CE of Leeson Enterprise Centre

The Leeson Enterprise Centre provides a hub for innovation and business to help entrepreneurs and start-ups succeed in providing centrally located office space in Westport town and access to a range of business supports and agencies. The complex is a purpose built community enterprise centre. It is the result of a public-private partnership, and is overseen by the Westport Multi-Agency Enterprise Group. The Leeson Enterprise Centre provides competitively priced workspace with an array of services including a centralised reception, High Speed Broadband, training and mentoring. In addition offering flexible workspace and support services to encourage the establishment and development of early stage and developing enterprises. The centre will also provide a supportive and linkage environment to assist a business at any stage of development.


Pól McFadden Chairperson of the Falcarragh Parish Development Association

The Falcarragh Project involves the fitting out of a community centre with lighting, sound equipment, stage, kitchen facilities and sports equipment.  The project is currently being funded through the LEADER programme with a grant of €68,782. The reconstruction of the centre was itself funded through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Association now hosts bingo, keep fit classes, bowling and drama classes. The new kitchen facilities enabled them to provide food for 112 cyclists form the local club last weekend. The astro-turf pitch hosts the local GAA teams for training and is used by local schools.  The Falcarragh Development Association is a very pro-active group and are keen to acknowledge that they would not have been able to develop without the supports available to them.


Mick McEnroe, Secretary of the Strandhill Community Maritime

The project involves providing funding for a National Centre of Excellence for Surfing. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, Strandhill is one of Ireland’s popular surfing destinations. The centre will consist of a total over 500 sq. meters of space over two floors and 107 sq. meters of outdoor covered space. The centre will provide facilities for the surfing community of Strandhill and visitors who come for surfing or other tourist activities. Fáilte Ireland provided over €1m towards the build of the new centre, which was announced in October 2018. Funding contributed from the RRDF will ensure that the project is fully fitted out to state of the art standard. The centre will act as a national attraction as a tourism and information hub, provide an interpretative display of the history of surfing in Ireland, act as a central meeting point for local tourism businesses, provide changing, storage and shower facilities for local and visiting surfers and surf schools and cater for those providing advanced surfing training. Expected benefits include increased number of tourism visitors and spend to the region and increased employment.