Minister Ring hosts “Rural Opportunity” roadshow in Longford

Minister Ring hosts “Rural Opportunity” roadshow in LongfordPublished 27 March 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, has today (Wednesday 27 March) hosted a “Rural Opportunity” briefing session in Granard Library, Co. Longford.

This was the second in a series of events intended to raise awareness of the wide variety of Government supports available to rural communities. The briefings also provide an update on how to access Project Ireland 2040 funding for rural, or community, projects.

In Granard today, Minister Ring was joined by Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and Seán Kyne TD, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.

The event was attended by community groups from rural areas with an interest in accessing Government supports.

Attendees heard from a number of individuals about how funding has enabled them to deliver their successful projects:

  • Paul Flood, Secretary of the Granard Motte, told how a site was acquired and a heritage centre built with assistance from the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) scheme, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and supports provided by Fáilte Ireland. This has created employment and developed visitor amenities.
  • Una Fannon, told attendees about An Chistin in Castlerea, which received assistance from Roscommon County Council, the Local Enterprise Office and further funding through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.  An Chistin helps to address skills shortages in the hospitality area and builds upon the significant level of entrepreneurship in the sector.
  • Pat Murtagh from Roscommon County Council also spoke about the Boyle 2040 project which is being supported by the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. This is enabling Boyle to deliver a number of projects including and enterprise centre, an exhibition space and to further develop the area as an attractive tourist destination.

Minister Ring said that the case studies presented at the events will provide encouragement to other rural communities:

“I am delighted to be in Longford to meet with all of these inspirational people and to hear how they have been able to access the funding available from across Government. I hope that their stories can help inspire those who see them to act in their own communities.”

“Today in Granard we are providing information and advice to anyone that has an idea but is unsure how to access the funding available. I want to see more applications for projects as wonderful as the ones we have heard from today.”

“This #RuralOpportunity event illustrates how the Government is committed to supporting enterprise and job creation, tourism, culture, community and the Irish language. We are committed to supporting a vibrant and resilient rural Ireland – a place where people will want to live and work – and we are doing that through funding and in partnership with local people.”

Minister Murphy said:

“I hope that these events will encourage others to be proactive when it comes to seeking support for any rural, or urban, project. Being here today gives me an opportunity to hear first-hand how targeted funding can make a positive difference to communities throughout Ireland.

The Government is committed to supporting enterprise and job creation, tourism, culture, community and the Irish language in rural areas. We are creating a vibrant rural Ireland – a place where people want to live and work. This is in keeping with the vision of Project Ireland 2040 which will drive Ireland’s long term economic progress over the next two decades.”

 Minister Kyne said:

“It is vitally important that communities remain strong and continue to provide opportunities for people to be successful in rural areas. By promoting development in all regions of the country we can bring new life back into towns and villages previously neglected. The support available through Government is enabling local people to create sustainable and resilient communities.”

Two further “Rural Opportunity” events are planned for Corofin, Co. Clare on Wednesday 10 April and Donegal Town on Friday 12 April.

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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 Granard 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.

The Knights & Conquests Heritage Centre

The Granard Motte Committee, which oversees Granard Motte Community Enterprises Ltd., a community-run social enterprise which was formed to try and build on the potential of Granard Motte, a national monument located on the outskirts of the town.  Following the publication of a report in 2011 which identified the decline occurring in the town and the potential for the town to re-invent itself as a destination given its assets, such as the motte, the community in Granard took up the challenge.  Following consultation and the establishment of a committee, an area near the motte was identified for the location of a visitor centre.  Fundraising was undertaken and the site was acquired and a heritage centre built with assistance from the REDZ scheme, operated by the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and supports provided by Fáilte Ireland.  The Knights & Conquests Heritage Centre opened in September 2018.

The Granard committee, in conjunction with Longford County Council, has since secured funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund of €2.8m towards the development of the Heritage Park at the motte to create a flagship tourism project in the area.  An interpretive centre and heritage park will be built which will include a living Norman village and amenity and recreation park.

​An Chistin Food Hub                                                                                                                   

An Chistin Food Hub is a multi-faceted food innovation centre providing state of the art training and community kitchen facilities offering food courses at all levels in association with Galway Roscommon Educational and Training Board.  Phase I of An Chistin, the training and community kitchen, was completed in 2017 with the assistance of Roscommon County Council and the REDZ Programme, operated by the Department of Rural and Community Development.  Phase II of the centre will be complete shortly and will deliver three new food innovation units for the use of entrepreneurs in the sector.  Phase II of the centre has just received over €1.5m in funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund for 10 further incubation units for delivery over the next year.

The project sets out to re-invigorate a large rural area which has suffered from significant challenges in recent years, including slow economic growth and outward migration and will help address skills shortages in the hospitality area and build upon the significant level of entrepreneurship in the sector.

Boyle 2040

Boyle 2040, a comprehensive framework for the social and economic regeneration of Boyle, was developed by a partnership comprised of Roscommon County Council, Boyle Chamber of Commerce and Boyle Town Team.  The Town Team is an alliance of business and community organisations, made up of representatives from tidy towns, local retailers and employers, youth organisations, tourism and arts groups and the Men’s Shed.

Following evidence that Boyle has to date failed to realise its tourism potential and that there has been a trend in recent years for leaving the town centre for low cost housing on the outskirts of the town, contributing to a very sharp decline in footfall within the town, the Boyle 2040 framework was developed in October 2018 to address this.

Also in October, Boyle was chosen as one of 6 pilot towns around the country to benefit from Town and Village Renewal Funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development to identify plans to encourage more people to opt to live in town centres in rural Ireland.

The Boyle 2040 team was also recently successful in securing funding of €1.7m from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund for major town regeneration works, including the refurbishment and conversion of the derelict Royal Hotel in Boyle to deliver an enterprise centre, exhibition space, information point and coffee dock; the creation of a new riverside promenade with canoe dock which will link the town centre, along the river, to key tourism attractions such as King House and Boyle Abbey; and the development of a new Civic space with acoustic shell, behind the Royal Hotel and adjacent to the new promenade.

Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ)

One of the most innovative ideas that emerged from the CEDRA process was the idea of Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ). Defined as sub county zones within which most people live and work, REDZ are functional rather than administrative geographic areas that reflect the spatial patterns of local economic activities and development processes. The pilot scheme was launched in June 2015 and €3.7m in total was allocated to 52 projects. The section is currently assimilating the information from these projects with a view to applying the learning to any future REDZ type initiatives.