Taoiseach and Minister Ring announce first successful applicants under €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Fund will help transform rural communities over next ten years

Published 23 November 2018

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD have today (Friday) announced the first successful applicants under the Government’s €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which aims to breathe new life into Ireland’s smaller towns and villages.

At a special event in Sligo the Taoiseach, Minister Ring and Minister of State, Sean Canney TD outlined the scale and ambition of the fund. In total some €1 billion in funding will be allocated over the next 10 years for rural communities with a population of fewer than 10,000, as part of the Project Ireland 2040 plan to redevelop Ireland.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund aims to rejuvenate smaller towns, villages and rural areas, generate job opportunities in rural areas, and help communities to improve their quality of life.  More than 290 projects applied for this first stage, with the focus in this round on heritage and tourism, infrastructural improvement, economic development, and rural regeneration.

Some of the successful projects announced at today’s event include:

  • Conversion of prominent heritage building in Kinsale, Co Cork into a local public library
  • A new National Centre of Excellence for Surfing in Strandhill, Co Sligo
  • Converting the Valentia Island Trans-Atlantic Cable Station in Co Kerry into a museum and business innovation hub
  • Restoration of the 800 metre Borris Railway viaduct in Co Carlow – linking the town to local walkways
  • Restoration of Swan Park in Buncrana, Donegal following its devastation by flooding last year

See the video about the announcement here:

Today’s announcement focuses on 18 projects to be supported in 2019, totalling €24.4 million. €55 million in total has been allocated to the Fund for 2019 and further announcements of projects to be funded in 2019 will follow shortly. A detailed list of the successful projects announced today is provided below.

Over 290 applications for funding were received from a wide variety of state funded bodies in 2019. Over the next four years, €315 million will be invested in rural communities through the Fund.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD said: “In May, I was joined by Ministerial colleagues to launch four game-changing funds under Project Ireland 2040, with a total investment of €4 billion.  Together these funds represent a new and innovative approach to investment and capital spending in Ireland.

These Funds are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners, so if you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference.

“The €1 billion Rural Fund will enable towns, villages and outlying rural areas to grow sustainably. It’s all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay, move into or run a business. Today, as we announce the first round of funding under the Rural Fund, I am struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted.  Projects involving heritage, regeneration and the public realm, greenways, telecommunications, tourism, environment, enterprise, and public transport. Some, however, stood out from the pack and they are the ones being awarded today.  They are projects that have significant potential to improve rural Ireland and to do so quickly; these projects will hit the ground running and I look forward to seeing the results.”

Commenting on today’s funding allocation, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, said: “The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will provide the impetus for the transformation of hundreds of rural towns and villages over the next ten years. By 2040, our population will have increased by 1 million. Half of that population growth will take place in rural Ireland. Rural Ireland is integral to the future development of our country and this Fund will facilitate rural growth and prosperity and will strengthen rural communities.

“I am delighted that my Department has received 290 submissions from across the country. The funding support announced today for different types of projects will be transformative for the communities concerned.

“I am looking forward to seeing the difference this funding will make on the ground throughout rural Ireland.  I believe that this Fund will continue to achieve even more for rural renewal over its lifetime through a pipeline of ambitious projects. Today’s announcement is just the start and I will make further announcements of successful projects early in 2019.”


A detailed list of the successful projects announced today is provided below:


First announcement of successful projects for funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (Category 1)
Project Title Location County Lead Applicant Summary RRDF Funding

The Yeats Trail


Yeats Trail




Sligo County Council


Will construct the “Yeats Trail”, which will be a cultural heritage trail along 15 locations associated with W. B. Yeats in Co. Sligo.


Will include 90 new signs, 15 interpretation boards, new seating, a dedicated Website and App.


Will make a significant contribution to tourism in the region.




gteic Hubs


Béal a’ Mhuirthead




Údarás na Gaeltachta


Will provide 8 Enterprise/Digital Hubs at 6 locations in Co. Mayo. Part of the gteic Gréasán Digiteach na Gaeltachta project.

They will provide business clusters focusing on Sports, the Marine, the Creative industries, and the Irish Language.

Will provide enterprise development and community development in these locations.




gteic Hub An Spidéal


An Spidéal




Údarás na Gaeltachta


Will provide an Enterprise Hub in An Spidéal.


Will be dedicated to enterprises working in the Creative and Digital Media sectors.

Will contribute to enterprise and employment creation.




Emo Court


Emo, Emo Court




Office of Public Works


Will provide a major upgrade of the Emo Court Estate, which will celebrate 25 years in public ownership in 2019. This is a Gandon-designed house which was the seat of the Earls of Portarlington.

Will include the opening of two extra floors to the public, an event and exhibition space, and enhancements to the grounds.

Will provide a “must-see” tourist attraction for the region.




Swan Park


Swan Park, Buncrana




Donegal County Council


Will restore Swan Park which has been closed following a flood in 2017.

Swan Park was previously a major tourist attraction in the town of Buncrana.

Will contribute to tourism and economic development in the region.




Great Southern Greenway Limerick


Abbeyfeale, Newcastlewest, Rathkeale, Ardagh




Limerick City and County Council


Will improve the Great Southern Greenway Limerick.


Will involve converting the old railway into a greenway, building a new tunnel at Barnagh, and a new junction at Rathkeale.


Will improve the quality of life for local residents, improve access and enhance local environment.




Cootehill Industrial Estate






Cavan County Council


Will open up an underdeveloped Industrial Estate in Cootehill for future expansion.

Will involve the construction of a new roadway and provision of services.

Will contribute to economic regeneration and job creation on the border between counties Cavan and Monaghan.




Glenbrohane Local Hub






Ballyhoura Development CLG


Will re-develop an old building into a Social Enterprise Hub.

Will include a new café, shop for local crafts and produce, a “Men’s Shed”, and community facilities.

Will provide local employment opportunities and contribute to rural regeneration, and address the issue of rural isolation.




Ennistymon Innovation Centre






Clare County Council


Will create a “Multi-Service Innovation Centre” by converting an old building.

Will include an Enterprise Hub with business broadband, a family resource centre and community amenities.

Will contribute to employment creation and local regeneration.




gteic Gaoth Dobhair


Gaoth Dobhair




Udaras na Gaeltachta


Will expand the existing Gaoth Dobhair Business Park.

Will provide an extra 1,725 sq.m of modern office space for setting up businesses on the second floor of the building.

Will support enterprise regeneration and local employment.




Kinsale Library Project






Cork County Council


Will relocate the existing Kinsale Library to a heritage building.

Will restore an existing building owned by Cork County Council, which will provide a much larger library facility for the local community.

Will support the regeneration of the local area.




National Centre of Excellent for Surfing






Sligo County Council


Will enhance the National Centre of Excellence for Surfing.


Will provide funding to fully fit out the facility to international standards.


Will enhance economic regeneration, contribute to employment opportunities, and provide a significant tourist attraction.




Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable Station


Valentia Island




Kerry County Council


Will restore the Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable Station.

Will create a museum and visitor experience on the history of the trans-Atlantic cable.


Will also include an Innovation Hub.

Will support tourism in the region and employment creation. It is being considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.




Borris Railway Viaduct






Carlow County Council

Will link the Borris Railway Viaduct to amenities in Borris town.

Will improve access and local amenities, and re-surfacing the viaduct for use as a walk and cycleway.

Will provide a tourist attraction for the area.




Callan Town Regeneration


Callan Town




Kilkenny County Council

Will significantly contribute to the regeneration of Callan Town.


Will include the creation of a 1.6Km road and footpath, linking original heritage sites and local amenities. Will include the upgrade of Fair Green Park.

Will support rural regeneration and community development.




Murroe Community Hub






Ballyhoura Development CLG

Will involve the construction of new community building for Murroe-Boher and the surround community.

Will include a community hall, sporting facilities, meeting rooms, office space, a community café and an enterprise space.

Will contribute to rural regeneration, community development and employment opportunities.




Tullycross Residential Education Centre


Tullycross, Renvyle




Western Development Commission


Will build a new Residential Education Centre in Tullycross by developing a building and upgrading its current stock.

The Residential Centre will have the capacity to cater for an average of 40 students and professors.


The project will create jobs, encourage village renewal and capitalise on the rural strengths of the landscape heritage and culture.




Claremorris Indoor Sports Facility






Sligo LEADER Partnership CLG


This project involves the construction of a 150x100m Air Dome with a height of 26m in Claremorris.

The dome will provide year round indoor facilities to ensure the continued focus on sports as a cornerstone of rural communities

The facility, once complete, will be fully available for community use and open to other sports.

Totals €24,417,639



Note to editors: 

The Department of Rural and Community Development:

The Department was established on 19th July 2017 to provide a renewed and consolidated focus on rural and community development in Ireland.

The consolidation into a new Department of both policy and supports in respect of community and rural development provides the means for a greater focus on creating vibrant and sustainable communities.  The Department also has responsibility for ensuring arrangements for strong oversight of the charities sector through facilitating the Charities Regulatory Authority in carrying-out its independent statutory role.


Project Ireland 2040:

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy initiative to make Ireland a better country for all of us, a country that reflects the best of who we are and what we aspire to be.

Project Ireland 2040 is informed by the Programme for a Partnership Government 2016, which recognises that economic and social progress go hand in hand, as well as by the National Planning Framework to 2040 and the National Development Plan 2018-2027.

Project Ireland 2040 emphasises social outcomes and values ahead of economic targets. It prioritises the wellbeing of all of our people, wherever they live and whatever their background.


€4 billion Project Ireland 2040 funds:

The four funds are a major innovation in Project Ireland 2040.  Rather than allocating funding in a ‘business as usual’ way to Government Departments, money will be allocated competitively to the best projects, which leverage investment from other sources thereby ensuring that the impact of this investment goes much, much further.

  • €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund
  • €1 billion Rural Development Fund
  • €500 million Climate Action Fund
  • €500 million Disruptive Technologies Fund


€1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund:

The overall objective of this fund is to deliver the strategic outcomes of Project Ireland 2040, and in particular to strengthen rural economies rural communities by rejuvenating smaller towns and villages, helping to diversify employment opportunities in rural areas, supporting the development of rural communities and improving their quality of life.  The fund will target towns with a population of less than 10,000 people, as well as villages and outlying rural areas.

The fund will encourage collaborative approaches between Departments, agencies, Local Authorities and other public bodies, and the private sector, where appropriate, to pool their assets and work with communities to transform our rural towns and villages and their outlying areas.  Proposals will be expected to be consistent with the National Planning Framework objectives and provide a strategic integrated approach which is consistent with regional and local plans for the area.

Projects must demonstrate a capacity to add value to other public investments. There will be a requirement for a co-funding contribution from other public or private sources – expected to be of the order of 25%.  The first phase will also allow for technical supports for preparatory groundwork for future phase investments, through Local Authorities and other locally based organisations.