Athenry Shortlisted for .IE Awards – Community Digital

The team at Galway Wild Geese were delighted to learn that the Athenry xplore app has been shortlisted for the final of the prestigious .IE Awards 2023.

Led by The Galway Wild Geese, in partnership with Digital Agency, Upourside and a selection of local business owners, community groups, and volunteers the team are working together to ensure that the app meets the needs of the local citizens,

and that it is accessible to all citizens, regardless of their physical or intellectual abilities. The timeline for rollout of the project will be two months, with the app being launched in the third month. 

The project seeks to make the local area more accessible to everyone, regardless of physical or intellectual disabilities and the app will provide an engaging user interface to facilitate navigation, and an intuitive design to provide a user friendly experience. 

Galway Wild Geese have reached an agreement with developers Upourside to use Athenry as a test location for the initial rollout of their ground breaking suite of accessibility tools before rolling out the new features to the whole platform. 

color code book

Incorporating these design and development best practices into the Xplore Athenry app for users with physical or intellectual disabilities will ensure an enjoyable and accessible experience, and will help to create an engaging and user-friendly app.

  • interface designs with simple clear colours
  • larger icons
  • easy to understand language
  • mapping tools that avoid steps/narrow paths and more.
  • Audio cues that are considered, with clear and concise instructions.
  • Navigation that is intuitive, easy access different features of the app.
  • Fonts will be large and readable, and colours that are contrasting to ensure they are easily distinguishable.

The Xplore App for Athenry aims to have a positive impact on attitudes to digital change. It will provide the local community with a comprehensive, up to date and easily accessible source of information which they can access from any device. 

This will allow users to make informed decisions about what to do, whether it is attending an event, supporting a local business or joining a club or community group. 

The app will also make it easier for disabled users to access the information they need, promoting inclusivity and equality.

The objective of this project is to create a digital app that would provide citizens with all the information they need to enjoy the town of Athenry, regardless of their physical or intellectual capabilities. 

This app will feature all local businesses, community groups, restaurants, bars, clubs and trails, as well as notification and alert tools, and tours that highlight local history and culture. 

A strong focus will be placed on engaging users with physical or intellectual disabilities. 

Creating innovative app features for users with intellectual or physical disabilities is an important and often overlooked component of app design and development.

What is Accessible Design

close up photo black Android smartphone

Accessible design, also known as inclusive design or universal design, is the practice of designing products, services, environments, and technologies that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The goal of accessible design is to create a world that is accessible and usable by all, regardless of age, size, ability, or disability.

Accessible design involves considering the needs and limitations of a diverse group of people when designing a product or environment. This includes designing for people with mobility impairments, visual or hearing impairments, cognitive or learning disabilities, and other types of disabilities.

Accessible design can involve a range of design strategies, such as providing alternative formats for information, designing for easy navigation, providing clear and simple instructions, using appropriate colors and contrasts, and ensuring that products and environments are physically accessible.

By designing with accessibility in mind, we can create products and environments that are more usable, more comfortable, and more convenient for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

What is Inclusive Design

white and black laptop

Inclusive design, also known as universal design or accessible design, is an approach to design that aims to create products, services, and environments that are accessible and usable by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or disability. The goal of inclusive design is to create products and environments that are inclusive and equitable, and that can be used by the widest possible range of people.

Inclusive design involves considering the diversity of people’s needs and experiences, and designing products and environments that are flexible, adaptable, and responsive to those needs. This includes designing for people with physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments, as well as people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Inclusive design can involve a range of design strategies, such as providing multiple ways to access information, designing for easy navigation and use, using clear and simple language, providing adequate lighting and contrast, and ensuring that products and environments are physically accessible.

By designing with inclusivity in mind, we can create products and environments that are more usable, more comfortable, and more convenient for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, and promote a more equitable and inclusive society.


Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021. 

Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021. 

Thursday 13 May 2021

The Heritage Council has announced a grant of €25,000 to Galway County Council for the Athenry Town Walls Capital Works Project. The grant will enable the repair and consolidation of the south wall part of the medieval defences In Athenry.

In addition, the Heritage Council has awarded a grant of €12,000 to Galway County Council to undertake a feasibility study to develop a Walkway around Athenry’s medieval town walls. This will help to realise the high potential for improvement in understanding, access and appreciation of the Town Walls and associated monuments among the public.

A further grant of €15,000 is awarded to Galway County Council to support Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021.  This will facilitate a heritage and educational experience where all sectors of the Community can gain a greater awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the medieval town walls and the town of Athenry.

The Loughrea Virtual Medieval Festival 2021 is also awarded a grant of €15,000 to provide an online medieval festival to showcase and create a greater awareness of the rich medieval heritage of Loughrea.

These grants have been awarded under the Irish Walled Towns Network which is helping to make the walled towns of Ireland become better places in which to live, work and visit.


€2.55 million has been allocated to the development of Portumna Courthouse | Arts | Culture | Remote Working

€2.55 million has been allocated to the development of Portumna Courthouse | Arts | Culture | Remote Working

Monday 19 April 2021

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced €75 million for 24 landmark regeneration projects in rural communities across the country.

  • Old Cinemas, Courthouses, Hotels, Convents, and Market Houses to be transformed into remote working hubs, libraries, e-learning, cultural, enterprise and community spaces
  • Development of pedestrian zones, green areas and outdoor public spaces to breathe new life into town centre
  • Focus on combatting dereliction, increasing the vibrancy of towns and regenerating iconic town centre buildings with new purpose.

The funding, which is being provided under the €1 Billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious new policy for Rural Ireland.

A large number of the successful projects provide for the regeneration of vacant town centre buildings as remote working and hot-desking facilities. These projects will support remote workers and commuters to work from and remain in their own local community.

Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte, welcomed the news that €2.55 million has been allocated to the development of Portumna Courthouse, Co. Galway. After being vacant for two decades, the courthouse will be the site of new multi-purpose arts, remote working and social space, with the courtyard becoming an outdoor social space and cafe.

Portumna native, Minister of State Anne Rabbitte commented:

These projects will breathe new life into towns and villages across the country making them attractive and vibrant places for people to live, work, socialise and raise a family.

When I launched Our Rural Future, I said I wanted to see innovative and exciting projects coming forward that would make a real and lasting difference in our rural towns and villages – that’s exactly what the projects we are announcing today are about.

It is absolutely clear that Local Authorities and communities across the country have picked up the ball on remote working and ran with it. I am delighted that so many of the successful projects today will see the development of remote working and hot desking facilities in rural towns and villages.

These projects will not only enable people to live and work in their community but they will also see iconic town centre buildings given a new  lease of life and increase football for local businesses.

 The Minister continued,

A large number of these projects also include significant public realm works such as developing new pedestrian areas in town centres, creating new green areas and developing new outdoor public spaces for community and cultural events – these projects will help to make our towns attractive, lived in and vibrant places.

Today you are seeing Our Rural Future in action – and this is only the beginning. In the coming weeks, I will be inviting new applications under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and bringing forward an enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme which will provide rural communities with more opportunities to make exciting and impactful projects like these a reality.


Sustained! 1.2 million for Portumna Courthouse

Sustained! 1.2 million for Portumna Courthouse

The Wild Geese welcomed the announcement that €1.2 million has been allocated to Portumna from the Department for the pre-development works to conserve and restore Portumna Courthouse to its former glory and begin a new life as for:

  • Enterprise Hub
  • Community Arts Centre
  • Tourism Hub
  • Courtyard Cafe

as well as plans to significantly improve the public realm and streetscape in partnership with local stakeholders.

Portumna, one of Galway’s most idyllic towns, secured the funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF ) administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is a commitment by the Government to invest €1 billion euro in rural Ireland over the period 2019-2027.  The funding will provide a serious boost to Portumna and surrounds, serving to enhance local tourism and drive inward investment into the region as a whole.

Improving the tourism offering of the town will not only help  readily market Portumna to a wider audience both at home and abroad but benefit the entire County as a whole. This is very welcome news for Portumna, for Galwegians and for County Galway.  Portumna emerged from a very competitive national process. This will be key in unlocking the untapped potential in both Portumna and increasing inward investment and growth.

The Economic, Rural and Community Development Unit and newly formed Regeneration Team in the Council will be working closely with all key stakeholders including the communities, the wild geese task force and state agencies to develop a series of projects that will deliver a range of benefits across a number of sectors.

The project will amplify Portumna as an emerging tourism destination as well as warm, welcoming communities in which to live and will also place a strong emphasis on way-finding and interpretation to animate the burgeoning visitor experience within the town with plans to integrate Portumna’s unique heritage assets with the stunning tranquillity and scenery of Portumna Forest Park and Lough Derg,

An ambitious plan that promotes the natural, cultural and heritage assets of Portumna, Galway County Council; working in tandem with all stakeholders and community groups; hope to reimagine and ensure that Portumna develops as a key hub to visit in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Portumna has benefited from a multi-agency approach and current stakeholder relationships built on Galway’s longer-term engagement with the Lough Derg Marketing Group.

“‘Portumna Vision 2030’ was initiated by Galway County Council, Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland and has been closely supported by the Office of Public Works, The Department of Arts, Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Coillte and Inland Fisheries Ireland who are committed to an imaginative strategic vision for Portumna.  In addition to the funds that the Council secured for Portumna itself, it is great news that Failte Ireland also secured €300,000 funding for the development of the Beara Breifne Way under the same programme as this will also add value to the offering to the town and the region once developed.

Portumna has huge potential as a town and the Wild Geese look forward to driving the development opportunities and to continuing to work collaboratively with all the partners to achieve it, knowing that the result of the sum of our plans is far greater than the individual elements.