The highly-anticipated Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh, Irelands largest round tower in the presence of Minister of State Anne Rabbitte, Laura Tannian, Enterprise Development Manager of The Forge Works, Elodie Golden CEO of Wild Geese, Jonathan Madden, COMWORKS and Maevita De Barros representing the Xplore Local team.
Xplore is a digital infrastructure for towns developed by Galway based company, Booniverse Limited. The platform’s simplistic design allows users to interact with a variety of towns without having to download multiple apps or visit multiple websites. Users enable location services or select a region to simply stay local.
Gort has now become part of Xplore’s growing network of towns that extends from Galway to Kerry, from Cork to Carlow. The launch is indicative of a wider movement in towns across the country, where enterprising locals are seeking out new and efficient ways to boost their local economies, attract tourists and promote their towns’ amenities.
Laura Tannian and her team have been working tirelessly over the past number of months to get the app ready for release.
Speaking on how the app will be of benefit to the local economy, Minister Rabbitte:
Even before the pandemic, small businesses based in rural areas were already having to change the way they marketed their products and services and appeal to new clientele.
For some small businesses and start-ups — such as artisan food-makers who may be working from their home kitchens — Rabbitte says the app allows them to harness ‘alternative ways of marketing with the app giving you directions to the middle of nowhere, giving you the business telephone number, bringing you to their webpage, their social profiles. One feature I find fantastic myself is the share button which allows the user to share a profile page to friends and family.
That’s the wonderful thing about the app: there’s something in it for everyone…from the local news, to the business profile, from the hikes and trails, to the local history brought to life – there’s something for all ages — and it’s simple to use.
Xplore Gort aims to better serve the needs of locals and tourists alike — especially in times like these when shopping and exploring locally has never been more important.
With retailers reopened for Click and Collect since May 4th, local businesses are sure to be delighted with the e-commerce features of the app. Hospitality won’t be forgotten either when they reopen, with access to features that highlight their services, people and community impact.
Commenting on the launch, Xplore COO James Finan said:
We are delighted to be in partnership with Gort, the response has been amazing and it shows how valuable and needed something like the Xplore Gort App is. We are now working with the communities in Galway, Fermoy, Tralee, Clonakilty, Portumna & Youghal to keep them up to date and are currently preparing Killarney and Bagenalstown for rollout. We want Xplore to matter — to our clients, to our people, and in our communities — both here in Ireland and other communities around the world, wherever we do business. I would be very happy to speak with any group who wants this for their town.
You can download the app here: http://onelink.to/tjwkz8 (this link will take readers to the IOS or android stores depending on their phone type.
Friday 23 April 2021
- Public encouraged to report breeding Curlew sightings to NPWS between April and June
- Citizen science records will inform 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey
- Nine areas in key Curlew hotspots across the country are prioritised
- Contact NPWS with any sightings
Citizen scientists can help bring one of Ireland’s most iconic birds back from the brink by reporting sightings to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The Curlew Conservation Programme is encouraging members of the public to record locations of Curlew sightings between April and June and report the information to the NPWS’s team. Breeding Curlew are currently nesting in bogs, pastures, meadows and other open and wet habitats in Curlew hotspots around the country. By submitting records of sightings, the public can help build up a national picture of the number of breeding birds.
Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said:
This is a fantastic way for people across the country to get to know the wild places in their county and, at the same time, to contribute to the conservation of one of our most iconic and best-loved birds. I’d like to encourage all budding citizen scientists young and old to get involved and help our Curlew Conservation Programme team to gather this important data, which will support the ongoing protection of the Curlew.
How to submit records:
– By email: email@example.com
– By phone to the survey coordinator on 083 104 8000
– Online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QRLHR7B here
The Curlew Conservation Programme – jointly funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – has been collaborating with landowners in nine key areas (listed below) since 2017 in an effort to halt the decline of a bird whose numbers decreased by 96% in a 30 year period. Curlew occur in flocks around many of our coasts in winter, but the vast majority are migrants, with only around 1 in 30 birds actually breeding here in the Spring.
Dr Seán Kelly, NPWS waterbird ecologist managing the 2021 breeding Curlew survey, said
Breeding Curlew populations in Ireland are amongst the country’s most pressing conservation priorities, of great concern to conservationists and the wider public alike. This enigmatic species has inspired generations of art and folklore, including the great William Butler Yeats – and much like the great works of Yeats, Curlew deserve to be cherished, celebrated and protected in Ireland. The 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey will provide an update on the previous survey from 2015, letting us know how successful our efforts to date have been and what we need to do in the immediate future. There is huge positive momentum around the country for Curlew conservation, particularly in the farming community, and we need to build upon this.
The call of the Curlew is synonymous with the Irish countryside – from lowland grassland and raised bogs to our mountains and hills their distinctive ‘coorlew’ call is a sign of Spring. Like a growing number of our bird species, Curlew populations have declined dramatically – so much so that fewer than 200 breeding pairs now occur across Ireland.
In recognition of the seriousness of the threat to Irish breeding Curlew, Minsters Noonan and Hackett jointly increased funding to enhance conservation efforts earlier this year. At the launch of the enhanced financial support for the Curlew Conservation Programme, Minister Noonan described the situation for Curlew as “one of the most difficult and pressing conservation concerns of our time” and the funding allowing a strengthening of work between communities and conservationists, “working together to protect this iconic and much-loved bird”.
The nine key Curlew hotspots for the Curlew Conservation Programme are:
- Stack’s Mountains, Kerry
- Lough Corrib
- Lough Ree
- North Roscommon/Mayo
- North Monaghan
- Slieve Aughty Mountains
For more information on the Curlew Conservation Programme, including reports, see: https://www.npws.ie/farmers-and-landowners/schemes/curlew-conservation-programme
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday, May 12th) announced the third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
- Funding to support landmark regeneration projects that will transform Rural Ireland
- Communities urged to put forward projects that will drive economic growth, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres
- Strong focus on converting old buildings into remote working facilities and attracting people back to rural towns and villages
This Fund will support landmark regeneration projects across the country that will breathe new life into rural towns and villages.
Communities are being urged to put forward projects that will drive economic growth and footfall, combat dereliction, regenerate town centre and heritage buildings, develop pedestrian zones and outdoor spaces and make rural towns more attractive places to live, work and raise a family.
There will also be a strong focus on developing remote working facilities such as digital and enterprise communities, as well as e-learning, cultural and community spaces.
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is a key component of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious five year policy for Rural Ireland. The €1 billion Fund is also part of the Department’s Rural Development Investment Programme, which is funded under Project Ireland 2040.
Projects that will be funded under Category 2 are those that require significant development before they reach the stage of being shovel ready. They will be projects that can revitalise our towns and villages and attract people back to live and work in rural area – key objectives of Our Rural Future
To date, the Fund has delivered €249 million for 164 projects worth a total of €338 million across the country.
Announcing the call today, Minister Humphreys said:
Today I am opening the third call for Category 2 applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
I am seeking large-scale, ambitious projects which require development support to enable them to become ready to compete for full capital funding under Category 1 of the Fund.
The Government’s new rural policy – Our Rural Future – has set out an ambitious vision for Rural Ireland and this Fund is one of the key means of realising that ambition.
Only last month, I announced €81 million in support from this Fund for 25 landmark projects around the country and it is vital that we maintain this momentum.
I want to see new projects which match my ambition for rural areas – delivering sustainable growth, greater activity and innovative approaches to revitalising our rural towns and villages.
I also want to see projects that will address dereliction and support the Government’s desire to make remote working a permanent fixture in the lives of tens of thousands of our citizens.
This Fund represents a once in a generation opportunity – I urge you all to be bold and be ambitious with your proposals.
Minister Humphreys added:
The investment that is being provided through this Fund is truly transformational in scale. It is allowing rural communities to transform and reshape their towns and villages and to position them to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the pandemic in terms of remote working and of people returning to rural areas to live and work.
The development of these large scale projects requires significant resources and the Category 2 funding provided through this call will enable projects to reach a stage where they are developed to a high standard and are ready to commence. This will ensure that there is a pipeline of high-quality, ambitious projects ready to compete for funding in future Category 1 calls from the Fund.
I encourage our partners, stakeholders and rural communities to work together to avail of this wonderful opportunity.
Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte welcomed the latest announcement:
I am delighted to see such a commitment in government to rural Ireland. The strong focus on developing remote working facilities such as digital and enterprise communities, as well as e-learning, cultural and community spaces is music to my ears. My desk is piled high with innovative, disruptive proposals and projects from the enterprise, e-learning and remote working communities – I have been engaging with some really impressive community groups long before the pandemic. Paradoxically, the pandemic has accelerated the movements that were already taking place such as remote working, co-working hubs and digital transformation. Post-pandemic, all of these innovations will be mainstream. I want to see East Galway at the forefront of this disruption and innovation, the ultimate winners – our rural towns, villages and communities. We need to be big, bold and fearless in our approach.
Full details are available on gov.ie
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.
The Wild Geese East Galway have partnered with Booniverse Limited since 2019 with the specific goal of raising the profiles of the main towns and villages of East Galway. Our vision was first muted at a presentation at Portumna Castle in July 2019 where Booniverse Agency demonstrated the features and functionality and community benefits of the app to local business, services and folks.
It gives us great pleasure to announce that Portumna is the first town in East Galway to go live on the xplore local app. A group of enterprising local TY students and university students volunteered and worked assiduously on the backend gathering and inputting the data on each local business and local attraction.
The app has community at its heart and in addition to promoting local business, the xplore local app will include the following features designed to promote our towns both to local tourists, and, as we slowly emerge and recover from the pandemic to all visitors.
A mobile digital infrastructure for the towns of East Galway is central to the ongoing strategy of the Wild Geese Taskforce enabling us to:
- support and promote local business
- engage with and build communities
- promote local, national and international tourism
- build modern community alerts and notices
- pitch our towns on the national and international stage as a place to live and work remotely
Already, the self-guided tours, interactive hikes, and trails are proving popular with communities during the very restrictive measures imposed by the pandemic.
Nobody would dispute that 2020 had more than its fair share of darkness. But when we look back at all the dark aspects of 2020 and turn them over, we see that some have light on the other side.
2020 was a crucible, a time of immense trials and unspeakable losses that has also created unforeseen possibilities for change. We’re in the midst of a winter that, as experts predicted, will be dark. But with vaccines being rolled out, and with the winter solstice now behind us, each day gives us a bit more light.
The pandemic may have put a sudden stop to travel, commuting, sporting events, dining out, and seeing our friends whenever and wherever we wanted. But it also made us realise how many parts of our frenetic, harried, and over-scheduled lives just weren’t necessary.
Throughout the lockdown, social media and news outlets have inundated us with stories and images of nature “returning” to our cities and towns, with dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice. In parks and green spaces, new desire paths have quickly developed as people make their own routes in the urban landscape.
We relished these images because they were shining beacons of light in the darkness. The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you but try and adapt, make some good things happen (within your 5km!)
For not only will you fill your world with hope, but you will also fill yourself with hope. What we all hope will endure after the pandemic is the deeper human engagement with the natural world so many of us experienced during the lockdown and close-knit communities.
The pandemic may have shut down much of the human-controlled part of the world, but, thankfully, nature hasn’t gotten the message. Birds still chirp, flowers burst into bloom and gentle breezes still sway the trees.
Here in Portumna, our lush and verdant forest has had a renaissance. Our lake so tranquil and vibrant every morning welcomes the locals seeking comfort and joy swimming early in the morning. The gifts of nature are endless. We used to dream about escaping our ordinary life, but life was never ordinary. We simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.
So take this opportunity to rediscover the extraordinary in your home town, support local and xplore local. I think Hippocrates said it best:
Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity