Portumna and The Galway Wild Geese are Winners at .IE awards 2023

Portumna and The Galway Wild Geese are Winners at .IE awards 2023

This application was in support of StoryWell in early stages development in the mobile app lifecycle.

Inspired by Cuimneamh An Chláir who capture oral histories, Storywell hope to build on the idea piloting in County Galway.

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There is something beautiful in how knowledge and wisdom is held and carried by older generations.

Cuimhneamh an Chláir documents the memories, experiences, customs and traditions that characterise the place we live in and train volunteers known as ’Cuairteóirí’ (visitors), who visit people in their own communities to record their stories.

teacup on book beside pink flower decor

This is in homage to the old tradition of ‘going on cuaird’; a practice which centres on respectful listening and on conversation with the elders of a community.

Our elders often think their lives are too mundane or their experiences too ordinary to be worth recording.  Until they start telling a tale and pure gold drips from their mouths.

In fact, their voices are extraordinary.

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Even the most mundane stories can be entertaining when told with the right tone and perspective.  Not only do recorded stories provide entertainment and laughter, they also serve as a valuable source of information for future generations.

By recording family’s stories, we can preserve important details about our family’s history and traditions, our town’s history and traditions that may otherwise be lost.

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But perhaps the most important reason to record our family’s stories is to foster a sense of connection and belonging within families and within your community.

When we take the time to listen to and record the stories of our loved ones, of our neighbours we are showing them that their experiences and perspectives matter.

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And when those stories are shared with future generations, they can serve as a reminder of the unique bond and history that our family shares.

Imagine what it would be like to listen to your great great grandparents voices as they were experiencing the Easter Rising or the 1,000,000 people who fled Ireland during the Great Famine in 1846!

circa 1885: An Irish tenant and his family are evicted from their smallholding in Derrybeg, County Donegal, for failure to pay the rent. Furniture has been removed and the thatched roof destroyed to prevent the property being re-tenanted. (Photo by Robert French/Sean Sexton/Getty Images)


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The team behind StoryWell are based in Portumna and are ambitious.

They realise that meaningful impact can only be achieved at scale, using digital technology which will be designed to make the recording of future oral histories and stories intuitive, entertaining and rewarding.

StoryWell will give the gift of stories to our future generations in an interactive way and wants to help families to capture their best memories and to enjoy listening to their loved one’s voices forever.

Our experienced team who include a Digital Project Manager, Linda Quinn (Consultant) and experienced developers are ready to develop a prototype of Storywell, including proof of concept [MVP], a visual representation of the future app StoryWell.

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. 

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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

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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.


Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh

Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh

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.

Anne continued: 

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. 

NPWS seeks citizen scientists to help endangered Curlew

NPWS seeks citizen scientists to help endangered Curlew

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:  nationalcurlewsurvey@gmail.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
  • Mid-Leitrim
  • North Monaghan
  • Donegal
  • Slieve Aughty Mountains
  • Laois/Kildare

For more information on the Curlew Conservation Programme, including reports, see: https://www.npws.ie/farmers-and-landowners/schemes/curlew-conservation-programme

Third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

Third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

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

€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.