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 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.