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Minister Ring hosts “Rural Opportunity” roadshows

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring has today hosted the first of a series of “Rural Opportunity” briefing sessions for communities across Ireland.

The events, along with an accompanying information campaign, are intended to raise awareness of the wide variety of Government supports available to rural communities.

The first of these briefings took place in the Concert Hall in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny today where Minister Ring was joined by Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Charlie Flanagan TD, Minister for Justice and Equality.

Three further events are planned:

  • Wednesday 27 March, Granard, Co. Longford
  • Wednesday 10 April, Corofin, Co. Clare
  • Friday 12 April, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal

The event was attended by community groups from rural areas that are interested in accessing Government supports.

Attendees were shown a series of video case studies of successful Government funded projects from the enterprise, tourism, community and artistic sectors. A number of individuals and community groups from the south-east area spoke about delivering their successful project and how they were able to access funding. The briefing also provided an update on how to access funding for rural, or community, projects.

Minister Ring said that the case studies presented at the events demonstrate what rural funding supports can achieve for communities:

 “These events are about people telling their stories of how, with Government support and collaboration, they are making life better in rural communities.

“I want as many people as possible to take inspiration from these stories and then go and access the supports available. We want to illustrate how the Government is committed to supporting enterprise and job creation, tourism, culture, community and the Irish language. We are committed to supporting a vibrant and resilient rural Ireland – a place where people will want to live and work - and we are doing that through funding and in partnership with local people.

“These case studies are just a very small sample of the wonderful projects that we have provided funding for. I hope they inspire those who see them to act in their own communities.”

Minister Bruton said:

“The government are determined to take the lead in stepping up Ireland’s response to climate change. We are creating opportunities for citizens and communities to take action in their own lives. Nearly 23,000 families were supported to improve the energy efficiency measures in their homes or make the switch to electric vehicles last year. Over 200 communities are taking the lead and future proofing their local communities through the Sustainable Energy Community network. Climate disruption is the biggest challenge to our generation. We must step up our ambition and make changes that will ensure a more sustainable future for all.”

Minister Flanagan said:

“I know just how much is going on throughout this country.  As a public representative from a rural constituency I see on a regular basis the wonderful things happening in my area. Many of them are facilitated by communities coming together to access available funding supports. This Rural Opportunity campaign, the video case studies, and the amazing stories being told here today, confirm to me that ingenuity and tenacity are the common threads that are woven throughout rural Ireland.”

Minister Ring concluded:

“In these uncertain times it is even more important that we as a Government help communities in rural Ireland to build resilience. The funding is there to make this happen.”

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Note for Editors:

Background on case studies of projects featured at the Thomastown event

These regional events will hear from representatives of local rural communities who have successfully availed of supports and delivered a programme or project in their locality. These projects have made a positive impact in terms of community development and resilience, enterprise or job development, tourism development, etc.

Nemeton TV

Irial Mac Murchú is the CEO of Nemeton TV, a television and media production company based in the Waterford Gaeltacht.  Nemeton has been in business over 25 years and produces television content for the likes of the BBC, Sky and BT Sport.  Nemeton also provides web content for the GAA and the Guinness Pro 12 and produces branded content for the All Ireland Club Finals for AIB, the All Ireland GAA Minor Championships for Electric Ireland and the Guinness Hurling Bootcamp on TV3.  Nemeton is also the biggest satellite operator in Ireland, covering live sports, breaking news, for international clients including Sky, the BBC and RTE.  Finally, Nemeton has also taken a hand in developing the next generation of creative, through its development of the Higher Diploma in TV and Digital Media Production in partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology and Údarás na Gaeltachta. 

Nemeton is located in a rural area just outside Dungarvan but operates an international business successful from that location.  Throughout its development, Nemeton has benefitted from the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta, from set up stage to scaling up and growth - through capital, equipment, R&D and market development supports. 

The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens

Lafcadio Hearn was a 19th century writer, best known for his books about Japan, who spent many of his childhood summers in Tramore.  Hearn was the son of an Anglo-Irish father and Greek mother and his work is widely recognised in Greece, Japan and the United States where he spent periods of his life.  The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, completed in 2015, is located on a 2.5 acre site overlooking Tramore Bay.  The gardens are a monument to Hearn’s legacy, reflecting elements of the gardening traditions of the countries and cultures traversed by Lafcadio Hearn during his varied life – comprised of a Victorian Garden, an American Garden, a Greek Garden, a traditional Japanese Tea Garden and a Stream Garden which leads to ponds and a waterfall and an extensive woodland area.  The Gardens have benefitted from supports provided by Fáilte Ireland, as well as the Community Services Programme, administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development. 

The Villierstown Education and Culture Project

The Villierstown Education and Culture Project is a community development and volunteer-based organisation that is working in a number of areas in the community. For example, the company runs the Villierstown Montessori School, which provides an excellent preschool education to approximately 40 children per year, Blackwater Eco Tours, a social enterprise which provides river tours, walking trails and glamping pod accommodation, and the Villierstown Community Development CLG, a subsidiary organisation focusing on the repurposing and redevelopment of a derelict site in the centre of the village. The Villierstown project company has benefitted from support provided by the Community Services Programme. 

Clontubrid School

Clontubrid School has received two grants under the Department of Rural and Community Development’s CLAR Programme, a targeted investment programme which provides funding for small scale infrastructural projects in rural areas that have suffered the greatest levels of population decline. The first grant in 2017 was for the development of an all-weather turf based grass pitch. This replaced the previous field pitch which was wet and unusable for most of the year. This facility is open to the community outside of school hours and a wide variety of sports are played on it. 

Example of Projects funded by DRCD in 2018

•          DRCD funding announced for Woodstock Estate and Gardens of €337,553 under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This funding is important for the popular South Kilkenny beauty spot - which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. The continued development of our recreational infrastructure will not only support Ireland's rural tourism potential, but will also provide a diverse range of recreation options for local communities to support their own health and fitness and enjoy the countryside with their families.

•          The tourism potential of the village continues to grow with this funding and also with €200,000 announced for Inistioge under the 2018 Town and Village Renewal Scheme. That funding will be used to restore and improve the square where the Dunnes Stores Christmas ad was shot and complete works along the River Park.

•          In Thomastown under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme €146,198 will be provided for the conversion of an unused Community Hall into a custom built library with business incubation space with hot-desking facilities.

•          Coon, under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, €100,000 was announced for completion of a parking area near the playground & recreational area, and the rebuilding of 50m of heritage wall.

•          €50,000 CLAR funding from DRCD will provide much needed car parking for Community Crèche, National School and Community Hall FOR Muckalee Community Crèche & St. Brendan's National School. Works to include carpark construction, bus set-down area, footpaths, road markings, signage and ducting for future public lighting provision.

•          Scoil Bhríde N.S. Lisdowney & Lisdowney GAA Club receive  €40500 DRCD, CLAR 2018 funding for  Installation of, digital speed safety signs indicating that cars are entering a particular zone on the two approaches to the National School and the installation of a footpath to provider safer connectivity to the GAA grounds and improve road markings.