Old schools, cinemas, courthouses and vacant buildings are to be transformed into remote working hubs, creative studios, visitor centres, museums, libraries and community spaces under a multi-million euro fund.
Minister for Community and Rural Development Heather Humphreys announced that €21.5 million has been set aside for 27 "landmark" regeneration projects in rural communities around the country.
The funding, from the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF), is being invested in projects that will rejuvenate town centres, drive economic growth and footfall, combat dereliction, develop pedestrian zones and outdoor spaces and boost tourism in rural Ireland, the department said.
The project which received the highest level of funding was the Edenderry regeneration phase II, in Co Offaly, which was allocated €2.15 million.
It will turn a major derelict site into a community centre, providing for a community library, as well as leisure and cultural facilities.
Dungarvan in Co Waterford will receive €1.39 million, which will be used to renovate three town centre buildings into a hub with office and workspace for almost 200 people.
A disused cinema in Nenagh, Co Tipperary was awareded €1.2 million. The funding will transform the facility into a digital and enterprise hub, which will include a new streetscape and will explore the potential provision of town centre housing and a new public amenity.
Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said it will make towns and villages “even better places to live, work, raise a family and run a business”.
“When complete, these projects will leave a lasting difference on these locations for generations to come, benefitting tens of thousands of families in rural Ireland,” she said.
“Remote working is the now very much part of the fabric of rural Ireland due to Covid-19. By continuing to invest in remote working facilities – by turning old, run-down buildings into digital hubs, we will ensure more of our young people can work and live in their own community.”
In total, the RRD fund has delivered €277 million in funding for 191 projects worth a total of €374 million.