Heritage funding of €7m to boost jobs and renewal of town centres

Grants will cover archaeological, built and natural heritage as well as biodiversity aids

The Government is to provide €7 million in heritage funding to boost jobs and the renewal of town centres.

The funding is aimed at creating jobs in the heritage sector while rejuvenating town centres, protecting wildlife and preserving ancient monuments. The money is to be made available through five separate funding avenues.

Community Monuments Fund worth €2 million
The money will be used towards the protection and promotion of archaeological heritage. The funding is available to custodians and owners of archaeological monuments. It aims to help bolster people working in the heritage sector, creating jobs in building conservation and other traditional skills.

Thousands of hours of employment are expected to be sustained for stone masons, conservation architects, archaeologists and others working in heritage-related fields. It is anticipated that more than 120 projects across the country will receive assistance under the scheme this year.

Historic Towns Initiative worth €1.5 million
The fund aims to boost employment and stimulate the economy in 10 historic Irish towns. The Historic Towns Initiative aims to promote the heritage-led regeneration of Ireland's historic towns. Successful applicants under the 2021 initiative already include Listowel, Co Kerry; Ballyshannon, Co Donegal; Ballina, Co Mayo; Roscommon town; Sligo town; Tramore, Co Waterford; Birr, Co Offaly; Enniscorthy, Co Wexford; Navan, Co Meath, and Callan, Co Kilkenny.

The €1.5 million in capital funding will help to provide jobs and economic stimulus as well as aiding the rebuilding of local economies, with heritage as a focal point.

Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme worth €1.35 million
This comprises €850,000 for support actions under the National Biodiversity Action Plan and €500,000 for local authority-led projects to tackle invasive alien species in their areas. The scheme is operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Community Heritage Grant Scheme worth €1.3 million
The Heritage Council's Community Heritage Grant Scheme – which led to the discovery of historic Jack B Yeats paintings in 2020 – is now accepting applications from community groups and not-for-profit organisations. Details can be found on the Heritage Council website heritagecouncil.ie.

Heritage Sector Support Fund worth €660,000
More than €660,000 has been offered to 24 organisations under the Heritage Sector Support Fund, a scheme run by the Heritage Council.

The scheme supports not-for-profit and heritage-focused groups who deliver a relevant programme of work. BirdWatch Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society have been offered €50,000 towards their operational costs in 2021.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said the schemes announced would “support communities and towns across the country in protecting and preserving the heritage in their care”. He thanked the Heritage Council for its role in delivering many of the schemes, as well as its support for heritage organisations impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Virginia Teehan, the chief executive of the Heritage Council, said the council was “ very pleased to be in a position to play such a central role in the preservation and promotion of Ireland’s rich and varied heritage”.

She said “heritage-led regeneration is an important priority of ours and we very much look forward to working with the Department on this”.