Six rural towns to get up to €100k for plans to woo more residents

Ballinrobe, Banagher, Boyle, Callan, Cappoquin, Castleblayney selected for pilot project

Six small towns in six different counties have been invited to suggest how they could become more attractive living spaces by Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring.

The towns of Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, Banagher, Co Offaly, Boyle, Co Roscommon, Callan, Co Kilkenny, Cappoquin, Co Waterford, and Castleblayney, Co Monaghan will receive up to €100,000 each in funding to draw up plans for their future.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution, and the aim of the pilot project is to allow communities themselves to come up with ideas, Mr Ring said at a briefing on Budget 2019 on Thursday.

The pilot project will complement existing initiatives such as his department’s town and village renewal scheme, and the €1 billion ten-year rural regeneration fund announced earlier this year as part of Project 2040.


Mr Ring confirmed over 250 applications have been received for the first round of that latter fund, valued at €55 million , which is geared for towns and villages with a population of under 10,000 people.

Successful applicants will receive minimum allocations of €0.5 million for projects drawn up with local authorities, State funded bodies like Udaras na Gaeltachta, communities and the private sector.

The separate pilot scheme for town centre living will be finalised by mid-2019.

"The reasons why more people do not live in town centres are many and complex,"Mr Ring said, but he recalled how his own home town of Westport had come up with a plan in consultation with the community.

“It was this approach that allowed Westport to become what it is today,” he said.

“This pilot initiative will allow six local authorities to develop and test different innovative models which are considered appropriate for towns of different sizes and in different locations,”Mr Ring said.

“ The learnings from this approach will help to provide an indication as to what might work well for similar types of town on a wider scale,”he said.

Mr Ring acknowledged that broadband was one issue, and it was “not right” that 75 per cent of the State should have high speed provision while 25 per cent did not.

Mr Kyne also signalled extra funding for the Western Development Commission. He said €300,00 had been allocated in the budget to co-fund Atlantic economic corridor offices in each of the ten relevant local authorities.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times