Renewing your Historic Town or Village

Helping to make your town or village a better place in which to live can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Below are a set of helpful publications, presentations and links we think will make the process easier. 

Towns - even small ones - are incredibly complex places, each with their own particular issues, attributes and character.

Effecting positive change will require empathetic leadership, consensus building, the creation of an incisive strategy and patience. Most of the places that have succeeded have done so over a fifteen or twenty-year time span. Although this may appear daunting, that level of prolonged effort makes success all the sweeter and the community more robust to change. 

Below are a set of helpful publications, presentations and links we think will make the process easier. The resources are organised under nine complementary topics: strategic context, working with and protecting heritage, communities working together, public realm and planning, tourism, heritage interpretation and the arts sector, retail, town plans and funding sources. Because the upskilling of all those involved in urban renewal is so important, we also provide direction on training opportunities. Finally, we list some links to organisations who almost solely deal with urban regeneration. 

It is worth noting that the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel holds the world’s largest collection of videos dedicated to urban renewal. There are almost 100 presentations available to watch. 

Perhaps the first thing you should do is read our short publication Ballybrilliant: Heritage-led Regeneration in 5 Irish Towns in five Irish towns (2017). It is jam packed with easily digestible information on how your town or village can become a better place in which to live, work and visit. 

Strategic context

  • Town: origins, morphology and future (2012), Murphy, O.
  • The Irish town: an approach to survival (1975), Shaffrey, P., O’Brien Press 

Strategic context presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel 

Working with and protecting heritage

There are three excellent GIS based websites that will give you a strong understanding of the built, natural and intangible heritage of your area. Heritagemaps.ie provides information on built and natural heritage. The Historic Environment Viewer focuses on archaeological monuments and architectural heritage. Finally, Dúchas.ie is dedicated to local folklore. 

Working with and protecting heritage presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel 

Communities working together

Communities working together presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Public realm and planning

  • Revitalising Ireland’s towns: a collaborative initiative by National ‘Pilot’ Town Centre Health Check (TCHC) Training
    Workshop Pack 1
    Workshop Pack 2

Public realm presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Planning presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel 

Tourism

Tourism presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Heritage interpretation and the arts sector

Heritage interpretation presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Organising events presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

The role of the arts sector in urban renewal presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Retail

Retail presentations on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel 

Town plans 

Understanding the social and economic profile of your own place is fundamental to any incisive town or village renewal plan. The Central Statistics Office's (CSO) searchable StatBank platform contains a wealth of information, including data from the 2016 census. Although slightly out of date, material from the 2011 census has been collated by the CSO into handy area profiles for all Irish towns.

Presentations about the exemplar Ballybrilliant towns on the Heritage Council’s YouTube channel

Funding sources

Grant opportunities from the State and the EU can change frequently. Accordingly, a detailed breakdown of existing sources could become quickly redundant. Nonetheless, the organisations listed below have through various grant programmes provided funding for the social, economic, tourism and heritage initiatives that may be deemed necessary for your town to succeed. Accordingly, careful observation should be maintained of their grant programmes and how they could help fund the suggested actions. The following list of relevant State, EU and NGO funding sources is not exhaustive: 

Where possible, local business and community sourced funding should be obtained to support projects. Most government and EU funding requires some level of matching funding. Companies and individuals can avail of tax relief on charitable donations under Section 848A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. If the implementing body of the planned urban regeneration actions already has or obtains charitable status this will be an additional incentive for companies and individuals to provide financial support. 

The Wheel, which is a representative body for charities and voluntary organizations, provides useful information on fundraising from the public and grants on its website, www.wheel.ie. The website also has a regularly updated directory of live grant opportunities. 

Funding bodies provide guidance notes for making an application and many share details of previously successful applications. If an application is unsuccessful don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. 

Training opportunities

Engaging on a solo effort to implement positive change in your town or village will probably lead to burnout within two or three years. For that reason, it is best that a broad-based team composed of people with different backgrounds and strengths be created (i.e. representatives from the private, public and community sectors). However, no matter the expertise of experience of this group, it is essential that individuals continue to upskill and meet others attempting to solve similar problems in their town. Below is a non-exhaustive list of organisations that provide training on subjects that will assist town team members in making better decisions. Most only run one or two events a year that may be of relevance to you. Consequently, it is important to regularly check the various websites. It would also be useful to follow their Twitter and Facebook pages. 

Working with and protecting heritage

 Communities working together

Tourism

Heritage interpretation and the arts sector

 Public realm and planning

Retail and other small business

 Accessing funding sources

Certificate/Masters programme 


Organisations primarily focused on urban regeneration 


Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Nikki Mathews and Marc Ritchie of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Orla Murphy, Architect, for their suggestions.

This page is an initiative of the Irish Walled Towns Network.