€1.3m funding to boost local economies and address vacancy in 11 historic towns

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The Heritage Council, along with Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD today (15.03.23) announced that 11 historic towns will share €1.3m funding under the 2023 Historic Towns Initiative (HTI). The funding will help to provide jobs through heritage-led regeneration, will aid the rebuilding of local economies and address vacancy with heritage as the consistent focal point.

A joint initiative between the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Heritage Council, this year’s scheme follows on from highly successful projects during 2018 to 2022. The HTI seeks proposals that encourage the specific re-use of historic buildings with works on this year’s projects to be completed before the end of the year.

Funding is recommended towards three conservation projects in the following towns:

  • Castleisland, Co Kerry;
  • Ballina, Co Mayo and
  • Bantry, Co Cork,
  • Monaghan, Co. Monaghan (this project received approval for a two-year project in 2022)

Meanwhile, there are plans to aid heritage-led regeneration in the following towns:

  • Macroom; Co Cork;
  • Duleek; Co Meath;
  • Ramelton, Co Donegal;
  • Enniscorthy, Co Wexford;
  • Ballymote, Co Sligo;
  • Carlow, Co Carlow; and
  • Drogheda, Co Louth.

Further details on these projects are available in the Notes to Editors below. *

Commenting, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said:

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the huge progress being made as part of Heritage Ireland 2030 and these projects will richly enhance the look and feel of each of the towns involved. This announcement demonstrates our commitment to heritage-led regeneration as part of our efforts to tackle vacancy and roll out our Town Centre First policy, creating town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit. Looking through each of the projects, I am filled with a sense of hope and excitement about the potential for growth in our towns in a way that puts heritage front and centre, and am looking forward to seeing the completed works.”

Chairperson of the Heritage Council, Dr Martina Moloney commented:

“It is appropriate that in a week where we as a country celebrate our national cultural heritage for St Patrick’s Day, that we can admire the efforts of local authority partners and communities in preserving and protecting our valuable built heritage through the Historic Towns Initiative. It is a fantastic scheme which will play a pivotal role in facilitating the re-use of vacant buildings in our town centres by tackling dereliction and helping us meet our climate change targets.”

Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan commented:

“The Heritage Council is very pleased to, once again, administer the Historic Towns Initiative in 2023. I would like to congratulate the 11 successful towns that will benefit from the scheme in 2023 for their innovative and heritage-focused projects. Collaboration is the cornerstone of the scheme which owes its success to the determination of community groups, local authority partners and colleagues in Government, all of whom work together with the Heritage Council to guarantee that our rich heritage is cared for and protected.”

Media contact:

Pearse Ó Caoimh  T. 085-8590378 

See how the HTI scheme has benefited built heritage in Letterkenny in this video

Project details and awards 2023:

Castleisland, Co Kerry: This funding will support the community-led regeneration of Castleisland's main street, underpin urban revitalisation, promote conservation-led improvements to historic fabric in a number of buildings to ensure occupancy and address vacancy. €250,000.

Ballina, Co Mayo: The aim of these works is to continue the conservation works to the Belleek Gate Lodge Protected Structure. This project will allow for re-use of the structure as a residence for artists, writers, ecologists, historians, environmentalists and community engagement. €240,000.

Bantry, Co Cork: This award will enable external conservation works including window replacement to Bantry Library. This is a significant modernist building of local, national and international architectural interest and one of Cork’s finest public buildings of the 20th century. €259,920.

Monaghan, Co Monaghan: This project aims to re-establish residential use in the historic Dublin Street, Monaghan town. This will entail external conservation works to five buildings and internal refurbishment to two buildings for residential use. €263,434.

In addition, funding has been awarded to the relevant local authorities for five heritage-led regeneration plans. It is hoped that such plans will inform future applications for conservation funding in:

  • Macroom; Co Cork (€40,000).
  • Duleek; Co Meath (€36,000).
  • Ramelton, Co Donegal (€40,000).
  • Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (€40,000);
  • Ballymote, Co Sligo (€40,000);
  • Carlow, Co Carlow (€40,000);
  • Drogheda, Co Louth (€40,000).