Record €1.5m heritage fund to boost jobs and economy

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A heritage-led €1.5m fund will provide a jobs boost and an economic stimulus for 10 towns around Ireland.

A heritage-led €1.5m fund will provide a jobs boost and an economic stimulus for 10 towns around Ireland. The Heritage Council, along with Minister Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD, today (04.03.21) announced a list of nominated towns that will share a €1.5m fund.

The Heritage Council’s Historic Towns Initiative 2021 will help to rebuild local economies with heritage as a focal point. Counties included in this year’s plan are Kerry, Donegal, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Offaly, Wexford, Meath and Kilkenny. Local authorities were invited to propose projects for heritage-led regeneration in their area.

The Historic Towns Initiative follows on from similar highly successful programmes in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Last year, €1.1m in funding was awarded under this scheme to provide a jobs and economic stimulus. The programme is a joint initiative between the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Heritage Council.

Speaking today, Minister O’Brien said: “Firstly, as many people know, I am committed to the heritage-led regeneration of our towns and villages, so I am truly delighted to congratulate the 10 successful towns that will benefit from the Historic Towns Initiative 2021.

“We remain in unprecedented times and our communities have been confronted with challenges and hardships that are both unique and extraordinary. In keeping with the Government commitment to a Town Centre First policy, my hope is that these heritage-led regeneration projects will bring economic benefits to our historic towns, thereby helping them to prosper once again.”

Adding to Minister O’Brien’s comments, Minister of State Noonan said: “We wish to put built, cultural and natural heritage at the front of both Government policy and the recovery of the country and so I look forward to working with the Heritage Council on similar initiatives over the coming months and years. Heritage Ireland 2030, the new national heritage plan, which will be published later this spring, will further ensure that our heritage is at the heart of policy across Government.”

Virginia Teehan, the Chief Executive of the Heritage Council commented: “The Heritage Council is very pleased to, once again, administer the Historic Towns Initiative in 2021. Working with local authority partners and communities on heritage-led regeneration is an important Heritage Council priority and we very much look forward to working with Minister O’Brien, Minister of State Noonan and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in this, and all aspects, of the care of our rich heritage.”

Mr Michael Parsons, Heritage Council chairman, added: “It is wonderful to be in a position to support such a range of projects across the country. These projects, taken together, give a flavour of the variety of heritage initiatives that can be undertaken to care for Ireland’s historic towns. The Heritage Council is delighted that the Minister has continued to support this joint initiative. I hope that the success of this year’s round of projects will inspire others to care for the heritage of their towns in future years.”

In 2021 funding will be awarded to the relevant local authorities for projects in:

Listowel, Co Kerry: This funding will support the plan-led regeneration of Listowel’s historic buildings by carrying out works to the spire of Saint John’s Theatre & Arts Centre to prevent water ingress, as well as roof, render and joinery repairs to other prominent buildings in the town’s streets. €200,000.

Roscommon, Co Roscommon: This project will enhance the approach streets to the historic town centre. Conservation works will be carried out on a number of historic buildings in Castle Street, Abbey Street Upper and Goff Street. €136,000.

Birr, Co Offaly

This project will carry out works to conserve the building envelope of the nineteenth century Birr courthouse, which is a Protected Structure, by focusing on the roof, windows and render. This is with a view to its re-use as a community arts hub. €200,000.

Sligo, Co Sligo: This project will involve private owners working with Sligo County Council to undertake the heritage-led regeneration of O'Connell Street (an Architectural Conservation Area) in Sligo town through streetscape conservation and enhancements. €200,000.

Ballyshannon, Co Donegal: This project will work with local property owners on the Mall and Main Street to conserve the historic built environment. This will facilitate sustainable heritage-led regeneration, reinforce civic pride, and promote the tourism potential of Ballyshannon’s historic core. €200,000.

Ballina, Co Mayo: The aim of these works is to carry out conservation works to the Belleek Gate Lodge Protected Structure. This project will act as a demonstrator and allow for re-use. €95,000.

Tramore, Co Waterford: This project will complete works to the windows of the derelict Victorian railway station and will thereby prepare this landmark Protected Structure, located in the popular tourist resort of Tramore, for occupancy. €75,000.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford: This is a heritage-led regeneration project to rejuvenate Slaney Street and Mary Street, in the historic core of Enniscorthy, by repairing windows, painting facades and improving the public realm. €174,000.

Navan, Co Meath: This award will enable conservation works to shopfronts, windows, doors, and signage on Railway Street, which is an important Victorian terrace, on the approach to Navan town centre. €163,000.

Callan, Co Kilkenny: This award will enable the completion of specialist conservation works to iron and masonry elements of St Mary's church boundary on Mill Street, Callan. Phase 1 works in 2020 took place to the Green Street façade. €57,000.