The Heritage Council, along with Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD today, Wednesday, March 15th 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.
Castleisland Gets €250,000
As one of the chosen heritage towns, Castleisland is to receive €250,000 to support the community-led regeneration of the town’s Main Street, underpin urban revitalisation, promote conservation-led improvements to historic fabric in a number of buildings and to ensure occupancy and address vacancy.
This is 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 undertaken from 2018 to 2022.
Re-Use of Historic Buildings
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 new conservation projects and the continuation of another in the following towns: Castleisland, Co Kerry; Ballina, Co Mayo; Bantry, Co Cork and Monaghan Town where the project received approval for a two-year duration 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.
Commenting, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said that today’s announcement demonstrates the huge progress being made as part of Heritage Ireland 2030. “These projects will richly enhance the look and feel of each of the towns involved,” he continued.
“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,” he said.
Celebrations in an Appropriate Week
Chairperson of the Heritage Council, Dr. Martina Moloney said that 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,” Dr. Moloney said.
Heritage Cared for and Protected
Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan said that 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,” said Ms. Teehan.
Chamber Leg-Work Comes Home
Castleisland Chamber Alliance Chairman, Michael John Kearney admitted that his group did the leg-work on this initiative over the past year. The planning began in earnest with a meeting in the truly historic J.K. O’Connor’s / The Market House in May 2020.
A total of 13 potential projects were submitted from the town.
“In fairness the credit for today’s announcement must go to our local politicians and Bobby O’Connell and Fionnán Fitzgerald in particular as it was the parties in government that brought this initiative to fruition,” he said.
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