During a visit to County Clare on Thursday, Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys TD toured three projects that support the ongoing development and revitalization of rural towns and villages in Clare, including a DigiClare hub extended and two community and tourist facilities.
The projects in Ennistymon and Clarecastle have received funding under the Rural Development Investment Scheme, which comprises a number of integrated funding interventions including the Regeneration and Rural Development Fund (RRDF), the for connected hubs and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Program (ORIS).
Minister Humphreys toured the recently completed Connected Hubs extension to the DigiClare Ennistymon Hub. Opened in December 2019, the Ennistymon hub was funded by the 2018 RRDF, receiving a €1.024 million grant under this scheme, and has been developed as a multi-service center integrating a social services space into one part building and a digital hub in the other. The digital hub includes 14 shared offices, seven business incubation units, privacy booths, training rooms and meeting rooms.
The recent renovation of another part of the building, funded by the Connected Hubs Fund 2021, saw the addition of new facilities, including a podcasting room, four private flexible workspaces, showers, a bicycle shelter and associated accessories. There are now 10 DigiClare hubs in locations across the county.
Also in Ennistymon, Minister Humphreys officially opened the Ennistymon River Walk. Ennistymon District Community Organization (EDCO) received funding of €69,000 under ORIS in 2018 to carry out work on the existing Ennistymon River Walk. The project was carried out by EDCO with the help of Clare County Council’s Rural Development Branch. The project primarily involved resurfacing work on the existing trail along with bridge repairs and the inclusion of guardrails and fencing along the trail. The trail is about 3km long and follows a path along the Inagh River. The footbridge is an attractive amenity for the local community and visitors to the city.
Speaking at the opening of the Ennistymon River Walk, Minister Humphreys said, “Today’s visit is to see firsthand the positive impact my ministry’s funding is having on rural communities.
“But it’s also about saying ‘thank you’ to the communities, without whom we wouldn’t be able to develop such wonderful projects as the Ennistymon River Walk.”
The Minister continued: ‘I truly believe that by investing in our outdoor amenities – our rivers, lakes, footbridges and cycleways – we can give a real boost to communities and visitors to rural Ireland. .
“I would like to commend the work of Clare County Council and Ennistymon District Community Organization who have worked closely together to deliver this project. Your dedication and drive are truly commendable.
Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank the Minister for her support of the wide range of rural and community projects and initiatives that have been funded in County Clare under the Minister’s Department of Rural and Community Development, providing much-needed infrastructure to support the continued development of our rural communities. I look forward to the Minister’s continued support, as part of the government’s rural development strategy, “Our Rural Future”, for the revitalization, repopulation and development of our rural towns and villages, in order to provide new opportunities for people living in rural Clare. »
In Clarecastle, Minister Humphreys officially opened the Fergus River Walk and Cycleway, which runs from the R469 Quin road in Ennis to the N85 roundabout in Clareabbey, along an area of recreational value and visually important. The paved walkway along the river is approximately 1.5km and provides a link between the two roads, resulting in a 5.5km loop walk. The region is rich in heritage and biodiversity and the project is expected to generate significant tourism and educational benefits.
The Fergus River Walk and Cycleway was funded under ORIS with matching funding from Clare County Council. Support was provided by the Clarecastle Development Association, the Ennis Chamber of Commerce and the tourism umbrella group Promote Ennis.
Deputy Mayor of the Municipal District of Ennis, Cllr Paul Murphy, said: ‘A riverside promenade along the Fergus has been a long-standing goal of Council and various community and business groups for many years now. The recently completed Ennis South flood relief scheme has given us a unique opportunity to provide a universally accessible footbridge and cycle path along this particular section of the route which is a beautifully scenic, ecologically rich area and historically significant linking the outskirts of Ennis to the outskirts of the nearby village of Clarecastle.
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development at Clare County Council, said: “The three projects visited by Minister Humphreys today are proving very popular. The Ennistymon hub is regularly full and is a real success story for the community and town of Ennistymon. The Fergus River Walk and Cycleway and the Ennistymon River Walk will make a great contribution to the wellbeing and tourism of the community, which is particularly welcome as we continue to face the ongoing challenges of the Covid pandemic -19.
As part of her visit to County Clare, Minister Humphreys recognized the work of the many community and volunteer groups, NGOs and government agencies working on the ground to respond to the Ukraine crisis. She acknowledged the work of the Clare LLCC (Local Community Development Committee), which is the central point of contact in Clare for national government departments, and the efforts of the Clare Community Response Forum, which coordinates services/support from agencies, NGOs and communities. and volunteer groups. Paying tribute to all volunteer groups, the minister met with a volunteer group (Lisdoonvarna Fáilte CLG) as an example of volunteers who have been active since early March in support of visitors arriving from Ukraine in North Clare.