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13 Aug 2022

Heritage towns in Offaly can avail of new grants scheme

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The heritage town of Birr could be in line for grants

A total of €1.5 million has been allocated for the heritage-led regeneration of  towns around the country, including Offaly and the wider Midlands. 

The funds, which will be released next year, will be particularly  welcome by urban areas hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The scheme was announced in December by Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD.

Commenting, he said: “I am delighted to launch another year of the Historic Towns Initiative, which will support the regeneration of even more Irish historic towns. This Initiative will make €1.5 million available to a number of towns, which will in turn help drive investment and renewal.

“Heritage-led regeneration can breathe new life into a town, helping to provide an attractive environment where people can live and work. The renewed vibrancy in the heart of a town brings its own economic benefits as footfall and visitor numbers increase and new light shines into once-vacant commercial and residential premises.”

The Historic Towns Initiative (HTI) 2021 is a joint undertaking by the Department and the Heritage Council. To date, a total of 18 towns have benefitted under the scheme with a variety of projects funded over the past three years. 

This year, those that received financial assistance were:  Ramelton, Co Donegal; Roscommon town, Co Roscommon; Sligo, Co Sligo; Clones, Co Monaghan; Ballina, Co Mayo; Callan, Co Kilkenny, and Tralee, Co Kerry.    These included streetscape conservation projects, such as works to traditional railings, render and joinery and historic roof maintenance.

Welcoming the launch, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said: “By investing in the rich built heritage of our towns, the Historic Towns Initiative conserves and celebrates the features which make them unique. I am very proud of this partnership between the Heritage Council and my Department and I am delighted that the expanded 2021 scheme will enable us to work together to support even more towns in their heritage-led regeneration.”

Commenting on the Historic Towns Initiative, Chairman of the Heritage Council, Michael Parsons said: “Programmes such as this rely on the strength of local communities and businesses in caring for their historic town. With support from local and national Government we can use heritage to improve the quality of life in all in our historic towns.”

Heritage Council chief executive, Virginia Teehan, added: “This blending of the old and the new is a key factor in the regeneration of our towns, and this initiative clearly fulfils this objective. Over the past year there have been some outstanding examples where the fusion of community effort, coupled with expertise in the heritage field, have come together with a common purpose.

“We are confident that in the coming year, we will see further examples of projects and initiatives, which improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, while at the same time preserving the integrity of our past.”

A town seeking to benefit from the Historic Towns Initiative should possess significant cultural and heritage assets and have an indicative minimum population of 1,500 inhabitants.    The HTI 2021 is open for applications from local authorities from 11th  December 2020. 

Funding applications must be submitted via the Heritage Council’s online grants system. The closing date is 5th  February 2021.   

The Heritage Council will host an online workshop for local authority personnel interested in applying for the HTI 2021 on 14th  January 2021.

  Applications will be assessed by the HTI National Steering Group, who will make recommendations to the Board of the Heritage Council for funding under the programme.

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