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New Booklet Celebrates 30 Years of LEADER Programme

Nov 11, 2021 | LEADER News

NRN booklet launch

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, T.D. today launched a booklet produced by the National Rural Network (NRN) which celebrates the success of the LEADER Programme in Ireland over the past 30 years.

The new booklet (see download link below) tells the stories of 72 inspirational LEADER projects located throughout Ireland funded under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020.  Through its ‘bottom up’, locally-led, framework, the LEADER Programme supports the delivery of local development actions which address the overarching needs of rural communities throughout Ireland in an innovative, integrated and inclusive manner. All 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) throughout Ireland and their respective Implementing Partners (IPs) are represented in this publication.

Commenting on the launch of the booklet, the Minister Humphreys said, “LEADER is all about that community-led, bottom up approach. I really believe this publication will help guide future applicants to develop worthy projects that will benefit the community as a whole. “

Dr Shane Conway from the NRN and NUI Galway, said, “Rural Ireland has benefited enormously from the LEADER Programme; not only through capital invested, but more specifically through the enhancement and accumulation of social capital in rural areas. Evidence of social capital or the ‘glue’ that holds communities together, is all too apparent in the projects and initiatives funded under the 2014-2020 LEADER Programme, some of which are outlined in this booklet. For example, the pride and passion for our communities which can be uncovered, when rural towns and villages come together in celebration during festivals such as; The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in Kerry or The Fingal Farmers Festival in Dublin, both funded under the LEADER Theme of Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation. The LEADER Programme’s continued support of such community-led initiatives is now more important than ever as rural areas throughout Ireland adapt, rebuild, and reenergise as part of their COVID-19 recovery response’’.

Dr Maura Farrell also from the NRN and NUI Galway added that “the enterprise opportunities made possible through LEADER funding are also well documented in this booklet, with successful examples, such as Jonathan O’Meara’s innovative Mid Ireland Adventure business in Westmeath, which was nominated for a European Rural Inspiration Award, or Coillte Sláintiúil, a start-up enterprise in South Cork, providing a range of woodland conservation solutions’’.

“The enhancement and protection of the rural environment, its waterway and biodiversity as well as the development of renewable energy is a welcome consideration within the LEADER framework. Funded projects such as The Westport Beekeeper Association in Mayo and The Louth Village Biodiversity Plan are highly beneficial to the environment, but also allow communities to expand their knowledge base around key environmental considerations,” said Dr Farrell.

The booklet can be downloaded free of charge here.

This LEADER booklet was also launched with a LEADER supported project ‘on-the-ground’ in Mountbellew, Co. Galway hosted by the National Rural Network on Thursday, November 11th. This particular community-led LEADER project, initiated and spearheaded by the Mountbellew Heritage and Tourism Network, involved the restoration of an 18th century walled garden in the community. A number of representatives from Mountbellew Heritage and Tourism Network as well as Galway Rural Development were in attendance at this event, including its CEO, Steve Dolan. Speaking at this event, Dr Maura Farrell, Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Geography at NUI Galway working on the National Rural Network Project explains that ‘LEADER support, co-funded by the European Union, provides rural communities such as Mountbellew with the necessary resources and support to enable them to actively engage and direct the local development of their own area. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the LEADER Programme has remained fully operational with Local Development Companies, such as Galway Rural Development, working tirelessly to continue to deliver much needed support and assistance to their communities’.

Mountbellew LEADER Booklet Launch 2021 Image

The case studies featured in this booklet are only a small fraction of the vast array of ventures fund the NRN hopes that the booklet will help future applicants see what is possible through LEADER’s community-led approach to rural development.

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