The Government has announced €24.4 million in funding for 18 projects as part of its Rural Regeneration and Development scheme.
Funding of more than €2.1m is to be given to convert a heritage building in Kinsale, Co Cork into a public library, while €3.8m has been allocated for a new community building for Murroe-Boher and the surrounding community in Co Limerick.
In total some €1bn in funding will be allocated over the next 10 years for rural communities with a population of fewer than 10,000, as part of the Project Ireland 2040 plan to redevelop Ireland.
Announcing the first successful applicants under the scheme, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he hopes the work carried out through the grants will make rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay, move to or run a business from.
"I am struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted. Projects involving heritage, regeneration and the public realm, greenways, telecommunications, tourism, environment, enterprise, and public transport.
"Some, however, stood out from the pack and they are the ones being awarded today.
"These funds are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners, so if you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference," Mr Varadkar said at an event to launch the initial allocations in Co Sligo earlier today.
More than 290 projects applied for this first stage, with the focus in this round on heritage and tourism, infrastructural improvement, economic development, and rural regeneration.
Some of the successful projects announced at today’s event include:
Údarás na Gaeltachta welcomed the announcement that capital funding in excess of €2.8m has been allocated to projects in the Donegal, Mayo and Galway Gaeltacht including €548,000 to develop an innovation and digital hub in Connemara.
Speaking at the event, which was also attended by Minister of State Sean Canney, Rural Minister Michael Ring said that by 2040 half of this country's population growth will take place outside of Dublin and other major cities and instead will happen in rural areas.
I spent today in Sligo, where I announced the first round of funding under the €1bn Rural Regeneration Fund, including Ireland’s first national surf centre in Strandhill. #Ireland2040 pic.twitter.com/pH2kk5OTUi— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) November 23, 2018
"Rural Ireland is integral to the future development of our country and this Fund will facilitate rural growth and prosperity and will strengthen rural communities.
"The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will provide the impetus for the transformation of hundreds of rural towns and villages over the next ten years," he said.