Kildare Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) and County Kildare LEADER Partnership are pleased to announce the signing of the first contracts for LEADER funding under the current programme. The projects are the result of a call for expressions of interest for Rural Tourism Projects.
Building on the success of Athy Boat Tours, Athy Enterprise Centre CLG has been approved for LEADER funding towards Canadian Canoes, bicycles and safety equipment, launching in time for the 2018 summer season. This project comes as interest in outdoor tourism activities surges. Visitors to South Kildare will enjoy new ways to enjoy the local environs and waterways.
Helen Dowling, Manager of Athy Enterprise Centre said “we are delighted to add an innovative new tourism product and new activities in the area and to build on the success of the Athy Boat Tours inititative.
Athy Heritage Centre Museum is to become a specialist Shackleton Museum. A dedicated space is needed to showcase Shackleton’s “sea bedroom”. The cabin was originally part of the Norwegian schooner-rigged steamship, Quest, which Shackleton had acquired for his final voyage to try and clear his debts. The cabin was donated to the museum and transported from Norway. It underwent careful restoration in Letterfrack and is now stored there.
The museum has been approved for LEADER funding to carry out a feasibility study for the overall redevelopment of this key attraction in the heart of the town.
Margaret Walsh, Manager of Athy Heritage Centre, said “we are delighted that our project has been approved for LEADER funding, this is the real starting point of the redevelopment of the Shackleton Museum and is a blueprint for the expansion and enhancement of the Heritage Centre going forward.
These projects are paving the way for more LEADER Tourism and Enterprise applications which will be approved in January and throughout 2018. Brian Kelly, Rural Development Manager with County Kildare LEADER Partnership, commented “signing the first contracts is an important milestone for the programme. This is a completely LEADER new programme with new staff, a new ICT system and new operating rules. A lot of work has happened in the background to get to this stage.”
On the work in progress Brian commented “There has been great interest in the programme over the past number of months and we have been working with very diverse projects to date including community groups, clubs and small businesses. From our 2017 calls we are working with fourteen projects from around the County all at various stages with seven projects going forward for approval in January. We have had a huge expression of interest under our recent call for Community & Youth based projects and bio-diversity, water resources and broadband. We also have a further call opening in March for enterprise and tourism projects.
The funding timeline has been in the media recently. The LEADER Programme requires very high standards in compliance and oversight. “We are committed to best practice in Kildare as we are dealing with public funds. The role of the LCDC and County Kildare LEADER Partnership is very important in that task. We stand over the transparency and fairness of the process. The result is investment in sustainable and viable projects. We believe that this is in the best interests of communities.”
The LEADER programme has been supporting communities and business in County Kildare for over 20 years. Under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2014, 232 projects were supported with €8.2 million in LEADER grant aid. Projects supported have ranged in size from small to large flagship projects. Sectors supported include farm diversification, enterprise, rural tourism, heritage, town and village renewal, community facilities and amenities, renewable energy and environmental projects.
For further information on the Rural Development Programme contact us on 045 895450.