ALMOST €1 million has been allocated to nine towns and villages in Clare under the latest round of the Government’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has confirmed.
The biggest single allocation of €200,000 went to Newmarket on Fergus for the development of the Tradaree Food Hub while €100,000 was allocated for the conversion of buildings into digital hubs in Kilrush and Kilkee.
Other Clare projects that qualified for funding were the Clarecastle street rejuvenation project (€100,000); the development of two walks in Doonbeg (€64,000); Ennistymon multi-service innovation centre (€100,000); Kildysart pier and camping area (€80,000); Miltown Malbay Community Centre refurbishment  (€100,000); Scariff/Tuamgraney economic gateway (€100,000) and the Cnoc na Gaoithe expansion  in Tulla (€100,000).
Commenting on the Tradaree Food Hub project, Deputy Carey said that this initiative by the Obair organisation includes the redevelopment of a landmark building on the Main Street formerly known as the Tradree Arms into a kitchen training unit for chefs together with a production unit for an enhanced meals on wheels service operated by Obair. 
“This group have match funding of €200,000 which could be used to complete these works. This project is jobs rich and make absolute sense, he said.
Referring to the Clarecastle rejuvenation project, he said that the work being undertaken by the Clarecastle Community Development group included the enhancement of public space based on the 2007 Action Plan for Streetscape Rejuvenation. 
“This will bring the Main Street back to life encouraging businesses to re-open creating and sustaining local employment. The building formerly known as the Coach House has been restored as ‘The Castle – Antiques & Crafts’  and now employs twenty people. The owners have plans for further development on the Main Street creating more employment.
“The Ennistymon project includes the provision of 15 hot desks in the unused building at Fitzpatrick’s supermarket. An injection of funding into this space will create an opportunity for local people to take up employment in Ennistymon.  
“ The Miltown Malbay project includes the redevelopment of the Community Centre for Heritage and Cultural purposes. It is a focal point in the community and a vital part of the Willie Clancy Festival- helping to create and sustain jobs in the local area.
Stating that the Renewal Scheme should have a significant impact on towns and villages, Deputy Carey said that in Clare there was a particular emphasis on projects that have the capacity to support the economic development of town and villages as well as their neighbouring townlands. 
“The scheme will also support improvements to public amenities in our town and village centres, to help make them more attractive places in which to live and work and to visit,” he explained.  
“I want to thank Clare County Council for engaging with local and business communities to identify these projects. Most of the funding will benefit towns and villages, with populations of less than 5,000 people.” 
The national allocation of €21 million by the Department of Rural and Community Development follows the roll out earlier this year of a range of other initiatives to support rural Ireland, including the CLÁR scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure scheme and the Local Improvement Scheme. 
“This is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to making rural Ireland a more vibrant and sustainable place to live. This funding will be put to good use over the coming twelve months for the benefit of communities all over the county,” Deputy Carey concluded.
ABOVE: Deputy Joe Carey with Mayor of Ennis Cllr Paul Murphy and Clarecastle Tidy Towns Chairman Christy Leyden.