Six towns and villages in Clare have received just under €800,000 funding to help local communities adapt to life under Covid-19 restrictions.

The funding was announced by Clare TD Joe Carey this morning as part of the Government Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2020. The local projects are among 147 towns and villages that will benefit from funding of totalling more than €15.4 million.

Welcoming the significant funding for local projects, Deputy Carey said: “The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is a vital resource for local communities to draw from and significant investment has been made in towns and villages throughout County Clare through this scheme in recent years. It’s more important than ever to assist local communities and businesses to address the challenges that Covid-19 has brought to our towns and villages.

“These six projects will provide a very welcome boost to our local communities as we adjust to life under Covid-19. These are difficult times, of course, but measures such as these will enhance our communities and give us some of the tools we need so that life can continue as close to normal as possible under the circumstances.”

A total of €779,242 has been allocated to the following local projects under the  Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2020:

*Newmarket-on-Fergus: €200,000 funding for Obair Newmarket On Fergus to regenerate a derelict building on main street. The project will see the construction of a production kitchen, cooking enterprise hubs, a commercial cookery school, holistic space and office suites and a youth cafe. The project will help make Newmarket On Fergus to be a more sustainable village in which to live, work and socialise.

*Kilfenora: €200,000 funding for development of a Universal Access Centre of Discovery for the Burren told through the five senses – sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell. Universal Access will increase capacity to cater for a wider audience and enhance the overall tourism offering.

*Lisdoonvarna: €90,242 funding for a project that will provide a 2km, universally accessible, looped heritage and biodiversity trail through community owned parklands and the town centre incorporating wellness, exercise, recreation, culture and historical interpretation.

*Clooney: €99,000 funding to interconnect the different areas of Clooney village to provide necessary public realm infrastructure and create an enhanced sense of place.

*Barefield: €90,000 funding towards the construction of 450m of combined cycle/footpath to link both ends of the village. This project includes includes traffic calming, crossings, drainage and landscaping. A three-metre wide footpath/walkway will facilitate a greater level of walking and cycling to the village facilities in particular the school. This, in turn, will result in less people gathering in smaller spaces and provide the local community an environment where social distancing is easily achieved.

*Parteen: €100,000 to install a 400m footpath/cyclepath on Kilquane Drive (aka ‘School Road’ / L-3060) linking Parteen Village and Larkin’s Cross.

Deputy Carey praised the huge efforts of local community leaders and volunteers who have played such a positive role in delivering these vital projects. He paid tribute to the “trojan work” done by Obair Manager Siobhan O’Driscoll and her team in expanding their meals on wheels operation which now provides 160 meals per day to communities throughout County Clare. The new training centre for chefs which has been allocated funding will be delivered in conjunction with Limerick Institute of Technology.

Deputy Carey also praised the community in Kilfenora for putting a badly needed redevelopment plan in place for the Burren Centre, which will now benefit from €200,000 in today’s round of Town and Village funding.

Deputy Carey warmly praised the efforts of Cllr John Crowe and the local community in Parteen, along with Cllr Joe Garrihy and the Lisdoonvarva Fáilte organisation who pushed their community-led projects through difficult times. The Clare TD also hailed the efforts of local community groups in Barefield and Clooney, who were both granted significant funding to invest in their local infrastructure.

The local Fine Gael TD added: “I would also like to pay tribute to Leonard Cleary and his team at Clare County Council for making these fantastic community projects a priority. This funding from the Department of Rural & Community Development will give a timely and very welcome boost to our communities who are showing such positive leadership through adversity. They are providing the type of initiative and inspiration that will ensure our communities will survive and thrive during these extremely challenging times.”