Historic Towns Initiative
Historic Towns Initiative
What You Need to Know
What is the Historic Towns Initiative?
The Historic Towns Initiative (HTI) 2020 is a joint undertaking by the Department and the Heritage Council. It builds upon the successful HTI 2018 and 2019 initiatives, which funded regeneration projects in twelve towns across the country.
Now in its third year, the aim of this project is to promote the heritage-led regeneration of Ireland’s historic towns.
The HTI builds on a pilot phase undertaken between February 2013 and June 2014 in three towns: Listowel, Co. Kerry, Westport, Co. Mayo and Youghal, Co. Cork.
How much funding is available?
The Department has committed €1 million to the HTI for 2020.
What towns have received funding?
Listowel, Co. Kerry, Westport in Co. Mayo and Youghal in Co. Cork were the first three recipients of funding from the HTI in 2013/14. This was a pilot project.
Following the national roll-out in 2018, a further six towns shared €1 million funding. The towns to receive funding were Portlaoise, Co. Laois; Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo; Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary; Youghal in Co. Cork; Kilmallock, Co. Limerick and Kells, Co. Meath.
In 2019, funding was allocated to Kilrush Co. Clare; Letterkenny in Co. Donegal; Ballina, Co. Mayo; Navan, Co Meath;, Boyle, Co. Roscommon and Nenagh in Co. Tipperary.
How is funding allocated?
Each local authority is invited to apply in respect of one historic town with an indicative minimum population of 1,500 inhabitants. Priority is given to projects that are ‘plan-led’ and likely to make a meaningful contribution to the heritage-led regeneration of the town. Local authorities must match any contribution awarded under the scheme.
What are the benefits to the towns?
The internationally recognised practice of heritage-led regeneration shows that heritage can be used to create a desirable place where people can live, visit and do business. Heritage-led regeneration brings economic benefits enabling our historic towns to prosper through increased visitor numbers and decreased numbers of vacant buildings and commercial premises.
What work has been done in successful towns?
From upgrading shop fronts along a main street to the regeneration of historic sites, the work of the HTI varies greatly from town to town.
In Ballina, County Mayo, funding secured under the Historic Towns Initiative 2019 for conservation works allowed for small-scale labour-intensive conservation works in the Pearse Street Architectural Conservation Area in the heart of the town centre.
In Market Square in Navan works were undertaken to the St Laurence Hotel and the Meath Chronicle Building to rejuvenate, repair and refurbish the facades of these important buildings.
On Church Lane in Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter, a vital artery linking Main Street with Cathedral Square, conservation works were undertaken at seven properties, contributing to the overall quality and character of the historic streetscape.
The HTI funding provided an opportunity to complete certain essential maintenance works to buildings on the south side of Main Street in Boyle with matching funding from Roscommon County Council and the property owners. Main Street is now being returned to its original grandeur for people to see and enjoy.
The Nenagh Gaol complex, built in 1839-1842, was designed with seven cell blocks radiating out from a central hub. The South Cell Block, which was the subject of this HTI project, is the last remaining block of the seven and was in a vulnerable state for many years and in danger of dereliction. The grant funding allowed for essential conservation works to take place and as a result the building is now secured.
The Turret Lodge in Kilrush, which is owned by Clare County Council, was built in 1845. Prior to this project it was derelict and exposed to the elements. The project involves the refurbishment of the Turret Lodge to provide for its re-use as a Heritage and Genealogical Centre.