Our Rural Future: €150 million package of supports for rural communities – DRCD Press Release

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Our Rural Future: Minister Humphreys unveils €150 million package of supports for rural communities

  • New €15 million fund to upgrade and refurbish community centres
  • Major focus on Remote Working through initiatives such as Connected Hubs and Town and Village Renewal Scheme
  • Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to tackle vacancy and dereliction
  • Significant investment in our walkways, trails, rivers and lakes under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Fund
  • Over 300 stakeholders attend special online webinar to hear full details of rural funding schemes
  • Unprecedented Investment underpinned by the Our Rural Future and Town Centre First Policies
  • Calendar of all Funding Schemes published to allow Community Groups to plan ahead
  • Focus on ambitious projects which make a lasting impact to Communities


Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today outlined a package of over €150 million designed to transform rural towns, villages and communities throughout 2022.

Hosting a webinar entitled ‘Government Supports for Thriving Rural Areas and Vibrant Communities’, Minister Humphreys detailed the various funding streams within her Department that will revitalise town centres, combat dereliction, promote remote working and enhance our communities.

The event was attended by over 300 stakeholders such as community groups, town teams, development associations and local chambers.


New Community Centre Fund

During the webinar, Minister Humphreys announced the introduction of a new Community Centres Investment Fund 2022.

This new capital Fund will invest €15 million in the upgrade and refurbishment of community buildings across the country so that thousands of people of all ages can benefit.  Under the Fund groups and organisations based in both rural and urban communities can apply for grants ranging from €10,000 to €300,000.

Application forms will be available online in the coming weeks


Announcing the new initiative, Minister Humphreys said:

 “If the Pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that we all have discovered the true meaning of ‘community. That’s why I am delighted today to announce the new ‘Community Centres Investment Fund 2022. I am making available €15 million which will support the refurbishment and upgrade of community buildings across the country. Does your local Community Centre or Parish Hall need an upgrade or facelift? Does your local community need financial support to carry out fire safety or other necessary repair works? Then this Fund is designed to support you. The new Fund will provide grants for small and large-scale projects and help us to provide focal points for communities as they come back together. I will publish details on how local community groups can apply for this funding later this month”


Focus for 2022

During the webinar, The Minister and her officials outlined the details of other investment stream, which are underpinned by ‘Our Rural Future’ and the ‘Town Centre First’ policies

There was a detailed discussion too on the areas the Department will be prioritising investment, such as:

  • Regeneration projects in rural areas that focus on economic growth, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres. The ‘Boyle 2040 Project’ was given as a good example of the type of project that could be replicated. Boyle 2040 was previously allocated €4.3 million under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. The project shows how regeneration funding can be accessed if a locally driven tailored plan is developed;
  • Remote Working and connectivity. This will include further developing the Connected Hubs Network for remote working, adding to the existing 900 free WiFi4EU hotspots around the country, bringing more publicly accessible Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) online.
  • Outdoor Amenities. A continued focus on investing in our unique amenities such as our walkways, trails, lakes, mountains, blueways and greenways. Under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, there will be unprecedented investment in outdoor tourism – supporting activities such as kayaking, cycling, mountaineering, surfing and paragliding.
  • Projects that help communities to bounce back from the pandemic by providing focal points for community activities. This will be done under the likes of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the new Community Centre Investment Fund.


The Minister spoke about Government’s vision for rural areas and communities across the country:

“It is now almost a full year since I launched Our Rural Future, the Government’s policy for rural development, which sets out the most ambitious set of objectives for rural development in the history of the state. I also recently had the pleasure of launching the Town Centre First Policy, which will tackle vacancy and combat dereliction. Together, these two strategies and the funding that under-pins them, will revitalise town centres, keep jobs in rural areas, support adventure tourism and the green economy. Above all, they will make our towns and villages better places to live, work, and raise a family. Today I have also published the calendar for all our funding schemes for 2022 so that community groups and local authorities can plan ahead and use all of these funding streams to deliver maximum in our rural towns, villages and parishes.

There was significant investment in rural communities last year with €106 million in rural regeneration funding approved, €70 million provided under the transitional LEADER programme and €73 million allocated to the first ever Rural Active Travel Programme.

This level of investment along with remote working and broadband initiatives demonstrates the Government’s commitment to rural Ireland.


Minister O’Brien said:

“The capital funding programmes outlined today, including the newly announced Community Centres Investment Fund, are complemented by a suite of ongoing and planned current funded programmes which play a large part in supporting those living in communities, and in many cases ensuring that it is possible for people to engage with these capital supports. There is little point in having great infrastructure if there are not the people using those facilities to deliver the many community & voluntary programmes and schemes across the country. That is why I am committed to supporting the Community & Voluntary sector to maximise its impact in communities throughout Ireland.”


Speaking about her Department’s investment package for this year, Minister Humphreys said:

“Today I have provided a schedule for all my Department’s funding programmes for the year. This includes key dates for applications and guidance on the types of projects that will receive support. My message to everyone today is that the funding is available – so identify good projects, make your applications strong and get them into my Department. In 2022, we want to continue to invest in top-class projects up and down the country to support thriving rural areas and create vibrant communities.”



Contact: The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office, 01-7736843 / 086-791 2704, Press.office@drcd.gov.ie


Note to editors:


Timetable for rural and community investment programmes

Rural Development Schemes
2022 Open 2022 Closing
Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF)


Supports large-scale, ambitious projects which can achieve sustainable economic and social development in rural areas.


More information available at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/05bfe-rural-regeneration-and-development-fund/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/en/service/c5849b-rural-funding/?section=rural-regeneration-and-development


Category 1 – currently open (Large-scale capital projects which are ready to commence on the date of application).


Category 2 – To open in August

(Seed capital funding for

strategic, large-scale projects)

Closes on 29th April







Category 2, closes in Q 4

Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais (CLÁR)


Provides funding for small-scale infrastructural projects in rural areas.


  • Measure 1: Developing Community Facilities & Amenities (MUGAs, Playgrounds, etc)
  • Measure 2: Mobility, Cancer Care and Community First Responders Transport
  • Measure 3: “Our Islands”


More information available at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/c5849b-rural-funding/?section=small-scale-rural-projects-clar




Opened 24th February


Measure 1 & Measure 3, close on 6th May


Measure 2, closes on 8th April



Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS)


Provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure. (Adventure Tourism type projects, Blueways, Walking Trails, Boardwalks, etc)


  • Measure 1 for small scale projects requiring funding of up to €30,000,
  • Measure 2 for medium scale projects with funding of up to €200,000,
  • Measure 3 for large scale projects seeking funding of up to €500,000, and
  • Project Development Measure funding of up to €50,000 for development costs for strategic large scale projects.


More information available at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/d14e1-outdoor-recreation-infrastructure-scheme/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/en/service/c5849b-rural-funding/?section=outdoor-recreation-infrastructure-scheme







Opened 18th February




Measure 1 & Project Development Measure to close on 19th April


Measure 2 & Measure 3 to close on 25th May

Town and Village Renewal Scheme Connected Hubs Call


Development of remote working facilities joining the National Connected Hubs Network


More information available at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/16b47-connected-hubs-fund/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/en/service/c5849b-rural-funding/?section=connected-hubs-fund



Opened 21st February



Closes on 4th April

Local Improvement Scheme


Provides funding to help local authorities carry out improvement works on private and

non-publicly maintained roads


More information available at



Allocations to Local Authorities in March



Managed by Local Authorities

Town and Village Renewal Scheme – Streetscapes


Support the enhancement of streetscapes and shopfronts


Information available when launched


Scheduled to open end of March

Managed by Local Authorities in consultation with communities, town teams and businesses
Town and Village Renewal



Designed to rejuvenate small rural towns and villages. (Regeneration of old buildings, development of town parks, etc)


More information available at




Scheduled to open in April



Closes end of June





Social Enterprise Schemes

2022 Open 2022 Closing
Dormant Accounts Fund Social Enterprise – Capital Supports


Provides capital grants for the scaling up of social



More information on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/624c74-social-enterprise/#funding-and-supports-for-social-enterprises



Scheduled to open in early May



Closes in late June



Community Schemes

2022 Open 2022 Closing
Community Centres Investment



An annual capital grants programme for the maintenance, improvement and upkeep of community centres.


More information on launch



Scheduled to open in March


Category 1 closes on 30th June


Category 2 & 3 close on 31st July

Empowering Communities Fund


A new targeted scheme to address area based disadvantage


More information on launch


Scheduled to open end April

Community Activities Fund


Small scale grants to assist community groups


More information on launch


Operated by LCDCs


Closing dates vary – contact your LCDC





Our Rural Future

Our Rural Future is the whole-of-government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025. It represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development policy for Ireland and adopts a more strategic, ambitious and holistic approach to investing in and maximising opportunities for rural areas.


Town Centre First

Town Centre First is a major new policy that aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.


Town Centre First contains 33 unique actions which will give our towns the tools and resources they need to become more viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business.


The policy is underpinned by multi-billion euro investment spread across major Government schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF), the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.




The roll-out of Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) to rural towns and villages is a key commitment under Our Rural Future. BCPs are publicly accessible sites in areas that do not have adequate broadband services.

They are located in the likes of community centres, libraries, parish halls, and sports clubs. BCPs provide onsite use of high-speed broadband by the public and support a range of digitally enabled services, such as remote work and study.



Connected Hubs Network

One of the commitments provided in the five-year policy is to establish a comprehensive and integrated national network of 400 Remote Working Hubs over the lifetime of the policy (to include a central booking platform for Connected Hub user’s).


The National Connected Hubs network was launched in May 2021 and initially had some 60 hubs onboarded onto the connected hubs.ie platform. This has grown substantially and there are now over 200 hubs live on the connect hubs.ie platform.


Connected Hubs Fund 2022

The primary objective of the Connected Hubs Call, which is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, is to support and complement the development of the National Hub Network, which is a key action of the Rural Development Policy – Our Rural Future and also the National Remote Working Strategy – Making Remote Work.


The Connected Hubs 2022 Call aims to add additional capacity to the existing remote working infrastructure in Ireland by upgrading existing hubs and Broadband Connection Points (BCPs), while continuing to support COVID-19 mitigation measures.


In July, 2021, Minister Humphreys announced €8.8 million that supported 117 remote working projects across the country.


Connected Hubs Mobile App

The launch of the connected hubs mobile app will allow users to find their nearest hub facility and easily book a desk space using their mobile device. The Connected Hubs mobile app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android.


Revised National Development Plan

The revised National Development Plan setting aside a total of €850 million for capital investment in rural development projects to 2025.



Boyle Regeneration

This significant town regeneration project will undertake a series of linked projects, including the refurbishment and conversion of the old Royal Hotel into an Enterprise Centre, exhibition space, information point and coffee dock and the creation of a new riverside promenade, which will link the town centre to key tourism attractions using the river, e.g. King House, Boyle Abbey.


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