Leo Varadkar dropped in to meet members of the Bailieborough Development Association in October 2018 and see for himself the rennovation work being carried out in the old courthouse in Bailieborough.

Over €2.2M for two remote working/tourism hubs

Bailieborough and Ballyconnell to benefit from latest allocations

Over €2.2 million has been allocated to two landmark projects in County Cavan.

Over €1.4 million is to be invested in the former Bailieborough Courthouse, while €795,000 is to be spent on the former Markethouse in Ballyconnell.

Minister for Rural and Community Development and local TD, Heather Humphreys, confirmed the funding this morning (Monday).

The funding, which is being provided under the €1Billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future - the Government’s ambitious new policy for Rural Ireland.

In Bailieborough, the money will be used to redevelop the derelict courthouse site in the town centre as an economic, community and cultural hub.

The project will include a visitor centre and museum, as well as spaces for remote working, a youth facility, cultural events and exhibitions.

The Visitor Centre will tell the story of Bailieborough and the surrounding areas and will be the first Plantation Museum in Ireland.

Meanwhile, €795,000 is to be invested in the former Markethouse in Ballyconnell.

The project will redevelop the building as a community, remote working and tourism hub.

The new hub will help enable the town to capitalise on the natural assets in the area including the UNESCO Marble Arch Caves Geopark and the Shannon Erne Waterway, while also providing essential community services, including the provision of remote working facilities and access to education courses and programmes.

The funding for Co Cavan is part of an overall €75 million package under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund. In total, 24 projects are to benefit nationwide.

A big focus of the fund is providing for remote working, as well as combatting dereliction, increasing the vibrancy of towns and regenerating iconic town centre buildings.

Announcing the funding in Ballyconnell, Minister Humphreys said:

“Both projects will significantly assist in regenerating the town centres through increased tourism and footfall.

“I want to commend Cavan County Council for their excellent applications and I know these projects will be really welcomed by the local communities."

She also referred to the Government's 'Our Rural Future' policy launched just three weeks ago.

“Today we are putting that policy firmly into action and delivering major investment aimed at town centre regeneration and supporting remote working.

“These projects will breathe new life into towns and villages across the country making them attractive and vibrant places for people to live, work, socialise and raise a family.”

Minister Humphreys said she is pleased to see a major focus on remote working, which has become a gamechanger for rural Ireland.

The Minister continued: “These projects will not only enable people to live and work in their community but they will also see iconic town centre buildings given a new lease of life and increase football for local businesses.

“Supporting the development of remote working facilities will give commuters in those areas the choice to work locally rather than spend hours in traffic each day."

Minister Humphreys also said that applications under the Rural Regeneration Fund and enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme will be invited in the coming weeks.

Bailieborough TD Niamh Smyth also welcomed the allocations.

"I am thrilled to see in excess of €7million funding from government to my constituency of Cavan Monaghan. In particular I am delighted to welcome over €1.5 million for the Bridewell Courthouse in Bailieborough, which will see the establishment of the very first Plantation Museum in the country along with a visitors centre, remote working facilities, youth facilities and an exhibition space," she said.

Deputy Smyth also welcomed the money for Ballyconnell.

"This funding is specifically to provide investment and enhancement to restore the integrating of our main streets which for many years have suffered the demise of the traditional hustle and bustle of local businesses. This injection will stimulate our towns to begin the regeneration process and provide new attractions and facilities that will increase footfall and provide attractive venues to encourage new entrepreneurs and businesses to our main streets," she said.

Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilly, also from Bailieborough, also welcomed the news.

Of the Bailieborough element, he said: "The project will significantly assist in regenerating the town centre and support the social and economic development of the town through increased tourism and footfall."

Concluding Senator O'Reilly thanked Minister Humphreys for her support for "this worthy exciting project and Bailieborough Development Association for its ceaseless voluntary work leading to this great day."

Fianna Fail's Brendan Smith also welcomed the funding allocation.

“I welcome the allocation of substantial funding for local projects under the Government’s Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

"This funding will enable the development of tourism facilities and a remote working hub at the Market House, Ballyconnell, with grant aid of €794,700 and the development of a Visitor Centre in Bailieborough, including remote working and youth facilities with grant aid of €1.4million."

He also welcomed funding granted for the development of Enterprise Hub in Carrickmacross (€3.1 million) and an Enterprise Hub in Newbliss (€1.39 million).

"These approvals are very welcome and will enhance considerably local infrastructure and assist in much needed job creation. These decisions reflect the commitments outlined in the government’s recently published rural development policy. I compliment our local authorities in advancing these projects to this stage,” stated Deputy Smith.

Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Aontú's Sarah O'Reilly expressed delight at the funding announcement. She said it would help deliver a "much needed development" for Bailieborough town and its people. "I want to especially thank Minister Heather Humphreys and her department officials for recognising and supporting this brilliant application submitted by Cavan County Council.

"This project will develop a derelict site in the town centre as an economic community and cultural hub that will include a visitor centre, museum, cultural and exhibition spaces. The visitor centre will tell the story of Bailieborough and the surrounding area and will be the first plantation museum of its kind in Ireland.

"The community space will provide essential community services including remote working facilities and youth facilities. The project will significantly assist in regenerating the town centre and support the social and economic development of the town through increased tourisim and footfall."

She paid tribute tot the work of councillors and staff of Cavan County Council, including Director of Services, Brendan Jennings, John Donohoe in community, and development and Nicholas OKane and his team, as well as members of Bailieborough Development Association.

Planning approval for the development was approved in July 2019, on Cllr O'Reilly's first day as then Chair of Bailieborough- Cootehill MD. "The first item on the agenda of the meeting was to approve part VIII planning for Bailieborough Court House. The Part VIII planning was proposed by Cllr Paddy McDonald and seconded by myself.

"The planning Approval enabled Bailieborough Development Association in partnership with Cavan County Council to apply for funding to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to fully finish the project.

"Phase one and phase two of this project have been completed with phase three about to commence - That is to Retain, renovate and restore the former Bridewell and to convert it to new use, to accommodate a multi-purpose Community, Cultural, Tourism and Enterprise Hub," said Cllr O'Reilly.

She added: "It will also include an updated civic space located at the front of the courthouse to accommodate parking, bike stands, street furniture ,planting and lighting.

Following years trying to overcome many obstacles regarding this project, the BDA are on the final furlong to delivering an absolutely beautifully restored building back to the town we wish them the best of luck and a big," concluded Cllr O'Reilly.