Longford county has been a hive of activity over the past 12 months or so with planning and development of infrastructure, tourism initiatives and social projects to the fore.
At a recent local authority meeting a presentation on the planning and regeneration work that has been carried out in Co Longford in 2016 was made to members.
Longford Co Council’s Lorraine O’Connor began the presentation by informing those present that regeneration was about bringing economic, social and physical elements in a community together so that the area could be enhanced and utilised to its full potential.
“What we are trying to do is put the infrastructure in place through the various funding that we receive,” she said before providing an example of what this type of work was all about.
“The Greenway is a wonderful example of this and is an important piece of infrastructure in terms of tourism.
“In terms of economic development, the Granard Motte Development Centre is going to create jobs and we feel that this is a flagship development in this region.
“Not only will jobs be created there, spin off jobs will also emerge because of the large number of visitors the centre will bring to the area.”
With regards to the social aspect of procedures, the meeting was told that the local authority is currently working closely with community groups across the county to identify where the gaps are and what type of work needs to be done.
Blueway routes, literary trails and the north Longford rebel trail are all part of the current regeneration of the county with other projects already nearing completion.
“The Royal Canal Trackway from Abbeyshrule to Ballymahon was a huge project that was very much a collaborative effort between the local authority, elected members and local community groups that have worked so hard over the last number of years to bring this project forward,” Ms O’Connor continued.
“We were able to access funding for this year and it is expected that works will be completed in 2017.”
The meeting then heard that plans are already in place too, to develop the Royal Canal from the Westmeath boundary all the way to Killashee, an initiative that will eventually link all the way to Dublin through the neighbouring county.
“In terms of tourism, we expect this project to become a real game-changer for Longford,” added Ms O’Connor before pointing out that the county received €380,000 in funding through the Village Renewal Scheme in 2016.
“This,” she added, “is very important because a lot of the projects put forward in relation to this were done so by community groups”.
Examples given to the meeting in respect of this included the lighting in Lebeen Park in Aughnacliffe and Abbeyshrule Kayaking Access Point.
“When we bring people to our county we want them to see the positive image that we know Longford can portray and we have €100,000 to clean up the Athlone Road as well,” Ms O’Connor added before indicating that €190,000 had also been secured by Longford Co Council from the Rural Recreation Fund.
This funding, the meeting heard will be used for the new Camlin Bridge that will link the rear of the local authority building in Longford town to the Albert Reynolds Peace Park.
REDZ Funding was also secured and it was highlighted during the meeting that Longford received the highest amount of any other county in the region.
“The Corn Hill project and the Corlea Trackway which will form part of the Mid-Shannon Wilderness Park were also enhanced in 2016,”added Ms O’Connor.
“The Corlea Centre is underused so therefore it is imperative that it is developed so that it forms part of the bigger package that will be on offer when the area is developed to its full potential.
“In Longford town, the new 1916 Commemoration Garden was created; it has been a huge success and is bringing visitors to Longford.
“Also recently launched was the Castle Walking Trails which form part of the Center Parcs development and the supports that Longford Co Council can provide to the community in Ballymahon.”
Overall, the local authority secured over €1.5m in 2016 for the regeneration of the county.
“We are now in the process of implementing many of the projects that were started as a result of that money and as we move into 2017, there is much to be done,” said Ms O’Connor.
“This year we are going to see a lot of positive changes throughout Co Longford and there are very exciting times ahead for all of us.”