Substantial government funding awarded for community monuments in Westmeath

Pictured, l-r, are Fine Gael Councillor, Tom Farrell, Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke and Seamus McDermott

Pictured, l-r, are Fine Gael Councillor, Tom Farrell, Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke and Seamus McDermott

Local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has confirmed the award of grants for a wide range of archaeological heritage projects in Westmeath under the Department’s 2022 Community Monuments Fund.

In total, eight projects within the county have been allocated significant funding totalling €435,000 in a significant chunk of the overall investment of €6 million.

The core objective of the Community Monuments Fund is to support the conservation, maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites.

Some of the key beneficiaries in Westmeath are St. Owen’s Church Ballymore, Kilbixy Leper Hospital Ballynacargy, Killefree Church Castlepollard and Monasset Tower House in Tyrrellspass, all in receipt of the maximum award of €85,000.

Smaller amounts have been awarded under Stream 2, with Westmeath again having four successful projects – Killare Church (€27,000 ), Griffinstown Church (€24,000 ) Templecross Church, Ballynacargy (€24,000 ) and St. Feichin’s Well in Fire (€19,000 ).

Minister Peter Burke says the number of successful projects is a testament to strong applications made by local voluntary groups in conjunction with Westmeath County Council.

“Along with Athlone-Moate Municipal District Councillor Tom Farrell, I met with groups involved in the scheme, including the St Owen’s Restoration Committee in Ballymore and heard first-hand the work that goes into these applications and the voluntary hours spent by the community in the upkeep and the restoration of St Owen’s which is an iconic building on our doorstep.

“Many of these buildings are steeped in history and draw significant amount of tourists annually to rural Westmeath locations. It’s imperative we support these buildings, along with our County Council, and do not let our history and a part of our culture fall into ruin,” Deputy Burke asserted.

The Grants include works for a number of different measures aimed at enabling conservation works to be carried out on archaeological monuments which are deemed to be significant and in need of urgent support, encouraging community and tourist access to archaeological monuments and improving their presentation and also building resilience in archaeological monuments to enable them to withstand the effects of climate change.

“These awards help us to deliver on various commitments under Heritage Ireland 2030, the new national heritage plan launched earlier this year. It will provide further supports for communities and custodians and the heritage sector, for archaeologists, conservation architects, stone masons, and other professional trades.

“The remarkable impact and success of the Community Monuments Fund is a result of the close working relationship between our Department’s National Monuments Service and Local Authorities - the Archaeologists, Conservation Officers, Heritage Officers and planning and administrative staff and partnership with communities- showcasing their valuable role in protecting and promoting Ireland’s heritage. On foot of this weeks’ celebration of heritage through the International Day for Monuments and Sites, otherwise known as World Heritage Day, it is really fitting that such support is shown for our archaeological heritage,” Deputy Burke commented.

Westmeath County Council Heritage Officer, Melanie McQuade additionally welcomed the funding allocation.

“There was some exciting news this week, with the announcement of €434,400 in funding for projects on nine Archaeological Monuments in Westmeath.

“The Community Monuments Fund provides a significant investment in our archaeological heritage and I look forward to collaborating with the owners and community groups who have been awarded funding and to seeing the results of their projects,” Ms McQuade remarked.

 

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