The announcement of a new Creative Hub marks an exciting phase in the regeneration of Ballaghaderreen Town centre. Entitled ‘An Bealach’ (The Way), this project is targeting a new way for Ballaghaderreen and for the entire creative sector in the Western Region.
The project is being funded mainly through the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF), which is one key measure of the Department of Rural and Community Affairs for providing capital funding to commence the revival of small rural towns. The project has an overall vision and ambition to revitalise Ballaghaderreen by stimulating the creative sector in County Roscommon and the wider Western Region, while advancing additional economic and social regeneration in the town and catchment area.
‘An Bealach’ is an ambitious and exciting development programme for Ballaghaderreen. The project was initially envisaged in a report prepared for the Western Development Commission in 2017. Working with key partners, An Bealach, together with Roscommon LEADER Partnership and Roscommon County Council, has successfully secured significant investment through the RRDF.
Over the past 18 months, a significant amount of painstaking planning has been underway to get this project to the stage where the direction of the project has moved one step closer. This has been achieved through the willingness of the local Fairs and Markets Committee to provide a significant lease facility for the Town Fairgreen to become the designated location for the project.
A tendering process has been completed to appoint a professional team of designers and an independent panel of assessors has now prepared a recommendation for the Board of Bealach Nua CLG, which is the holding body for the development.
The development also incorporates a further social dimension in that, while the An Bealach project is focussed on building a creative industries hub, it also includes the development of a social innovation and inclusion laboratory, combined with an integrated Family Resource Centre.
The new build will provide a permanent location for Ballaghaderreen Family Resource Centre, enabling innovation of service provision to occur in line with the needs of the community as identified in interagency research of societal needs in the area.
The chair of the company, John Higgins, has expressed his deep appreciation to the Fairs and Markets Committee for their generosity and foresight in allowing the project to develop on a key location in the town centre.
The CEO of Roscommon County Council, Eugene Cummins, and the CEO of Roscommon LEADER Partnership, Martina Earley, have both expressed their delight that this regeneration project is now coming to fruition, which will complement other town regeneration efforts throughout the county.
Local man, Micheal Frain secretary of An Bealach Nua, stated that this project will be a game-changer for Ballaghaderreen and surrounding districts.
An Bealach is also seeking funding for the immediate redevelopment of the former boys’ school at the western approach to the town’s Main Street. This building has been derelict for many years and was recently secured under lease, granted to An Bealach by the Achonry Diocese. In summary, An Bealach is a holistic project involving a whole-of-the-town and catchment area approach, which focuses on integrating economic, infrastructural, social and educational impacts and outcomes. As such, this project is unique in rural Ireland providing dedicated and innovative workspace to nurture and grow social innovators.
Much work and planning remains but the Board of Bealach Nua CLG is currently planning to roll out the next exciting stages of this project in the town, during what promises to be a busy 2021.