Open Call 2021

Revitalising the North-West – O’Brien announces €61.4 million for Regeneration Projects

  • Letterkenny project to create creative design hub, transformation of historic courthouse and works for future regional transport hub
  • Sligo projects to create two new libraries, county museum and enhance public realm
  • Investment will provide much needed stimulus during economic recovery

12 March 2021

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, today announced €61.4 million in funding for three regeneration projects in the North-West investment region. The projects are being funded under ‘Call 2’ of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). The URDF part-funds projects aimed at enhancing urban areas to make them more attractive places in which to live, work, visit and invest.

The projects for which URDF support have been approved are:

  • Letterkenny 2040 Phase 1 (Donegal County Council) – €13.60 million
  • City Campus – Sligo’s Cultural and Learning Hub (Sligo County Council) – €28.68 million
  • Implementation of Sligo Public Realm (Sligo County Council)

€19.16 million

The Department will now contact the local authorities on the next steps regarding funding. The projects announced today will augment the existing pipeline of 87 URDF-supported projects across the country for which just under €300 million has already been allocated. Today’s announcement brings the total approved URDF funding for this investment region to date to €72.82 million. Details of the remaining provisional funding allocations for ‘Call 2’ URDF projects in other Project Ireland 2040 investment regions, not already announced, will be announced next week.

All selected projects support the National Planning Framework’s ‘national strategic outcome’ of compact growth, a particular focus of the second call for URDF proposals. The URDF aims to facilitate a greater proportion of residential and commercial development, supported by infrastructure, services and amenities, within the existing built-up areas of larger urban settlements.

Announcing the provisional allocations this morning, Minister O’Brien said: “This funding will support projects in Donegal and Sligo that will enhance quality of life for many people. The projects are all about making these areas more attractive places in which to live, work, visit and invest.

“These projects can help to revitalise Letterkenny and Sligo Town. Letterkenny will see new spaces created for a range of uses, included an enterprise space at the historic courthouse. The new spaces to be created for cycling and pedestrians support the Government’s aims of more sustainable transport and low-carbon living in our cities and towns. Sligo’s public realm project will not only enhance the quality of life for people who live, work and visit the town but should help attract investment in developing existing brownfield sites. The project for Sligo’s cultural and learning hub is an example of the URDF funding a project that will develop under-utilised land to bring opportunity and new vibrancy to a place.

“Overall, I believe this funding can be a catalyst for regeneration, development and growth. It will also provide much-needed economic stimulus and job creation in Donegal and Sligo as our economy emerges from the depths of the pandemic.”  

The Minister added: “Compact growth was the focus of this round of URDF funding. The projects the Government is funding are geared towards sustainable growth of our urban settlements, supported by jobs, houses, services and amenities, as envisaged by the National Planning Framework. As well as compact growth, the fund supports our other national planning aims. In that sense the URDF is a unique approach to Government funding. Whilst many Government-funded programmes are for specific types of projects, the URDF funds a diverse set of integrated projects with integrated aims. I look forward to working with Donegal and Sligo County Councils to progress these important projects.”

Minister O’Brien concluded: “I understand there will be some disappointment in terms of projects which were unsuccessful. My Department will engage with local authorities and provide feedback in respect of unsuccessful proposals.”

The projects were chosen after a rigorous assessment process, overseen by a project advisory board consisting of Government departments, State agencies and national and international experts in areas such as building, architecture and planning. In total, the department received 76 project proposals. Each local authority submitted at least one application. Today’s announcement honours the Programme for Government commitment to continue the URDF.


Note to editors

Donegal County Council project

Letterkenny 2040 Phase 1 project – €13.60 million

‘Letterkenny 2040 Phase1’ is a transformative urban regeneration project with a series of inter-related regeneration measures in Letterkenny Town Centre. It is a strategic step in Letterkenny’s longer term regeneration goal to transform the core of the regional cross-border centre as a ‘Place for People and Public Life.’ It builds on the ‘Call 1’ funded project, which involved a Masterplan and site assembly works.

This project consists of five inter-related elements:

  • The Cathedral Quarter: these works involve site assembly, design and capital works, including a ‘Creative Design Hub’ together with green urban parkland
  • Renewal at Lower Main Street: site assembly to enable future integrated renewal of Main Street
  • Revival of the Courthouse: new enterprise space blended with a tourist attraction in the revived historic Courthouse
  • Regional Transport Hub: site assembly to enable future development of a regional transport hub
  • Letterkenny Green Connect: site assembly to enable cycling and pedestrian space

URDF funding for Donegal:

The €13.60 million in approved funding is in addition to €1.94 million in approved funding for the ‘Call 1’ project, ‘Letterkenny 2040’.

Total URDF funding approved to date: €15.54 million 

Sligo County Council projects

City Campus – Sligo’s Cultural and Learning Hub – €28.68 million

The vision for this area is for it to become a new cultural centre of Sligo Town. This is to happen through the strategic transformation, regeneration and redevelopment of an under-utilised and semi-derelict block of land in the town’s centre. The project will be an exemplar flagship project for the region that will embrace SMART Cities’ technologies and innovative practices. It will also use environmentally sustainable construction practices and materials during all phases of its development, thus assisting with the transition to a low-carbon resilient society.

This project involves the following elements:

  • site assembly in key locations
  • master planning for the ‘City Campus Project’
  • new mixed-use buildings – to include a new county library, IT Sligo academic library, offices and enhanced public realm
  • development of a new county museum through conservation, refurbishment, and extension of the existing library building

Implementation of Sligo’s Public Realm – €19.16 million

This a strategic, transformative project designed to regenerate and rejuvenate the town and promote its sustainable and compact growth. It is an ambitious and transformative plan that will greatly increase pedestrian mobility, enhance the sense of place and create a more liveable town centre, with the potential to attract further investment towards the development of several brownfield sites. 

This project consists of complementary sub-projects that are follow-on capital works from the master planning and design stage works of the ‘Call 1’ project:

  • Sligo Town Public Realm: enhancement works
  • Market Cross: the creation of an attractive usable public open space in the heart of the town
  • Centre Block enabling measures: the finalisation of the Centre Block Master Plan and site assembly works to facilitate the inclusion of a cultural flagship project in this new quarter of the town
  • Quay Street Car Park: the redevelopment of car park into a new public space
  • Markievicz Bridge: the construction of a footbridge to aid pedestrian circulation around the town
  • Old Market Street/Teeling Street junction – enhancement of this junction to create a gateway entrance to the town centre from the south east
  • Implementation of a ‘Wayfinding and Interpretation Strategy for Sligo’: the aim is to enhance the visitor experience and improve wayfinding around Sligo Town Centre. Implementation will address both interpretation as well as orientation.

URDF funding for Sligo:

The €47.84 million in approved funding is in addition to €9.44 million in approved URDF funding for four ‘Call 1’ projects: ‘Eastern Garavogue Bridge’; ‘O’ Connell Street Enhancement’; ‘Sligo Cultural Plaza’ and ‘Sligo Public Realm’.  

Total URDF funding approved to date: €57.29 million 

Analysis of the North-West region’s needs

The North-West is spatially unique within the island of Ireland due to its extensive coastline and its proximity to Northern Ireland. Historically, the North- Western part of the island has demonstrated significant resilience in competing for investment. Enhancing the urban structure of this region is key to sustaining and supporting its continued development, particularly with respect to North-South co-operation, exemplified by the North-West Growth Partnership.

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

  • The URDF is one of four funds established under the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027. It has an allocation of €2 billion to 2027. Its aim is to support more compact and sustainable development in Ireland’s five cities and other large urban areas. Funding is aimed at projects that support the NDP objectives and the NPF’s ten ‘national strategic outcomes’, which include compact growth; enhanced regional accessibility; and sustainable mobility. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is responsible for administering the URDF.   

The seven chosen projects are consistent with the Northern and Western Regional Assembly’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.

  • Through the URDF, successful applicants receive targeted, integrated funding for innovative solutions to issues that have hindered urban regeneration and rejuvenation. The fund part-funds projects that will deliver a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development within the existing built-up footprints of cities and large towns.
  • The URDF’s significant capital investment acts as a catalyst for wider regeneration, development and growth. The IDA has already acknowledged the URDF’s important role in creating a sense of place, something considered essential for increasing Ireland’s attractiveness to foreign investment and strengthening opportunities for indigenous enterprise.
  • URDF ‘Call 1’ funding: The URDF is already providing assistance for major regeneration projects in Ireland’s larger urban areas. Under ‘Call 1’ of the URDF, 87 projects are being funded. Details were announced in November 2018. These projects are spread across the regions and span a number of the NPF’s objectives. The total provisional allocations to date in respect of these 87 projects is just under €300m.
  • URDF ‘Call 2’ funding: a second call for funding proposals was announced in January 2020. It focused on (1) integrated urban developments (2) strategic development areas combining a number of elements and (3) schemes that support wider climate action objectives and quality of life factors within cities and towns. Projects aim to deliver compact growth whilst ensuring more of our urban areas become attractive and vibrant places in which to live, work, visit and invest.
  • More information on the URDF is available at: 

EU New Forest Strategy: FREE online briefing on Thursday 11th March at 1pm

To create a new EU Forest Strategy the EU Commission has asked governments, forestry organizations and others for their submissions. Now it is asking the public to make theirs.

The public consultation will continue until the 19th April 2021. The EU has laid out a broad plan as to what it thinks the strategy needs to contain to plan for the forests of the future:

The strategy will foster:

  • Afforestation and tree planting by setting out a roadmap for planting at least three billion additional trees in the EU by 2030, as announced in the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, in full respect of ecological principles, contributing to climate neutrality, the circular economy and biodiversity.
  • Adaptation of forests to climate change and strengthening their resilience to face future challenges, including through enhanced conservation and use of the genetic diversity of trees.
  • New training, skills and jobs that reflect the multiple functions of forests.
  • Rural development, including local enterprises and value chains, tapping on forests’ multiple functions.
  • Innovative forest-based services and products with low environmental impact, replacing carbon-intensive counterparts.
  • A strong research and innovation agenda to improve our knowledge of forests and to optimise their composition, structure, management and use, including for the bio-economy.

Ireland has had a poor forestry record entering the 20th century with less than 1% of its’ land with tree cover. Today we have 11% tree cover against an EU average of 43%. We have not met our own forestry targets in any of the years of the current Irish Government forestry plan. EDIC Sligo is to hold a free online briefing on Thursday 11th March at 1pm on how you can make a submission on the new EU Forestry Strategy to ensure that the new EU Forestry Strategy has a framework that will answer Irish needs.

You can register for a ticket on eventbrite at

The Word with Writer & Broadcaster, Sinéad Gleeson. FREE EVENT ON ZOOM

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2021 6:30PM

Online event.

Sinéad Gleeson’s debut collection of essays: Constellations: Reflections from Life was published in April 2019 by Picador. It has been sold to various countries, including France, Germany and the US, where it will be published in March 2020 by HMH Books.

Previously her essays have been published in Granta, Winter Papers (edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith) Gorse , Elsewhere: A Journal of Place, Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons and Banshee.

A forthcoming essay has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for their Essay slot and will be broadcast this Autumn. Sinéad’s short stories appear in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, May 2019), Repeal the 8th, The Broken Spiral and Looking at the Stars and her poetry has featured in the anthologies Autonomy, Washing Windows? Irish Women Write Poetry and Reading the Future. (both Arlen House).

There will be a discussion following the reading.

Music on the night will be provided by Sive.

Sive is a songwriter and musician dubbed ‘one of the most inspiring and exciting artists of our time’ by Female First UK. Combining haunting, multi-layered vocals with delicately woven musicality and charm, Sive has carved a truly compelling style of alt-folk that is not afraid to differentiate from the norm. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, Sive released her album The Roaring Girl to critical acclaim in 2017. She followed this with live shows across Ireland, Europe and New Zealand, sharing stages with the likes of Lisa Hannigan, Kila and Mick Flannery along the way, and winning the audience choice vote to appear on RTE’s Other Voices. In 2018, Sive started working with Veta Music and recorded a series of songs in their studio space in Berlin. The resulting self-titled EP was released in May 2019, receiving praise from music critics both at home and abroad. Despite the restrictions that came with 2020, it proved a busy year – in March, Sive set up a social enterprise called Embrace Music which went on to provide over 40 live stream music sessions for nursing homes and older people caring for loved ones at home during lockdown. At the same time, she continued to work on new material for her next album, which is due for release in autumn 2021.

The popular open mic session will follow the post-reading interview.

Open Mic

The Open Mic will be Limited to eight attendees of the ZOOM event, with three minutes per person.

If you are interested in performing in the Open Mic, please email, NO LATER THAN TUESDAY, 30TH OF MARCH. **Limited Space**

This event will be Streamed on Facebook on the night.

The Word is a collaboration between Sligo Central Library and the BA in Writing & Literature at IT Sligo. There is no charge for this event. 0719111675

The Word: Upcoming Episodes:

  • April 2021: with Una Mannion, A Crooked Tree
  • May 2021: with Lucy Caldwell, All The Beggars Riding

Sligo Library_World Book Day_Story Time

Local Enterprise Week 1st -5th March #Work Matters

Sligo Library and Work Matters week of Online Presentations on Sligo Library Facebook and Youtube channels.

Interview 1

Monday March 1st Interview at 2 pm

Garrett Crowley of LEO Sligo interview for Work Matters Enterprise Week

Garrett Crowley, of the Local Enterprise Office Sligo in a recorded interview with Maeve McCormack, for Work Matters in Sligo Libraries. Garrett will outline the supports available to entrepreneurs from the Sligo Local Enterprise Office. Each county in Ireland has one Local Enterprise Office and the network and its activities are supported by the European Regional Development Fund. Work Matters is a library initiative that seeks to assist entrepreneurs and job seekers by providing facilities in each library to support them and signposting other services that can assist them.

Interview 2

Tuesday March 2nd interview at 2PM.

Jean Gilligan, Springboard+ at IT Sligo, interview for Work Matters during Enterprise Week

Jean Gilligan, Springboard+ at IT Sligo, in a recorded interview with Maeve McCormack for Work Matters in Sligo Libraries.  Jean details the educational supports available to entrepreneurs from the Springboard+ programme in IT Sligo. The Springboard+ programme opens for applications in late May/early June annually. IT Sligo will publish a list of Springboard+ approved programmes once applications are open. In 2020 IT Sligo offered a record number of funded places across 25 approved courses from Marketing to ICT and Computing courses to Biopharma, Health Science, Quality, Civil Engineering, Occupational Safety & Health. Springboard+ is part funded by the European Social Fund as part of the ESF programme for employability, inclusion and learning 2014-2020. Work Matters is a library initiative that seeks to assist entrepreneurs and job seekers by providing facilities in each library to support them and signposting other services that can assist them.

Interview 3

Wednesday March 3rd Interview at 2pm

Josephine McGread, MSLETB Adult Education Guidance Service, for Work Matters during Enterprise Week

Josephine McGread, MSLETB Adult Guidance Service, in a recorded interview with Maeve McCormack for EDIC Sligo on the educational supports available to entrepreneurs from the MSLETB Adult Education Guidance Service. The AEGS helps people to make informed education, career and life choices by providing impartial and confidential Guidance Counselling, Information and Support to adults in relation to their education, training and career options. You can meet with a professional Adult Educational Guidance Counsellor or Adult Guidance Information Officer in a confidential setting to discuss your education and training needs.

MSLEBT is part funded by the European Social Fund. Work Matters is a library initiative that seeks to assist entrepreneurs and job seekers by providing facilities in each library to support them and signposting other services that can assist them.

Interview  4

Thursday March 4th interview at 2pm

EYE interview with Maria Deady, Manuel Villagran and Ellen Gunning Work Matters Enterprise Week

EYE or Erasmus for Young entrepreneurs is the European exchange programme for Entrepreneurs. EYE is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other participating countries.

The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The host benefits from fresh perspectives on his/her business and gets the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets. Maria Deady of Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Manuel Villagran are the local contacts for the EYE programme in Ireland and Ellen Gunning has acted as a host for visiting EYE participants.

Work Matters is a library initiative that helps entrepreneurs and job seekers by providing facilities in each library to support them and signposting other services that can assist them.

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Dara Mulvey launches Sligo Libraries new eService TTRS (Touch-type, Read and Spell)

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Dara Mulvey launches Sligo Libraries new eService TTRS (Touch-type, Read and Spell)

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Dara Mulvey was joined in an online launch by Dónal Tinney County Librarian, Library staff, Terri Dunleavy Chairperson Sligo Dyslexia Branch, Teachers and Principals from primary and post-primary schools throughout the county.

In his address at the launch the Cathaoirleach wished Sligo Libraries every success with this new service and said it will be a valuable resource for many Library users.

The Cathaoirleach went on to say “it is particularly timely during this period of COVID-19 restrictions for our Libraries to offer this eService to help people of all ages improve their literacy. Many Library users currently engaged in home schooling and online learning will benefit from free access to this great resource.

Since the start of the pandemic Sligo Libraries have had huge engagement with their online services. Their events and workshops have moved online helping Library users maintain their wellbeing during this difficult time.

Accessing digital newspapers, magazines, eBooks and eLearning has been hugely important and Sligo Library membership continues to grow as a result.

TTRS comes as a valuable addition to these services and I have no doubt it will be a valued and welcome addition. I believe it is a resource that can benefit all ages and is extremely easy to use.”

Michael McConigley, Scoil Naomh Éanna NS Carraroe, Aisling Browne, St. Edward’s NS Ballytianan and Cora Kivlehan Principal Achonry NS all spoke of the benefit this service will be to their pupils, welcomed the free access for users, and thanked the library staff for their work with schools.

Sligo Libraries are delighted to offer free access to this online course for students of all ages. TTRS (Touch-type, Read, Spell) is a multisensory, structured, online course which assists children and adults with reading, spelling and typing skills.
​Designed to benefit all ages, it is especially beneficial to learners with Dyslexia/Dyspraxia/Dysgraphia, students studying English as a second language (ESL), those who wish to improve their literacy skills, those accessing adult literacy programmes, those who wish to improve their memory skills and those who wish to learn to touch type.

TTRS takes a multi-sensory approach to repetition learning. Through the multi-sensory approach, a user hears the words spoken through headphones or speakers, sees the words printed on the screen, and is prompted as to which fingers to press via the on-screen keyboard. Finally, through the sense of touch, they type out the words, harnessing muscle memory in the hands and fingers to learn spelling.
There are different levels and different modules for learners to progress though. Each module is designed to be short in length with regular, positive feedback and Certificates of Completion.

For more details, contact 0719111675 or email

Ireland Reads Day ‘Squeeze a Read’ February 25th

What is Ireland Reads?


Ireland Reads is a new campaign to get the whole country reading this month in the lead up to a national day of reading on Thursday, February 25. Irish libraries have teamed up with publishers, booksellers, authors and others for the campaign which is part of the government Keep Well initiative and aims to celebrate reading and all the benefits it can have for wellbeing and enjoyment. The campaign is asking everyone to ‘squeeze in a read’ on Thursday, February 25.


Why is reading important?


Research shows that reading for pleasure is really important for all of us – no matter our age. For children, of course, it has a huge positive impact on their cognitive development and literacy. For adults, studies have found that reading for pleasure enhances empathy, understanding of the self, and is effective in combatting loneliness. Right now, many of the activities we used to take for granted are not available to us, but you can always enjoy a good book – or a newspaper or magazine. Reading offers a way to escape and keep mentally active, and to lift our mood, and it doesn’t have to be a solitary experience – you can read with your kids of course, or you might use reading to connect with friends and family. Maybe through a book club, or just swapping recommendations.


How can people join in the campaign?


It doesn’t matter how long you read for or what you read, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an avid reader, a reluctant reader, a lapsed reader or a new reader, this campaign is for you. Take the pledge to read at A new website has been set up where the public can pledge to read on ‘Ireland Reads’ Day, February 25th, and check to see how much time has been pledged by the Irish public so far.

Get a book recommendation at #IrelandReads#SqueezeinaRead

Download a book with the Borrowbox app and your Sligo Library Membership number