Co-operation between community groups and Donegal County Council have led to a great improvements in Donegal Town
As visitors are welcomed back to the county, one town in Donegal has shown how community cooperation can really enhance public spaces.
Donegal Town has recently been selected for funding of €250,000 to develop outdoor spaces.
This comes on the back of new signage and heritage banners which were bought thanks to a successful Town and Village Renewal Scheme grant application.
It also coincides with the recent conservation work at the Four Masters Monument and preparations at the Railway Heritage Centre to welcome home the ‘Drumboe’ engine.
Furthermore, huge steps have been taken towards making Donegal Town an age-friendly town.
Mary McGettigan of Donegal Town Community Chamber said: “It is great to see so much happening here in Donegal Town.
“What is really great about this is that everything has been driven by community groups and by Donegal County Council.
“We have the Chamber, the Business Focus Group, the Railway Heritage Centre, our Mayor Pauric Kennedy, and councillors and staff at Donegal County Council.”
The new banners and signs have been put in place and are a great addition to the town. They provide information for tourists and celebrate local history and heritage.
The banners on the Diamond provide great colour and they add to the vibrant atmosphere of the town centre.
This project began life as an application by former Railway Heritage Centre manager Donna Maskery who then asked the Community Chamber to bring the project forward.
Finger signs and information signs also inform tourists and enhance their visitor experience.
Mayor of Donegal Town Pauric Kennedy said: “I am delighted with how beautiful it has all turned out. We are so proud of the Diamond which is the heart of the town.
“It has been a special place where we have had so many celebrations not just for the town but for County Donegal.
“It is great to see the bulk of the businesses open and people starting to move around again.”
The cleaning and repair work on the Four Masters Monument has been a huge talking point in Donegal Town in recent weeks.
Area Roads Officer Mark Sweeney commended everyone involved, including contractor Brendan Brady and council engineer Donal Murphy.
“This project was funded by the money taken in from parking charges in Donegal Town,” he said. “It is a great example of how parking money can go back into the community.”
Mr Sweeney is also involved in plans to implement a one-way traffic system in Donegal Town, a project which will also see widened pavements and increased parking.
Ms McGettigan says these plans, coupled with training currently being undertaken by business owners and staff, will see Donegal Town become an age-friendly town.
“We have 39 businesses signed up already,” said Ms McGettigan. “The first stage is to get age friendly training. We are hoping that more people will sign up.”
The enhancement of outdoor spaces at the Diamond and at Donegal Town pier is a big part of the overall plan for Donegal Town.
Joy Harron of Donegal County Council said: “Donegal Town attracts both domestic and international visitors. The town has great potential to develop further in the coming years in relation to enhanced outdoor spaces. Donegal County Council is working in collaboration with the Donegal Chamber, Donegal Business Focus Group and a wide range of other local stakeholders on a number of projects to develop the public realm in Donegal Town.
“The restoration of the Monument in Donegal Diamond and the installation of new lighting, banners and signage have already greatly improved the atmosphere of the Diamond area. There is scope to continue to maximise the potential of Donegal Town and Donegal County Council is working collaboratively with stakeholders on a number of other initiatives to further improve the public realm.
“Donegal County Council produced a Situation Analysis Report in 2020 to examine the current situation in relation to Donegal Town Pier. The Pier has seen a huge increase in activity in recent years, in particular around watersports. As a result of this Situation Analysis Report it was decided that a Masterplan for Donegal Town Pier should be produced, which will inform the future development of the area.
“More recently, Donegal County Council has begun preparations for submitting an application to the Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 under the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to further develop the Donegal Diamond by securing €250,000 in funding for an innovative capital project that will see the continued transformation of the Donegal Diamond into a public space that will support the recovery of the creative, cultural, entertainment and events sector, as well as delivering benefits for tourism, the hospitality sector and the local community.
Donegal County Council also applied for Donegal Town to join the URBACT Playful Paradigm network, an innovative EU funded project based on sharing knowledge and ideas around enhancing outdoor space for promoting social inclusion, healthy lifestyles & energy awareness, intergenerational & cultural mediation, place-making & economic prosperity. This application has been successful and Donegal Town will now join Cork City, Sligo, Rathdrum, Rush and Portlaoise in joining this exciting network.
“Communication, collaboration and engagement with a wide range of local stakeholders in all of this work are priorities for Donegal County Council. To have the support of the Donegal Town Chamber, Donegal Town Business Focus Group and other stakeholders is paramount to ensuring the continued success of outdoor space projects.”
Ms McGettigan expressed her thanks to everyone involved in all the projects going on in Donegal Town at the moment. She also thanked Marie and Loretta in the Chamber office, and all the businesses, groups and clubs who work towards making Donegal Town such a great place to live, work or visit.
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