At the LEADER launch were (from left) Andrea Corroon, LEADER development officer, Bernie Leavy, LEADER manager, Frank Murtagh, CEO Westmeath Community Development, Cathryn Whelehan, chairperson Westmeath LCDC, Margaret Egan, Community and Enterprise, WCC, Barry Kehoe, chief executive, WCC, Veronica Moran, Community and Enterprise, WCC, Pat Murtagh, chief officer, LCDC, and Lourdes Neary, Community and Enterprise, WCC.

LEADER strategy is to create vibrant local communities

LEADER 2023-2027 Programme – Open for Expressions of Interest


The LEADER Programme has been in operation since the 1990s and over the last 30 years, it has supported the development of a wide range of innovative and sustainable projects that have brought increased jobs and vibrancy to rural communities across the county.

Leader supports locally identified initiatives that seek to address locally identified needs and challenges. The vision of Local Development Strategy for Leader 2023-2027 is “a county with an active and inclusive society, supported by strong communities and a vibrant sustainable economy, with equal access to basic services whilst safeguarding our environment including its biodiversity and water resources and addressing the challenges associated with climate change”.

The Strategy outlines the aims and objectives for Westmeath under the specific themes and sub-themes for Leader 2023-2027 which include;

Theme 1: Economic Development and Job Creation;

Theme 2: Rural Infrastructure and Social Inclusion;

Theme 3: Sustainable Development of the Rural Environment and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.

Each of the above themes cover a range of areas under which actions will be undertaken to support rural businesses and communities. These include the Development of the Green Economy, Agricultural Diversification, Rural Food Production as well as support for Social, Community and Co-operation Enterprises.

Actions will also promote social inclusion as well as supporting the development and enhancement of rural infrastructure, accessible services, assisting communities to maximise digital connectivity as well as rural youth initiatives.

The importance of our rural environment and issues around climate change mitigation and adaptation are also key areas under Leader 2023-2027. The strategy also provides for actions which will help to create a greater awareness of environmental issues such as the protection of our water resources and biodiversity.

Training programmes, analysis and development and other initiatives will also be supported, which will play a role in helping to meet our climate targets and reduce our emissions.

An overall budget of €4,275,000 is available for projects for the duration of the Leader 2023-2027 Programme.

A series of information meetings are being held over the coming weeks at the following venues and all are welcome to attend;

Rochfortbridge Hall, Rochfortbridge, June 11, 7.30-9pm

Collinstown Hall, Collinstown, June 13, 7.30-9pm

Mount Temple Hall, Mount Temple, June 18, 7.30-9pm

Milltown Community Centre, Milltown, Rathconrath, June 19, 7.30-9pm.

Members of the Westmeath Local Action Group/LCDC at the launch of Leader 2023-2027 on May 24 (from left) Vinnie Bagnall, Christine Charlton, Frank Murtagh, Anne Drury, Cathryn Whelehan (chairperson), Maria Fox, Hugh Farrell, Teresa Kennedy, Barry Kehoe, chief executive, Westmeath County Council, and Pat Murtagh, chief officer, LCDC.

Rural Infrastructure and Accessible Services

Under the Theme of Rural Infrastructure and Social Inclusion, there is a requirement to improve basis services for people living in rural and remote areas and for groups who are at risk of social exclusion, including hard to reach communities and new communities.

In order to provide an opportunity for more people to live and work in their rural communities, measures to develop and/or enhance rural infrastructure and improve access to basic services are required.

Expressions of interest are now being sought from project promoters under the theme of Rural Infrastructure and Social Inclusion, sub-themes Rural Infrastructure and Accessible Services as follows:

Sub-theme: Rural Infrastructure

Objective: To improve and enhance Rural Infrastructure for people living in rural areas.

The objective here is to provide infrastructure that will improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing primarily for people living in sparsely populated areas as well as those living in disadvantaged areas.

Rural infrastructure such as community facilities, recreational infrastructure (including playgrounds), arts/culture activities and facilities will be supported under this action. It will also support communities in the provision of essential community facilities such as the upgrading and enhancement of community buildings and facilities with a focus on creating multi-functional spaces as community and other uses e.g. enterprise/ shared space arts/ cultural uses or hubs for community activity.

Support will also be provided to undertake audits, feasibility studies and plans will also be supported.

Sub-theme: Accessible Services

Objective: Improve access to services for rural dwellers and ensure social inclusion for people living in remote areas.

Westmeath has seen a significant growth in new communities and the demand for facilities has increased as a result. The objective under this sub-theme of accessible services is to empower all members of society including people with disabilities, hard to reach communities and new communities to have access to services and facilities in the county. It will support community engagement and give communities a shared aim and vision.

Projects that may be considered for capital funding include the upgrading and enhancement of community buildings with a focus on creating multi-functional spaces for community and other uses e.g arts/cultural/community hubs. Support will also be provided to undertake audits and feasibility studies where deemed necessary.

Priority groups under this call will include hard to reach communities, new communities and communities in remote rural areas as well as those that have not benefited under previous Leader Programmes. Priority areas under the call will include disadvantaged areas in Mullingar, Athlone and Moate as well as Kilbeggan, Delvin, Collinstown, Finea, Clonmellon, Rathowen, Streete, Ballynacargy, Rochfortbridge, Moyvore, Coole, Turin, Milltownpass, Tyrrellspass, Tubberclair and Tang and surrounding areas.

Mainstream activity of sporting clubs will not be eligible under this call.

The overall budget available for this target call under Rural Infrastructure and Accessible Services is €1,000,000. Eligible projects under capital investments may qualify for grant aid of up to 75% of the eligible costs to a maximum of €200,000. Initiatives in the area of Analysis and Development such as Area Plans and Feasibility Studies may qualify for up to 90% of the eligible costs to a maximum of €30,000.

Closing dates

Closing date for receipt of Stage 1: Expression of Interest (EoI): June 28, 2024. All successful EoIs will be invited to progress to Stage 2: Full Application for Leader funding.

Closing date for receipt of Full Applications is September 2, 2024. To discuss your proposal or to request an Expressions of Interest, please contact a member of the Leader Team in Westmeath Community Development on 044 93 48571 or email:

Cathryn Whelehan, chairperson, at the launch of LEADER 2023-2027.