Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 (LEADER)

The aim of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) is to improve the Quality of Life in rural areas and to encourage Diversification of the Rural Economy. The Programme covers all rural areas of Westmeath but excludes the areas within the Town Council boundaries of Athlone and Mullingar.    

As was the case with the previous LEADER programmes, the Rural Development Programme places major emphasis on the implementation of innovative approaches to rural development at a local level.  

Support will be provided for the generation of economic activity and enterprise, including diversification into non-agricultural activities, the creation of new and the expansion of existing enterprises, job creation and sustaining of existing jobs as well as the generation of additional and alternative incomes in rural areas.  The encouragement of tourism activities and the conservation and  upgrading of the rural heritage, village enhancement works and the provision of community facilities such as community centres and playgrounds can also be supported under the Programme.   

Aid is also available in respect of Analysis and Development (Feasibility Studies, Business Plans, Tidy Towns Plans etc.) across Measures.

Aid will take the form of support under the following measures:

311. Diversification into non Agricultural Activities

312 Business Creation & Development (Enterprise)

313. Encouragement of Tourism Activities

321. Basic Services for the Economy & Rural Population

322. Village Renewal Development

323. Conservation Upgrading of Rural Heritage

331. Training & Information

341. Skills acqusisition animation implementation of local development strategies

421. Implementing Co-operation Projects

To view list of Projects supported by Rural Development Programme in Westmeath

RDP Projects 2013


WCD has called on both the Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan T.D., and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, to secure 10% of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) budget for LEADER.

Chairman Dermot Leavy, said "The current LEADER programme has been shown to be very successful in supporting rural communities and enterprises, successfully committing to €370m budget in full to projects by the end of last year. In fact many more projects remain in the pipeline as there were not enough funds available to commit to them."

He said that it is important that the momentum demonstrated by LEADER is not lost as the current LEADER programme finishes at the end of 2014. The EU have made advance funding available to Member States to facilitate planning by the LEADER groups for the next LEADER programme, which start early in 2015.

"We are aware that the next round of funding will be less than the current programme. However, if the government matches EU's commitment of funding 50:50, then LDC's are confident that 10% RDP budget will ensure a reasonable level of funding for rural communities for the 2014-2020 period and will build on the successes of LEADER over the last 20 years" said Mr Leavey.

For further information on the LEADER Programme contact Joe Potter CEO of WCD on 044 93 48571 or email:


LEADER Supporting Rural Development

Experienced tourism providers Margaret and Tom McCormack had been looking at adding value to their Guesthouse which is located on the outskirts of Mullingar and approached LEADER for assistance. The idea was to include a hot tub style installation called a "Swimspa" which has a full swimming facility where currents are generated in the water to simulate swimming.

The couple set up the B&B over 25 years ago and following an extensive renovation in 2003 the premises became a 3 star Guest house with 10 en suite rooms. The McCormack's provide a range of leisure facilities for guests including a tennis court, a sauna and hot tub for relaxation and access to the farm for walking. "In looking at how we were going to add value to our existing operations our first port of call was to LEADER to discuss the idea of including the Swimspa" outlined Margaret. "The support we received from start to finish was great and we are delighted now to be able to extend our season and attract longer-staying guests". We now have visitors coming from across Europe to stay with us, many of whom state that a main attraction for them in choosing our premises is the range of leisure facilities we provide" she continued.

Tom and Margaret also attended an eco-tourism training programme funded by LEADER and are now one of twelve rural tourism businesses in Westmeath with green accreditation. They are also members of the Westmeath Angling network, another

LEADER animation initiative aimed at assisting the tourism angling sector in Westmeath.

In recognising the potential of the horse industry to rural Westmeath, LEADER has provided support to their equine enterprises. One such recipient was Adrian Murray who approached LEADER with his idea to develop an outdoor equestrian area and 2.5 furlong gallop at his farm located in Rathowen. Adrian is a farmer with a strong interest and experience of the equestrian sector having worked with horses for many years. In researching and developing the idea for his business expansion Adrian first contacted WCD and availed of the company's Animation supports which assisted and guided him through the process of applying for grant aid. Adrian was successful in securing grant aid. Adrian was successful in securing grant aid for the development of his equine business and now has 1 full time and 2 part time employees and caters for a broad spectrum of customers in the Equine Sector. "Receiving the finance to expand my operation was great but crucially for me was the support I received in making the application. Without this support from LEADER my project would not have got off the ground". 


Local Crafts on Display at National Ploughing Championship

Button Studio at Food & Craft Village


Westmeath Community Development has three local craft businesses attending the LEADER Food & Craft Village at the National Ploughing Championships 2013. This event one Europe's largest outdoor Exhibitions & Trade Shows.


Meab Enamels at the Food & Craft Village

The LEADER Food & Craft Village is a very busy part of showground and will see Button Studio, Meab Enamels and Delores Keaveney from the Westmeath region taking part in the craft village. The event takes place in Ratheniska Co. Laois from September 24th to 26th.


Aileen Duffy and Delores Keaveney at Food & Craft Village


Late Surge In Applications For LEADER Grants

There was a huge surge in applications for funding under the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme coming up to the closing date according to Joe Potter CEO of WCD.The programme is closed for applications for now, but we are continuing to talk to community groups and other people who are developing projects as there is a possibility that more funding could become available.

All of our good work has paid off and a huge number of projects were approved for funding in recent months. There had been some concern during the year that the full allocation of funds available to County Westmeath would not be taken up, but it appears those fears were unfounded. Following a slow start, activity picked up significantly in 2012 and 2013, resulting in almost 8 million euro being committed to projects under the current programme which has been running since 2009. Project promoters themselves have invested a similar amount, which means a total investment of approximately 15 million euro has been made in rural development in the county in that period. It is estimated that the total investment in rural development projects since the mid-nineties when the LEADER programme first came to Westmeath to be of the order of 30 million euro. Reflecting further on recent trends he said that the virtual stagnation of the economy has presented huge challenges for potential entrepreneurs but that despite this, tourism, for example,  continues to hold its own in the county and in the past year there has been renewed interest in expansion of facilities by people already in the business.



Westmeath Rural Arts - Genealogy Training Programme

Westmeath Rural Arts Network represent communities in the following areas Streete, Rathowen, Bunbrosna, Ballinlack, Rathconrath, Emper, Ballynacargy, Sonna, Lismacaffrey, Multyfarnaham, Ballinafid, Milltown and surrounding areas. Through support from the Rural Development Programme, the Network has organised a Genealogy Training Programme aimed at all these communities who are taking part in the “Ireland Reaching Out” (Ireland XO) initiative. This initiative aims to contact the diaspora all over the world through what has become known as “reverse genealogy” in that instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, the reverse happens. Through working through voluntary effort at a townland, village and parish level in Ireland, Ireland XO identify who left those areas, and trace them and their descendants worldwide. This reverse genealogy entails the tracing and recording of all the people who left Ireland and seeking out their living descendants worldwide. Those identified or recognised as persons of Irish heritage or affiliation are invited to become part of a new extended Irish society. The Programme starts on Wednesday 11th September 7.30pm – 9.30pm in Kilkixy Church Hall Ballynacargy and runs until 16th October. For further details on the Programme please contact Eamonn O’Donoghue on (087) 251 3000.

Click on the link below for a full schedule:

training programme kilbixy rural arts for website.doc