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

New Playground for Killucan


The official opening of the Killucan Playground took place on Friday 26th April 2013. This much welcomed recreational facility is the culmination of the endeavours of a local group, the Killucan Raharney Recreation group chaired by Anne Marie McArdle. This group were successful in receiving 75% grant aid for the playground from Westmeath Community Development through the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme 2007-2013. They also undertook local fundraising to provide 5% of the required funds with Westmeath County Council providing 20% funding.

Speaking at the official opening Mr Dermot Leavy Chairman of Westmeath Community Development commended all involved for their hard work in making this project a reality for the communities in Killucan and Raharney.

The LEADER Programme has been instrumental in providing funds for projects throughout Westmeath for almost two decades. The current Rural Development Programme has invested heavily in the economic and social fabric of rural Westmeath with over 4.5million committed to projects since 2009. This investment has contributed significantly to improving the quality of life of people living in rural Westmeath.



A message from Pat Spillane

Save the Date!



10th June 2013


The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) Conference 2013


The Future of Rural Society: Opportunities for Rural Economic Development


 National University of Ireland, Maynooth



The conference is being organised by The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) to engage with rural stakeholders and establish their views on how to secure the future of rural society.

It will also help mark the 25th Anniversary of the first EU Rural Development Strategy ‘The Future of Rural Society’.


The conference will have a range of national and international speakers, which will allow for comparisons between Irish and foreign rural policies. Topics in the agenda include; drivers for economic change and enterprise supports for rural economic development.

In addition to discussing rural economic development, the Commission will give feedback on the results from the public consultation phase. The delegates will have the opportunity to interact with the Commission and give their views on the results of the public consultation.


CEDRA was established to conduct a comprehensive research exercise and produce a detailed report that will inform the medium term economic development of rural areas for the period to 2025.

Established by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in October 2012, the Commission will summit a report that will advise the Government on the practical steps needed to ensure that rural Ireland contributes to and benefits from economic recovery.

CEDRA is supported by Teagasc, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Western Development Commission and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.




Pat Spillane

Chairperson CEDRA


More info here


For more information, please visit


Sustainable Energy Initiative

Following meetings with stakeholders and community workshops, the first working group meeting was held on March 21st. There was a detailed discussion about a range of sustainable energy projects and ideas, such as community energy and carbon audits, home energy refurbishment, pilot electric vehicles, car pooling, biomass heating, energy cooperatives and much more.

The ideas and developments taking place will be discussed further at a publlic workshop on Saturday, April 20th from 2-5pm in the Bloomfield Site.

For further information contact Patrick Daly at or This project is funded under the Rural Development Programme.




First ever custom built motocross track opens in Westmeath.

Biking fever is set to let rip as the first ever fully designed and planned bike track in Ireland opens today (Saturday) in the heart of the Midlands.
The new motor biking track is on land that was granted under lease by Bord na Móna to a local start-up company Derryarkin Motocross. The ‘Arrive and Ride’ track is located close to Junction 3 on the M6 and is expected to attract quad drivers and bikers from across the region.
Karl Brady of Derryarkin Motocross said: “It is fantastic to be opening this exciting new facility here today. It took three years to get here but it was all worth it to see people here enjoying the tests and trials during the week. The track is in superb shape and I couldn’t be happier with the way all the design work has come together to make a top class facility here in Derryarkin.  I’m especially pleased that Chairman Motorcycling Ireland Sean Bissot and Vice President of motorcycling Ireland Trevor Callaghan were able to be here to cut the ribbon on the track. I hope this is the first of a lot of great days here at Derryarkin- roll on the Summer!”
Representing Bord na Móna at the event Head of Fuels, Paul Riordan said: “Bord na Móna has a good tradition of working with local people and businesses to find smart solutions to common challenges. This bike track is a fantastic example of that kind of co-operation that sees a problem turned into a great asset to the community and the region. Local residents, an Garda Síochána and ourselves in Bord na Móna all faced this shared problem of nuisance bikers on the boglands in the area. As well as the issues around noise pollution and damage to wildlife habitats the activity presented a serious health and safety issue for the bikers themselves. We were delighted to work with Derryarkin Motocross to help create the track here, protecting the local area from had become dangerous nuisance activity and giving bikers a fantastic new facility.”
The track at Derryarkin is 1800 metres long and varies between six and ten metres wide, incorporating a series of turns, jumps and straights, all designed in accordance with Motorcycle Ireland rules and regulations.
It was part funded by Westmeath Community Development. No other track has ever been granted planning permission in Ireland. The track at Derryarkin has been granted approval by Westmeath and Offaly County Councils as well as An Bord Pleanala.
Derryarkin Motocross track is located on the Rhode- Rochfortbridge road approximately 1km South of Junction 3 on the M6.

Location of Derryarkin Motocross:

View Larger Map


Eco-tourism in Westmeath

Eco-tourism in Westmeath

A number of tourism businesses recently completed a training programme on ecotourism and environmental management. The training was provided by Westmeath Community Development through the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme and the successful participants achieved the prestigious Green Hospitality Award Eco label.

The Green Hospitality Award verifies that each business is committed to energy conservation, water conservation, waste management, promoting biodiversity, green purchasing and sustainable travel. Each business developed an environmental policy to incorporate all of the above and to communicate this to guests. Bernie Leavy of  Westmeath Community Development said ‘We are delighted that fourteen businesses have achieved the Green Hospitality Award, and it shows their commitment to environmental best practice. Ecotourism is one if the fastest growing sectors within tourism and this network of businesses will help visitors identify Westmeath as an ecotourism destination.’        

During training each business developed an environmental policy. The environmental policy included developing systems to reduce energy use, conserve water, efficient waste management, purchasing policies, sourcing food and services locally. Each business was audited at the end of the programme to ensure that criteria of the Green Hospitality Award Scheme were implemented.

Maurice Bergin director of the Green Hospitality Award Scheme said ‘we are delighted with the standard of applications, and these tourism businesses in Westmeath have really embraced the concept of ecotourism, and the natural beauty of the county make it extremely well positioned to develop this growing sector of tourism’. 

Photo:Eco—Tourism Training Programme participants

Front row  L: to R: Evan Gannon Boutique Camping, Warwick O’ Hara, Anne O’Hara Mornington House, Aideen Ginnell, Lough Owel Lodge & Jim Denby Shelmalier House.

Back row L to R: Helen Kelly, Lough Bishop House, Tom McCormack Mullingar, Tom Reid Glasson, Pat Weir Multyfarnham, John Hughes, Eva Boland Feerick’s Hotel, Neil Faulkner Aisling Consulting, Bernie Leavy, Westmeath Community Development, Helen Conneely  Ballinahown  and Maurice Bergen Green Hospitality Awards.