Connemara West welcomes the award on Friday November 23rd of €1.728 million for its Global Learning & Digital Hub in Tullycross village from the government’s Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.  The successful application to the fund, which was led by the Western Development Commission, was one of the first 18 projects funded out of 290 applications submitted.   The Connemara West award was the sixth highest.

Commenting on the news, Dr. Kevin Heanue, Chairman of Connemara West said that “this is great news for Tullycross village and the broader Renvyle peninsula”.  He continued that “Connemara West is well-positioned to contribute to the government’s key strategic outcome of strengthening rural economies and communities”.  “We look forward to working with our Irish partners, the Western Development Commission, Tomar Trust, Forum Connemara CLG, Galway County Council, NUIG and GMIT, together with our United States partners, the Friends of Connemara and Aquinas College from Michigan and Lourdes University from Ohio, to begin this project in 2019”.

Previously called a Residential Education Centre, the rebranded Global Learning & Digital Hub is a strategic regional project based on the Irish diaspora, heritage, culture, learning and local amenities which will attract off-peak visitors to this Wild Atlantic Way destination.   The funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will help this project move to a higher level of existing activity based on four key market segments. The international study abroad market is already well established in Tullycross with six colleges basing their study abroad programmes in the village each year and many others wishing to do so.  Targeting the corporate retreat and personal wellness markets is designed to leverage the location’s advantages as a peaceful rural area with high amenity value in two growing segments of the Irish tourism sector.  The provision of flexible working accommodation such as hot-desks and co-working space means Connemara West will now be able to service a need they are regularly approached about.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission (WDC) said “this is an excellent example of the potential impact of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in building sustainable community projects. The WDC looks forward to working with Connemara West and the other partners in delivering the Global Learning and Digital Hub.”

The Global Learning and Digital Hub is part of a niche education-led tourism development model implemented by Connemara West to drive economic development for Connemara and the wider Western Region.  At the centre of the project is the plan to build a new Learning Centre in Tullycross by redeveloping a building acquired by Connemara West in the village and upgrading its current stock of 9 thatched cottages on the site.  The Centre will have the capacity to cater for an average of 40 people at any given time.  It will contain a 50-seat auditorium; Wi-Fi-enabled learning hub/library; group study and breakout rooms; video conferencing facilities; a conference room and a coffee dock. In addition, the Centre will provide hot-desking and co-working space for businesses to a commercial standard.

Established in 1971 on foot of a local fundraising drive, Connemara West which is owned by 500 local shareholders is a locally-managed community development organisation based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway and directly employs 28 people.