A notice about cookies

This website uses cookies. Some cookies may have been set already. To find out more about our use of cookies you can visit our Privacy policy. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.


This is a prototype - your feedback will help us to improve it.


Rural and regional economic development is a key part of improving the quality of life in rural areas, small towns and villages.

The process of developing rural areas requires:

  • working across government to advance the economic and social growth of rural areas in order to enhance the quality of life for people who live in rural Ireland
  • contributing to enhanced regional progress, with a view to strengthening the potential of all regions to contribute to economic recovery.

Sustainable Communities

As part of Project Ireland 2040 the government has committed to providing an additional €1 billion over the period 2019 to 2027 for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. This will provide investments to renew towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000 people.

The fund will provide opportunities to revitalise rural Ireland, make significant and sustainable impacts on rural communities, and address de-population. Funding will be awarded through a competitive bid process, based on the objectives in the National Planning Framework.

Under the LEADER programme, €250 million in grant aid is available to rural communities and businesses. This is provided to projects focused on economic and enterprise development, job creation, social inclusion and supporting the rural environment. Funding is allocated to 28 sub-regional areas based on administrative or county boundaries.

Targeted action is needed to support the regeneration of towns and villages. The Town and Village Renewal Scheme covers a range of projects to support and promote rural areas. The projects that receive funding will be decided by local authorities, businesses and communities.

TidyTowns involves villages, towns and cities being rated on all aspects of their local environment.

Enterprise and Employment

Future employment opportunities in rural areas will require measures to support rural entrepreneurship and innovative rural small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Atlantic Economic Corridor which stretches along the western seaboard of Ireland, from Donegal to Kerry.

It is home to many successful businesses, from ambitious start-ups to established multinationals. The Atlantic Economic Corridor aims to

  • grow an entrepreneurial and innovation culture
  • encourage infrastructural investment
  • attract foreign direct investment
  • support Irish companies with global ambitions

The Ceantair Laga Árd-Riachtanais, or CLÁR, is an investment programme for small-scale infrastructural projects in depopulated rural areas. CLÁR supports the development of identified areas by attracting people to live and work there.

Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is Ireland's largest indigenous industry-employing 230,000 people nationally. Growing this industry is a key priority, as outlined in Tourism Development and Innovation: A Strategy for Investment 2016-2022.

The department is mandated with developing rural recreation in line with the objectives of The Walks Scheme and Rural Recreation Officers scheme as developed by Comhairle na Tuaithe (The Countryside Council). The Walks Scheme also pays maintenance fees to landowners with National Waymarked Ways on their property. The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme provides funding for trails, outdoor playgrounds and outdoor playground equipment.

Infrastructure and Connectivity

The protection and promotion of the Irish landscape and making rural Ireland more attractive to live, work and visit is a major part of the Realising Our Rural Potential - Action Plan for Rural Development

The Local Improvement Scheme provides funding for improvements to private and non-publicly maintained roads. Such roads can lead to multiple residences, farmland or amenities like lakes, rivers or beaches.

Delivering high speed broadband to every citizen and business in Ireland is the remit of the National Broadband Plan (NBP). The Regional Development and Innovation Unit is tasked with clearing any local barriers and identifying priority areas.

Publications (95)

How you can volunteer

3 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Publication;

The Community Call

2 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Publication;

Government launches initiative to phone older people to check on wellbeing during COVID-19 crisis

2 April 2020; Department of Rural and Community Development; Press release;