Revitalising Small Towns on the Island of Ireland


Conference Programme

On the 27th October 2016, the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) together with Co-operation Ireland, held a half-day conference on the theme of Revitalising Small Towns on the Island of Ireland: The Role of Local Government.  Held in the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan, the event considered the general principles of regeneration, and the lessons to be learnt from good practice elsewhere; the larger context for the event being that towns and villages across the island of Ireland have in the past decade experienced rapid change and mixed fortunes.  This has ranged from the building of edge-of-town housing estates and retail units to increasing vacancy and the hollowing out of their centres. There are many reasons behind this persistent trend of decline and decay – edge of town developments, the evolving role of the digital economy, fewer people living along main streets and unsustainable suburban and one-off housing developments, changing demographics including population decline, and the many and varied impacts of the global economic crisis. How to redress these challenges is a major challenge facing local government across the island of Ireland – for while the challenges may be similar, it is increasingly clear that each town and village requires a specific and tailored response.

This event aimed to begin an all-island conversation on the role of local government in the revitalisation of our towns and villages. The event considered the broader challenges and opportunities at play, the policy environment in which the revitalisation of towns and the (re)imaginging of new futures will need to play out, and the key ingredients to the reimagining of small towns, successful place-making and especially those synergies that have to be created to make all of this happen.

Download the brochure and seminar programme here.

You can download the speaker’s presentations:

See more photos here.

Session 1: Revitalizing Small Towns – an Emerging Framework 

Welcome & Opening Remarks Chair: Dr. Patricia O’Hara, Adjunct Professor, Maynooth University & Chair, National Statistics Board

Revitalising our Small Towns: Why Now?: Mr. Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive, Roscommon County Council Mr. Anthony Tohill, Chief Executive, Mid Ulster District Council

Session 2: Reimagining Small Towns – the Key Ingredients

Keynote Address: The Future of Small Towns:
Process, People & Patience
Mr. Trevor Hart, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Newcastle

Small Town Regeneration: Key Factors for Success

Dr. Linda McElduff, Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, Ulster University


Small Town Regeneration: Energising the Community – What is the Recipe?

Mr. John Higgins, Managing Director, JH Public Affairs Ltd.


Session 3: Regenerating Our Communities – Learning from Others

Introduction by Chair: Dr. Patricia O’Hara

Case Study 1 – Moira Co. Down (Heritage Led Regeneration)

Ms. Suzanne Lutton, Regeneration & Infrastructure Manager, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council


Case Study 2 – Newcastle Co. Down (Tourism Focus)

Mr. Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive, Newry Mourne and Down District Council


Case Study 3 – Roscommon (Balancing Urban/Rural Issues)

Ms. Mary Grier, Senior Planner, Roscommon County Council


Case Study 4 – Cookstown (An Integrated Approach)

Mr. Adrian McCreesh, Director of Business and Communities, Mid Ulster District Council


Session 4: Plenary Session and Close

Revitalising Our Small Towns – Place-Making in Action

Ms. Sinead Carr, Director of Services, Tipperary County Council


Closing Comments

Chair: Dr. Patricia O’Hara