26thApril 2018, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk


The joint International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) and Co-operation Ireland seminar on ‘Rural Society in Transition:  Planning for  21st Century Rural Potentials and Challenges’ took  place on Thursday, 26th April 2018 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Rural areas are diverse, with development affected by the interactions of a range of sectoral policies.  Too often rural policy is determined at the edge of more established policies – whether agriculture, environment or planning.  Instead, rural policy-making must be cross-cutting.   Research tells us that the make-up of rural communities and the rural economy is changing.  The population is aging faster than in urban areas; agriculture is no longer the dominant employer; and issues of deprivation, connectivity, access to services and energy supply remain key challenges. Furthermore, relying on communities themselves to build vibrant communities using the asset-base of the rural is no longer sufficient.

A shared challenge for central, regional and local government, together with rural communities, is to co-design and co-delivery vibrant rural societies that are sustainable into the future.  And to fully understand the implications of following a ‘business as usual’ model.

This event aimed to begin an all-island conversation on the interventions required to sustain rural societies across Ireland…and not only sustain but build vibrant rural communities.  This is not just about economic regeneration; rather, it requires a cross-disciplinary dialogue that has regard to economics, planning, community planning, rural development, social inclusion, heritage, and environmental management / protection. This 1-day event considered the broader challenges and opportunities at play and the policy environment in which rural society must find a defined and legislative context to be an integral part of a Master Plan for “all Society”.



Ruth McAreavey Rural Potential and Challenges in the 21st Century
Eugene Cummins Rural Policy: A Coherent Approach or Mis-mash!
Dr. Karen Keaveney Through a Rural Lens: Programmes, Policy & Practice – Developing or Supporting the Rural?
John Higgins Rural Society in Transition: The Changing Role of the Rural Town
Katy Hayward The Prospects for the Post-Brexit Irish Border
Deborah Peel Finding a Place for Community Planning in Ireland?
Leonard Cleary “Rural Development – A County Strategic Approach
Dr. Stephen Brennan Smart Community
Brendan O’Keeffe Rural Vibrancy Tool: Enabling Rural Society to Best Meet its Potential
Diarmaid Lawlor A Standard for “The Place”