26th September 2019, Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Dundalk

The joint International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) and Co-operation Ireland seminar on ‘Death by Nostalgic Sentiment Or A New Narrative for Rural Ireland?’ took place on Thursday, 26th September 2019 in the Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Rural areas are diverse, each facing a unique set of opportunities and challenges that are often closely informed by their proximity to urban centres.  Proximity to larger urban centres can have a strong bearing on the vibrancy – or not – of rural towns and villages.  The vibrancy or vulnerability of rural places can also be impacted by the role nostalgia and associated rural narratives play in influencing the rural development agenda.  How rural change is explained shapes how the future is imagined in terms of both policy and practitioner responses.

This conference provided a timely opportunity for dialogue and debate on the future of rural Ireland, particularly our rural towns and villages.  Attended by over 90 delegates, this 1-day event considered the current nuances in rural policy and practice, and the imperative of framing a new narrative for rural Ireland – without losing the ‘essence’ of place.  Recognising that a shared challenge for central, regional and local government, together with rural communities, is to co-create vibrant rural societies that are sustainable into the future, the event considered the type of interventions required to sustain and build vibrant rural societies across the island of Ireland.

This event was the third in the trilogy focusing on rural revitalisation; with previous events including:

As with the previous events in this series, this conference recognised that reframing the future of Rural Ireland requires a cross-disciplinary dialogue that has regard to the realities of 21st Century living, and the impact of this on both the built and natural environment.


Copy of Programme here.


  1. Death from Nostalgic Sentiment or A New Narrative for Rural Ireland?
    Mr. Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive, Roscommon County Council
  2. Rural Change: Cyclical Process, Natural Shrinkage or Something Else?
    Prof. Des McCafferty, Head of Geography, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick & Senior Research Associate, ICLRD
  3. The Rural Narrative: Stuck in Nostalgic Sentiment and Political Opportunism?
    Dr. Karen Keaveney, Assistant Professor of Rural Development, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin & Senior Research Associate, ICLRD
  4. Thinking Rural: Reflecting on the Impact of Rural Proofing on Northern Ireland Policy
    Mr. Colm McQuillan, Director of Housing Services, Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  5. Perceiving Futures in the Present: Exploring the Future Creativity of Place Mr. Kevin Murray, Director, Kevin Murray Associates & Honorary Professor of Planning, University of Dundee
  6. Valuing Towns: People Make the Difference
    Ms. Pippa Coutts, Policy and Development Manager, Carnegie UK Trust
  7. Breaking Ground – European Approaches to Changing Rural Narratives
    Ms. Caroline Creamer, Director, International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD)
  8. European Shrinking Rural Areas – Perspectives for Ireland
    Dr. David Meredith, Research Officer – Rural Economy & Development Programme, Teagasc
  9. Concluding Remarks: A New Narrative for Rural Ireland
    Dr. Conor Skehan, School of Spatial Planning, Technological University Dublin


Photographs from event: