Smart Villages support in Ireland
The SR21 Country Page
information on Smart Villages in Ireland
How is the concept of Smart Villages defined?
According to the ‘Smart Villages Curriculum’ commissioned by Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Company (KLP) and 20 other Local Development Companies in Ireland, the ‘Smart Villages’ concept is based on 12 core principles:
- Leveraging Local Assets: Smart Villages have a well-managed register of local assets and regularly review these assets to ensure they form part of local action plans.
- Effective Internal Communications: the community has an effective internal communication system to allow all local stakeholders to be regularly updated on local activities and development projects that interest them.
- Effective External Communications: Smart Communities have clear external communication systems to engage with other communities, regional stakeholders, and visitors to maximise opportunities for the community.
- Knowledge Sharing: a Smart Community is one which readily shares its experience & know-how. It is a community that actively seeks to learn from the experience of similar teams in communities locally, regionally, and internationally.
- Digital Facilitation: a smart community leverages the benefits of a variety of digital tools to help understand, manage, and develop local opportunities for all Smart Communities to use a framework in order to effectively and regularly capture local data and use this data to make evidence-based decisions on all aspects of local development.
- Data & Feedback Metrics to Maximise Performance: suitable data can be gathered through targeted stakeholder surveys, mechanical data loggers (hardware), and from public ‘open data’ sources e.g. Census or live register data.
- Valuing Local Human Resources: Smart Communities actively seek to understand and document the needs, interests and skills of local residents with the aim of supporting all local volunteers to play an active role in the development of their community. The community understands the importance of effective management and training of local volunteers, have clear onboard framework for local volunteers and have a proactive succession planning approach.
- Collaborative Smart Community Planning: Smart Communities recognise the essential requirement for local goal setting, idea generation, project scheduling, community reporting and overall community planning.
- Oversight and Governance: Smart Villages prepare, manage and implement their community plan in a collaborative, transparent and sustainable manager. Strong governance processes and structures are in place to support collaborative planning and working.
- Community Projects Pipeline: the community manages a pipeline of local project interventions which volunteers, sponsors & supporters can engage and participate in.
- Consensus Management: Smart Communities appreciate differences of opinion and implement mechanisms to ensure such difficulties do not affect the overall objectives of the community.
- Transparent Financial Management: Smart Communities have transparent accounting procedures and policies. They employ good financial decision making.
Is digital a key feature of Smart Villages?
Yes, digital facilitation is a component of the 12 principles of the Smart Villages definition. Additionally, numerous other principals are heavily related to digital tools to facilitate communications, data and feedback metrics to maximise performance.
Is social innovation a key feature of Smart Villages?
Yes. While social innovation is not a specified key feature of the definition, social innovation underpins the entire concept of ‘Smart Villages’. Every part of the definition of ‘Smart Villages’ directly relates to social innovation.
How is the CAP supporting Smart Villages?
Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD)
Direct Smart Village interventions
LEADER intervention supports Smart Villages by providing funding for Smart Village projects. LEADER has been the primary funder of Smart Village plans across Ireland. The Smart Village Manual commissioned by the Local Development Company ‘Smart Village’ Partnership was funded through the LEADER platform
Direct Smart Village interventions
LEADER will continue to provide funding for community Smart Village planning, and Community Smart Village projects like Internet of Things (IoT) projects for Irish communities.
Irish National Rural Network
Dr Shane Conway, Researcher and Adjunct Lecturer in the University of Galway Rural Studies Centre
CAP Network support
Several network activities have been implemented on Smart Villages.
- Collection and dissemination of specific examples/good practices
- Conference organised with focus on Smart Villages
- NRN newsletter with information on Smart Villages
- Smart Villages Thematic Group.
The Irish NRN have also published the two editions of their annual ‘Smart Villages and Rural Towns’ newsletter (edition 1 and edition 2) over the course of the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP) (extended to 2022). These featured 16 guest authors who bring forth their own examples of, and perspective on the smart rural movement, whilst maintaining the same foci: the creation of Smart Villages.
How are other policies supporting Smart Villages?
Part of the Our Rural Futures project led by the department of Rural and Community Development, provides digital innovation projects across Ireland.
Smart Rural 27 – Smart Villages Taskforce
No taskforce is set up yet
Smart Villages in Ireland
A small rural community, consisting of two villages, has been designated as a Clár region in Ireland, primarily due to a significant decline in population over the past five decades. Despite the challenges, the community remains deeply rooted in Irish traditions, including vibrant cultural practices such as traditional Irish music and Gaelic games. Notably, the community takes pride in its strong support for women’s sports, particularly in the Camogie game. A key obstacle they encounter is the dwindling population, which directly impacts housing availability. However, the community has made substantial progress in establishing essential infrastructure to accommodate housing needs, exemplified by the implementation of an Integrated Constructed Wetland within a fully off-grid Eco Park, effectively treating wastewater and ensuring sustainable practices. There is also great wind resource in Killeedy (8-9 m/s) and around 40 mw of wind turbines all around the Mullaghareirk Mountains that Killeedy is located next to, but the community is not benefitting from it at the moment. Killeedy community is also a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC), i.e. a community that works together to develop a sustainable energy system and is supported as part of the programme run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Killeedy SEC has developed an Energy Master Plan which has structured efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency aspects in the community. There is also a lot of agricultural residue in the community due to poultry manure and 300,000 chickens a week being produced here.Read more
Cootehill is a market town and townland in County Cavan, Ireland. Cootehill was formerly part of the neighbouring townland of Munnilly. Both townlands lie within the barony of Tullygarvey. Cootehill was formally established as a market town in 1725 when Thomas Coote obtained a charter to hold markets and fairs; thereafter strong ties to the Irish linen industry were cultivated. A description from 1844 states: “The town is comparatively well-built and respectively inhabited; and is not equaled in appearance by any place between it and Dublin except Navan.” Agriculture and related industry (such as chicken processing and mushroom cultivation), as well as retail, are the main employers. The surrounding lakes and rivers provide a backdrop which attracts visitors and sports enthusiasts. The estate featured several lakes, gatehouses at the numerous gates, pasture, forest, drumlins, and wildlife which includes wild deer and corncrakes. It is bordered by the Dromore River and Dartrey Forest (once part of the former, Dartrey Estate). Most of Bellamont Forest is now designated as Natural Heritage Area by Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service. An ‘Enterprising Town’ awards winner, it is home to an array of unique businesses and industries – big and small.Read more
Abbeyleix is a market town situated on the old main road between Dublin and Cork. Indeed it’s central, convenient location makes it an ideal focal point to explore the midlands of Ireland. In recent years the town has been bypassed with the building of the M8 between Dublin and Cork. Abbeyleix is a town rich in culture and heritage. It has some beautiful architectural buildings with many of them with a special story to tell. One of the first buildings a visitor to Abbeyleix will see is the beautifully restored Heritage House. It dominates the northern aspect of the town and is open all year around and well worth a visit. It was built in 1884 and formerly called The North School. It was taken over by the by the Patrician brothers in 1933 for the education of the Catholic boys of the area. Abbeyleix Tidy Towns is charged with creating a community that continues to be an attractive place to live, to work and to visit. Their focus is now on placemaking and on reimagining their beautiful heritage town as a smart and sustainable community that is fit for the 21st Century.Read more
Edenderry is an historic market town that lies within the functional area of Offaly County Council approximately 31km to the east of Tullamore. With a population of 7,480 1 Edenderry is placed as the second largest town in County Offaly in terms of population. The town is situated close to the source of the River Boyne which runs to the west and northwest of the town and forms the county boundary between Offaly and Kildare. The Grand Canal runs in an east to west direction south of the town and a harbour branches from this in a northeasterly direction right into the centre of town. The more recent history is strongly associated with peat extraction in the nearby Bog of Allen. The layout of the town dates principally from the turn of the 19th Century, the historic Main Street, known as JKL Street, and Market Square provide a central spine from which the remainder of the town emanates. In the suburban areas
of the town there exists a number of large-scale housing estates which were constructed at various stages from the nineteen sixties to the nineteen eighties. From 1996 to 2016 Edenderry has experienced a population growth of 95%. These levels of population growth have resulted in pressures on services and employment opportunities in Edenderry. The Strategic Vision for this town is that Edenderry will be a vibrant, successful and sustainable town reinforced by strong local identity and civic pride. The Mission to achieving this vision is built around the principle of the sustainable development of the town and encouraging development to take place in a consolidated and coherent manner.
Dingle / Daingean Uí Chúis is the main coastal settlement on the Dingle / Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, one of Europe’s most westerly peninsulas. Our peninsula has a population of 12,500, of whom 3,500 live in Dingle (and environs). Our peninsula’s stunning landscapes, calendar of festivals, strong cultural heritage and distinctive identity, combined with our internationally renowned reputation as a place of welcome and hospitality have been drawing visitors to the area for generations. Tourism is thus the mainstay of our local economy, with agriculture and the marine also playing important roles in our area’s economic, social and cultural lives. Most of our peninsula is also a designated Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area). Dingle / Daingean Uí Chúis is the main service centre for our peninsula’s many rural communities, all of which have their own local identities and dynamics.Read more
Want to get involved or know more on what Smart Rural 27 is doing in Ireland? Contact us!
Last update: October 7, 2022