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158/11/2022 - Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative nominated for National Award

Enjoying a light-hearted moment in front of the Ballyshannon silhouette on the former Ballyshannon Bakery Company building on The Mall, Ballyshannon


The Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative (2021) has been shortlisted in the Community & Heritage Award category of the forthcoming KPMG - Irish Independent Property Industry Excellence Awards to be held The Convention Centre, Dublin on Thursday, November 24.  The Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative was a partnership between Donegal County Council, Ballyshannon Regeneration Group, Dedalus Architecture, local property owners, The Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage.


“The Community & Heritage Award recognises projects that involve the local community in the re-use, conservation and preservation of our historic buildings or in designing public realm schemes that complement the historic built environment” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “Twelve historic buildings along The Mall and the Manor House on Upper Main Street in Ballyshannon benefitted under the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative in 2021.  Conservation works undertaken included roof and chimney repairs, addressing structural issues, installation of cast-iron rainwater goods, reinstatement of timber sash windows and doors, repair of traditional hand-painted signage, meanwhile use of three vacant shopfronts and the repair and reinstatement of historic shopfronts informed by best conservation practice and historical evidence.  The shortlisting of the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative is further evidence that the potential of our historic buildings and streetscapes in County Donegal is starting to be realised.  Our approach to the treatment of our historic buildings and streetscapes is rooted in best conservation practice, enlists traditional building skills, protects the historic fabric and aesthetic of our built environment, and is responsible in terms of economic and climate considerations.  Over the past four years, we have undertaken Historic Towns Initiatives in Letterkenny, Ramelton and Ballyshannon.  The work has seen an investment of over €1 million by The Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage and €275,000 by Donegal County Council as well as 30% match funding by local property owners.”


The Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative represented a cross‐directorate partnership between the Housing, Corporate & Culture Directorate and the Community Development & Planning Services Directorate of Donegal County Council and was co-managed by the Heritage Officer and Conservation Officer.  “We were fortunate to work with our community partners, the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group – in particular Cllr. Barry Sweeny and Terry McIntyre – and local property owners last year on The Mall and Upper Main Street so it’s great to see our efforts recognised with this award nomination.  With the challenges our towns and villages are facing, the conservation of the built heritage in our historic towns has never been more important than it is now.”  The work of the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group has been celebrated at national level already this year with the group winning the Sustainable Heritage Award for its ‘Ballyshannon Historic Town – Conversation & Conservation’ event at the National Heritage Week Awards organised by The Heritage Council last month.     


Under the Historic Towns Initiative, every local authority can submit one application to the scheme each year for a historic town with an indicative population of more than 1,500 inhabitants.  The proposed works must be based on a heritage-led or conservation plan-led approach and demonstrate strong community engagement.  If you think that your town meets or is working towards meeting the criteria for the Historic Towns Initiative, please contact the County Donegal Heritage Office on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at [email protected]