Donegal County Council Logo


Home > Your Council > Communications Office > Press Releases 2023 > October

03/10/2023 - Heritage-led Regeneration Award for Ballyshannon

Celebrating the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative winning the Urban Regeneration & Heritage Award at the Irish Planning Institute’s Irish Planning Awards at Clontarf Castle


Donegal County Council and its partners scooped the Urban Regeneration & Heritage Award for the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative at the Irish Planning Institute’s Irish Planning Awards at Clontarf Castle last Thursday evening, September 28.  The Irish Planning Awards recognise innovation and excellence in Irish planning.    


“We’re delighted to have our work recognised in this way” said Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer with Donegal County Council.  “As a planner by profession, it is particularly pleasing for me to have your work recognised by your peers.  Nineteen historic buildings along The Mall, The Diamond and on Upper Main Street in Ballyshannon benefitted under the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative in 2021 and 2022.  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 and reinstatement of historic shopfronts and repair of the cast-iron and wrought-iron railings.  All the repairs used traditional materials, enlisted traditional building skills and were informed by best conservation practice and historical evidence.  We were fortunate to work with our wonderful community partners, the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group and local property owners on this great initiative.” 


“It’s great to see our heritage-led approach to the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative recognised at these awards” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “This initiative emphasises that we need to be more ambitious, set much higher standards and be more collaborative in our approach to the conservation of built heritage in our towns and villages.  The destruction and replacement of historic buildings is not a sustainable or responsible approach and robs our towns and villages of part of their character.  Our historic built environment is durable, adaptable, attractive and fit-for-purpose.  The conservation of our historic buildings and streetscapes also provide opportunities for upskilling contractors, developing traditional skills, providing employment and creating places of employment.  What the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative has shown is that the loss of historic character, built heritage fabric and even our historic buildings themselves need not, and should not, be the price we have to pay for progress.  The property owners in Ballyshannon, our partners in this initiative, recognise that their ambitions for their buildings and their town can be addressed with a heritage-led approach that places community engagement and built heritage conservation at its core.  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.”


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.  Within Donegal County Council, 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. 


Speaking at the awards, Mary Mac Mahon, President of the Irish Planning Association said “The Irish Planning Institute’s Irish Planning Awards serve as a testament to the invaluable role of planning in our society.  They celebrate our diverse, dynamic, and sustainable projects, showcasing the positive impact of planning on our communities.  As President, it’s been my privilege to elevate the profile of planning and to honour the achievements, diversity and potential within our sector. With entries spanning the island, our winners from Dublin to Donegal exemplify excellence.  I extend my gratitude to all entrants, congratulate the winners, and acknowledge our sponsors for making these awards possible.”


The latest award builds on earlier successes that saw the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative win the Community & Heritage Award at the KPMG – Irish Independent Property Industry Excellence Awards in 2022 and was commended in the Conservation, Adaptation & Re-use category at the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland national awards in June 2023.