News Archive for the ‘Press Releases’ Category

Yeats 2015 Programme Awards

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Creative/Artistic Programme Awards

yeats2015-logoThe Western Development Commission on behalf of the Steering Group for Yeats 2015 invites artist(s), creative individuals, organisations to express their interest in applying for funding to develop creative, artistic, innovative and contemporary programme elements which will form part of the national celebration of W.B. Yeats in 2015.

Application Forms for this Award are available at: Yeats 2015 EofI Creative Artistic Programme Awards

Regional Programme Awards

The Western Development Commission on behalf of the Steering Group for Yeats 2015 invites applications from interested parties in the arts, cultural, heritage, tourism sectors to apply for funding to develop new innovative programme elements which will form part of the national celebration of W.B. Yeats in 2015.

Application Forms for this Award are available at: Yeats 2015 EofI Regional Programme Awards

Closing date for receipt of completed applications for both Awards is Monday 29th September at 12 noon.

Late applications cannot be accepted.

About Yeats 2015

W.B. Yeats is a poet and writer of world renown. His Nobel Prize, won in 1923, was awarded for his “always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Although he was born in the 19th century, Yeats’ works continue to speak to a modern audience and his influence on the literary world continues to be significant.

Yeats 2015 is intended to be a year-long national and international celebration of the life and works of the Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler Yeats, run in 2015. It will mark 150 years since his birth on June 13th 1865. Institutions and organisations from around Ireland and the world are intended to partner with Yeats 2015 to celebrate this important event. Initial discussions with key stakeholders have yielded a strong level of support. Yeats 2015 will offer a diverse and rewarding series of events to acknowledge and celebrate the range and depth of his work.

In November 2013 the Government under the auspices of the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht set up a Yeats 2015 Steering Group chaired by Senator Susan O’Keeffe, in order to prepare a plan and implement the Yeats 2015 programme.

In May 2014 the Government formally announced that Yeats 2015 formed part of the national decade of commemoration initiative and as such would be the chosen emphasis for 2015 and had an allocated budget of € 500,000. Subsequently on Yeats’ Day June 13th – Jimmy Deenihan TD, former Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, formally launched the Yeats 2015 initiative.

W.B. Yeats 2015 Website Development Call – “The Wild Atlantic Poet”

Friday, August 1st, 2014

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has issued a ‘Request for Quotation’ for the development of a website specifically focused on the year-long Yeats 2015 celebration. The tender call opened on the 30th of July and will close on the 22nd of August, after which time, selected proposers will be invited for interview.

The WDC, which is the regional authority responsible for the promotion of economic and social development of the Western Region, has been central in engaging with and developing unique, creative sector-focused initiatives. These projects and supports include the ‘Creative Edge’ export platform and the Micro-Loan fund for creative SMEs in the Western region.

Yeats 2015 is a key element of the WDC’s development plan, as a year-long celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of the internationally renowned literary figure’s birth. It is estimated that the Yeats 2015 programme, which will encompass a significant range of artistic and cultural events, will draw up to 85,000 additional visitors to Ireland.

Speaking about the upcoming celebration earlier today, the WDC’s Acting CEO and Head of Regional Development, Ian Brannigan stated: “Yeats 2015 will form part of the national decade of commemoration and will draw visitors from international locations as diverse as Japan, America and the UK. Yeats has connections all around the world – from societies to festivals – and of course, his strong academic following. Yeats 2015 will be a year which showcases Ireland, through the prism of Yeats and his legacy. Additionally it is intended to drive international interest in initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way through connecting them with W.B. Yeats who may justifiably be called the Wild Atlantic Poet.”

The Yeats 2015 website has been highlighted as a central requirement for successful promotion of the Yeats 2015 programme and will provide an interactive portal for the celebrations’ events, relevant contacts for visitors and a wealth of other information. “We’re actively seeking tenders from qualified proposers, skilled in content creation and creativity in online development. All details can be found on the E-tenders portal”.

For those interested in obtaining more information regarding the Yeats 2015 website tender call, it may be viewed online at Further information in relation to the WDC and Yeats 2015 is available via and


Notes to Editor:

The Yeats 2015 initiative was formally announced by the former Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan T.D., at the ‘Yeats Day’ Launch on June 13th 2014.

Yeats 2015 will be a year-long national and international celebration of the life and works of the Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler Yeats. It will mark 150 years since his birth on June 13th 1865.

The Vision of Yeats 2015 is that “Yeats 2015 will celebrate and commemorate the life, work, influence and achievements of W.B. Yeats. Through an engaging, celebratory and cultural programme, it will showcase Ireland as a dynamic, inspiring and creative place”.

The year-long celebrations will be rooted in Sligo – Yeats’ ‘spiritual home’ – and connect with every county across Ireland. The celebrations will draw people to Ireland to begin to understand what inspired him and to share that experience. It is intended that institutions and organisations from around Ireland and the world will partner with Yeats 2015 and offer a diverse and rewarding series of events to acknowledge and celebrate the range and depth of his work and that of his family.

Yeats 2015 partners will span the literary, cultural, creative, historical and academic worlds. Through Yeats 2015, Ireland will make a bold statement to the world about our rich cultural heritage and showcase our contemporary cultural wealth.

Contact Details:

Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development and CEO(a) WDC:

Mary Keaveney, WDC: – 094 9861441

Karan Thompson, Yeats 2015: – 086 2550291

Urban centres – most important workplace for Rural Dwellers

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

43.5% of rural dwellers work in urban areas while 37% work in rural areas. For the rural population, commuting to jobs in urban centres is the most important source of employment. That is according to a new Western Development Commission (WDC) Policy Briefing published today, ‘Commuting to Work: Rural Dwellers, Urban Jobs’.

In 2011, 35.5% of workers in Ireland lived in rural areas, but just 21.3% of all jobs were located there.  The WDC Policy Briefing notes that

  • nearly one in five (19%) of all rural dwellers commute to work in one of the nine NSS gateways; and
  • one in four (24.4%) commute to work in towns

Mr. Paddy McGuinness, Chair of WDC said, “This report shows that without alternatives closer to home, many rural dwellers commute to work over long distances. This highlights the need for job creation strategies to focus on where people live, in rural areas and towns across the country, and not just on the larger cities’. Without greater efforts to disperse employment growth there is likely to be more pressure on rural dwellers to commute or move to take up jobs in the larger gateways”.

Deirdre Frost, WDC Policy Analyst noted “A skilled workforce is a key condition for regional development. This briefing shows that this exists in many rural areas. Towns should be recognised as having access to this well-educated labour supply and the capacity to host new enterprises”.

This WDC Policy Briefing also shows the importance of employment in multinationals, for example

  • over a quarter of rural dwellers commuting to work in the Galway (25.6%) and Waterford (24.9%) gateways, work in IDA business parks
  • over 18% of rural dwellers commuting to work in Sligo work in IDA business parks


  • The Gateways are the nine National Spatial Strategy Gateways of Dublin, Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway, Waterford, Dundalk, Sligo, Letterkenny/(Derry) and Athlone/Tullamore/Mullingar.
  • Towns are those population centres of 1,500 and above and excluding the nine NSS gateways.
  • Rural is defined using the CSO classification where settlements with a population of less than 1,500 and open countryside are defined as rural.


For further information please contact:

Deirdre Frost, Western Development Commission, 094 986 1441 or 086 605 3317

The full report may be accessed on

Note on WDC Policy Briefings:

This Policy Briefing ‘Commuting to Work: Rural Dwellers, Urban Jobs’ is the sixth in a series of WDC Policy Briefings to highlight and provide discussion and analysis of key regional policy issues. It is an objective statistical resource for people and organisations who are interested in the Western Region’s future.

The WDC will be publishing further Policy Briefings throughout 2014 on a range of policy issues.

Notes to editors on the Western Development Commission (WDC)

The WDC is the statutory body promoting economic and social development in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare.

The WDC’s strategic goals are:

  1. Contribute to balanced regional development by ensuring that the Western Region maximises its full potential for economic and social development.
  2. Promote the benefits of living, working and doing business in the Western Region.
  3. Support the sustainable economic and social development of the rural economy.
  4. Provide risk capital to SMEs and social enterprises. and

Western Development Commission lead €1 million investment in Sligo based health food company Good4U

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Investment will fund development of a new seed roasting and R&D facility in Sligo and create 25 new jobs

Good4U, the award winning Sligo based health food company, has secured a €1 million investment in a funding round from Western Development Fund, Enterprise Ireland, AIB and internal investment from the company.


The €1 million investment, combined with increased sales and new business opportunities, will fuel the expansion of Good4U by facilitating the opening of a new R&D and production headquarters in Finisklin Business Park in Sligo and lead to the creation of 25 new positions over the next two years.

Founded in 2004, Good4U is a family business established by Bernie Butler and her daughters Laura, sales and marketing manager, and Michelle, a certified dietician and nutritionist, and son Karol, the company’s financial controller. The family have pioneered the development and marketing of a unique range of functional foods including fresh ready-to-eat sprouted seeds, wheatgrass products and roasted seed snacks and ingredients.   Supersprouts and Brocco Shoots are the company’s platform product, and these consist of an innovative mix of sprouted broccoli, alfalfa, clover and radish seeds which have been proven in research from the University of Ulster to have anti-cancer properties.

Good4U’s other manufacturing facility based in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone employs 18 people.  This is where Good4U will produce a wide range of sprouted seeds for the retail and foodservice sectors. Capacity at this site is more suited to sprouted seed production and relocating the roasted seed operation to Sligo will increase capacity for sprouted seed production in the Tyrone plant by over 50%.

Good4U’s current customers include Tesco UK & Ireland. Supervalu, Centra, Marks & Spencer’s UK and Ireland, Sainsbury’s UK, and independent customers in the UAE and Russia.  In addition, the company is in advanced discussions with Spar and other major UK retailers. Export sales to countries where research indicates high demand for healthy snack alternatives such as Spain, Sweden, France and the USA are also actively being pursued. The company’s exciting New Product pipeline will be instrumental in winning new business and will account for other sales opportunities ensuring the growth of the company.

Geraldine McLoughlin, Investment Executive, Western Development Commission, said:

“This is a great opportunity for the Western Development Commission to invest in a very exciting company. Good4U has an experienced and successful management team who have built up a very strong recognisable brand with an excellent track record of innovation and new product development. This company will also be directly employing 25 people in Sligo which is great news for the local area.  So, as well as the Western Development Commission investment making good commercial sense, having such a high calibre business in the Western Region will contribute to the area’s vibrant indigenous enterprise base.”

Commenting on the investment, Bernie Butler, Managing Director of Good4U, said:

“Winning the support of the Western Development Commission, Enterprise Ireland and AIB has made our Sligo expansion possible. Underpinning our success is our ability to innovate and lead the market with products that meet and exceed consumer expectations. Today, more than ever, it is about building partnerships and aligning ourselves with people who believe and share our vision. A real measure of this has been the energy, courage, passion and commitment shown by all concerned in the negotiation process. The Good4U brand, combined with an excellent track record, loyal supportive customers and skilled staff will be instrumental in delivering our ambitious plans.  We are truly excited about this project and what the future holds”


For further media information, please contact:
Lisa Buckley or Breda Brown, Unique Media
Tel: (353 1) 522 5200 or (353 87) 122 9774 (LB)

About Western Development Commission

The WDC’s Western Investment Fund (WIF) is a €32 million Evergreen Fund providing seed, venture capital and loan finance on a commercial basis to SMEs and Social Enterprises within the WDC area of Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon.
The WIF has a very diverse portfolio across a range of sectors including medtech and lifesciences, cleantech, ICT, manufacturing and internationally traded services, creative industries, food, tourism and social and economic infrastructure. 300 creative profiles and 30,000 visits – Showcasing the West of Ireland’s creative businesses internationally

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The website has just hit a key milestone with 300 creative people and businesses now showcasing their work and talent on the site. And with 30,000 visits since its launch in June, there’s clearly a strong demand for the West’s creativity.

Developed by the Western Development Commission (WDC) through the inter-regional Creative Edge project, MyCreativeEdge is the ‘Creative Showcase for Europe’s Northern Edge’. Over half of the 300 creative businesses on the site are based in the West of Ireland with the rest from Northern Ireland, Sweden and Finland.

Online marketing of MyCreativeEdge has been focused at home and overseas. Ireland, the US and England are the main sources of visits with over 5,000 from the US alone, many from the West’s diaspora.

“We have long sought to connect the abundant creative talent we have here in the region with global markets and through working together we are moving nicely towards this goal” said Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development for the WDC. “With the onset of the Holiday season we hope this gives a nudge to those looking to purchase a locally inspired gift to do so via”

You’ll find unique Christmas gift ideas on Discover crafters of ceramics, toys, glass, wood, felt, furniture and home accessories, as well as visual artists, jewellers, photographers and fashion designers of all types.

So, for something truly original this Christmas, check out MyCreativeEdge. And if you’d like to showcase your talent internationally, sign up at to create your free online profile.

MyCreativeEdge was developed under the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) funded Creative Edge project. For more details on the Creative Edge project visit


For more information contact:

Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development, WDC 086 604 8012


Pauline White, Policy Analyst WDC, 086 832 8055

WDC Chair gives update on organisation’s performance

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

What is the WDC?
In an era where acronyms are king, WDC stands for Western Development Commission.

So, what is the Western Development Commission?
The Western Development Commission is a statutory organisation which was set up in 1998. It operates under and reports to the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government. The general functions of the WDC are to ‘foster and encourage economic and social development in the Western Region’. Our remit covers the five counties in Connaught plus Donegal and Clare. In geographical terms the region encompasses 37% of the national land mass but only 18% of the national population. 68% of that 18% live outside of Gateway or Hub towns so it is clear that we are dealing with a predominately rural environment.

How is WDC Performing?
Broadly speaking the WDC has become the pre-eminent regional development agency in Ireland. Despite continued reductions in staff and finance we are performing well and delivering the goods. Since our inception we can claim to have influenced the creation or retention of 1,899 jobs.

In 2012 alone, an impressive total of 292 new jobs were created through WDC growth programmes.

Just a few examples of programmes launched in 2012: -

• Creative Industries Micro Loan Fund (€1m over 3 years) – This fund has supported over 60 jobs in its first year

• Regional tourism marketing plan (€1.4m) – This is a scheme initiated by WDC where several agencies have been brought together to market the region largely via Ireland West Airport Knock. The first year led to 13,000 new visitors delivering over €3m to the region’s economy

• Re-Connect Diaspora Programme (€23,000)- linking the region to the global diaspora. Initial events in the UK have led to over 40 new jobs e.g. Lafferty group investment in Mayo

• Creative Edge EU Export Growth Programme (€1.2m) – An innovative programme to help the region’s creative industry to access global markets. At time of launching the programme 66% of businesses in the sector had no contact with markets outside of Ireland. Today almost 200 businesses are linking to global customers through the website. We are aiming for hundreds of jobs in the near term and thousands by the end of the decade through this initiative.

• RASLRES Bio Tool Service Product Launch – contributing to an estimated 21 new businesses in the sector.

• On top of the foregoing recent initiatives, we have the on-going work of disbursing the Western Investment Fund. This fund has invested over €34m in 96 companies currently employing 1,600 people. These companies have paid over €43m in salaries and wages of which €11.8m has gone back to the national exchequer through payroll taxes.

• We continue to carry out strong policy and regional analysis which enables the state to invest in suitable “access infrastructure” to realise the regions potential for growth, e.g. energy, broadband and transport.

In summary, the WDC is a small yet highly dynamic and flexible organisation driven by a committed board working with highly motivated and professional staff. But there is a lot more that we need to undertake and achieve for the region. We are eager to take on that challenge. We are re-assured by having strong support from our national government and are confident of being given the additional resources which are required to play an expanded role in developing the region.

Further Information:

Ray McGreal, CEO
086 8125463

WDC Chairman Welcomes Reduced Fares on all Trains on Galway – Limerick Rail Line

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The Chairman of the Western Development Commission, Paddy McGuinness, has welcomed the recent announcement by Iarnród Éireann of special promotional fares on the Galway – Limerick route. These promotional fares will offer great value for customers travelling by train between Limerick and Galway, with fares reduced by over 50% in some instances.

Iarnród Éireann operates five services a day each way on the route between Limerick and Galway. Services are operated by trains equipped with free wi-fi, and the schedule gives options to daily commuters, to leisure and to business users between the two cities. The company also plans to introduce online booking for services on the route in the coming weeks.

Mr. McGuinness also welcomed the opening of services at Oranmore Station. The station now hosts a total of 23 services daily including trains to Galway/Athenry/Limerick. The journey time between Galway and Oranmore is just seven minutes. There has been significant growth of 17% in the numbers of rail commuters between Athenry and Galway since the re-opening of the line in 2010. It is anticipated that the numbers availing of the services will grow further with the opening of Oranmore Station.

“WDC warmly welcomes the reduced fares and the additional options for travel between Galway and Limerick and we encourage people to avail of the services. We commend Iarnród Éireann for the recent initiatives and suggest that usage of the services would be further boosted if journey times were reduced and if inter-city rolling stock was used as recommended in last year’s Goodbody’s report” said Mr. McGuinness.

“We recognise the importance of rail, road, air and sea infrastructure. We realise that no region can compete for new jobs or hope for economic viability without good modern efficient connections to markets. The West of Ireland has, for too long, lagged behind in all four forms of transport. We will be working hard over the next few months on a campaign to convince both the EU and our own Government to put plans and resources in place to redress the current regional imbalance in infrastructure” concluded McGuinness.

For further information please contact:
Raymond McGreal CEO
Western Development Commission


Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has launched its fifth call for funding applicants under its Micro-Loan Fund for Creative Industries. The fund has already had four very successful calls and has disbursed €160,000 to creative businesses in the Western Region and looks forward to increasing its disbursals into 2014.

The fund is a pilot initiative, allocating €1m over a three year period from the Western Investment Fund to the creative industries sector.

The Micro-Loan Fund will operate on a competitive ‘Call for Applications’ basis with four calls in 2013, the fourth of which is currently open. Loans of between €5,000 and €25,000 are available to successful applicants. Applications will be accepted from the first working day to the last working day of each quarter (March, June, September and December).

Ms Gillian Buckley, Investment Manager with the WDC said “The fund is designed to support creative industries which, based on extensive WDC research, is an area of burgeoning growth potential within the region. Access to finance is an issue for Creative Industries and, as such, the fund seeks to ameliorate this issue through the provision of a timely and appropriate funding mechanism. The initiative points to the WDC’s commitment to enterprise development, and its focus on regional sustainability and growth through employment, enterprise and export.”

Creative Industries are defined as “occupations and industries centered on creativity, for the production and distribution of original goods and services”.

The following 12 creative industries make up the creative sector and businesses from these sectors are eligible to apply: -

Art/Antiques trade
Digital media
Internet and software
Music, visual and performing arts
Radio and TV broadcasting
Video, film and photography

Further details at:

Gillian Buckley, Investment Manager, Western Development Commission, 087 2236 982

Douglas Hyde Conference 2013

Friday, October 18th, 2013

On Friday 25th October the 2013, the Douglas Hyde Conference will take place in the BMW Conference Room, Dillon House, Ballaghaderreen for a one day event.

Roscommon County Council, supported by the Western Development Commission, once again brings together a number of leading thinkers, academics, commentators and speakers to discuss and debate this year’s theme of: Gathering Ourselves Again: the Legacy of Douglas Hyde, the Life and Death of the Irish Language

The Conference Convenor and Chair, Theo Dorgan, says: “The Douglas Hyde Conference has been, for many years, a source — an event where the key issues of the day and of the near future are raised and debated. This year we remember the role that the Irish language revival sparked by Douglas Hyde played in rebuilding national confidence, not just in the cultural but also in the political sphere. One hundred years after that cultural and political ferment, the Irish language is still a sore spot in the national psyche — hovering between extinction and revival, a goad to the conscience of some, a living medium of identity to others. There has been too much pious lip service to the language, and too much quiet despair. The Douglas Hyde Conference this year looks squarely and fearlessly at two key questions: is it time to let the language die a natural death, or is it possible to conceive a new strategy of pride in the language?

To drive this year’s debate we have assembled a panel of speakers notable for their passion, intelligence, and fearless imaginations. We see this event confronting a crucial element in the ongoing, urgent national debate about who we want to be as a people. This year we make a particular plea not just to language activists, Irish speakers and the academic community to come and be part of the debate, we also invite all those for whom the question of what it means to be Irish has become a key question as we struggle to recover from catastrophe.”

Date: Friday 25th October 2013Venue: BMW Conference Room, The Square, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. Time: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (Registration from 9.00 am to 10.00am)

Trad. music in Spells Bar, Ballaghaderreen on Thursday 24th October and Friday 25th October.

Further details on or by contacting  and to Mary Mullins at


Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

WDC launches BioPAD- a European Bioenergy Project

Local bioenergy markets provide significant opportunities for rural and remote areas, stimulating the local economy creating jobs and keeping payments for energy within the local community. Using bioenergy improves security of energy supply and reduces CO2 emissions. Bioenergy is a renewable energy resource, which is derived from any organic material (biomass), including energy crops, wood, and organic waste.

In Donegal last week Joe McHugh, TD launched BioPAD- a bioenergy project focussing on the development of local bioenergy supply chains. “This project provides us with great opportunities to share experiences of bioenergy development with Scotland and Northern Ireland, and for us all to benefit from the significant expertise of Finland in the sector.” Deputy McHugh said last week, “I am particularly excited about the local benefits that bioenergy brings, keeping money in our local economy and providing jobs all along the supply chain.”

BioPAD (Bioenergy Proliferation and Deployment) is a multi-national European bio-energy project, funded by the Northern Periphery Programme which seeks to grow the number of local businesses involved in bioenergy, both as suppliers and users it led by the Western Development Commission (WDC), Ireland with partners in Finland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland,

The project focuses on the links between supply of fuel and demand for energy by analysing supply chains for a variety of bioenergy fuels and different ways of converting these fuels into sustainable energy.

“Understanding the supply chains and the ways bioenergy moves from fuel source to energy provision will help the establishment of robust and efficient supply services which can match local demand.” said Helen McHenry, the BioPAD project co-ordinator.

“We see BioPAD as a way of enabling rural areas to use their natural resources to create sustainable economic development and help Ireland reach emission’s targets in the process,” she added, “Jobs created in bioenergy are spread across the entire supply chain from private forest owners, to haulage companies, to plumbing, engineering, and electrical companies.”

BioPAD aims to gain a better understanding of the current status of regional biomass supply chains for a range of biomass types including wood products, energy crops, and agricultural wastes. The project will develop tools to enable users to source and use locally available biomass, across a range of appropriate technologies (anaerobic digestion, combustion, or micro combined heat and power (CHP)). The tools will highlight key steps along the supply chain for each fuel type or conversion method and will be available in a variety of formats (e.g. web, mobile and app).

Speaking last week at the project launch, Mr Paddy McGuinness, Chairperson of the WDC said: “The WDC is delighted to be leading the RASLRES project which goes to the heart of the local community by using local resources and local people to provide a complete solution for renewable energy. The project will stimulate growth in the renewable energy sector, which will benefit local communities by promoting their independence and sustainability and creating local jobs for future generations.”

If you are interested in bioenergy and would like to know more about BioPAD or are part of a bioenergy supply chain visit


For more information contact:

Helen McHenry, BioPAD project co-ordinator, WDC 086 605 3264
Ian Brannigan, Head of Regional Development, WDC 086 604 8012