Panel discussion at ‘a creative momentum project’ closing event

On Thursday 12 April our lunchtime ‘closing event’ for ‘a creative momentum project’ took place at Electric Galway. Following a number of presentations about the project’s outputs, we held a panel discussion on ‘Creativity & Peripherality in the West of Ireland – how does the picture look?’ featuring creative entrepreneurs and support agencies from across the West of Ireland.

Pat Collins, NUI Galway;
Ruth Graham, Ruth Graham Illustration;
Éamonn O’Sullivan, Hewn Spoons;
Sarah Dillon, Development Manager, The WRAP Fund;
Sallyann Marron, Sallyann’s Bags;
Manus Burke, Howling Hamster;
Siobhán Mulcahy, Co Clare Arts Officer

Chaired by Leitrim-based designer Leo Scarff, the panel discussion covered a range of issues facing creative enterprises operating from the West of Ireland. The discussion opened with the four creative entrepreneurs sharing their experiences.

For more information please click here

Sarah Dillon appointed as new Development Manager of the WRAP Fund

Galway Film Centre is delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Dillon as the Development Manager of The WRAP Fund. The Western Regional Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (WRAP) is an initiative of Galway Film Centre and the Western Development Commission in association with the local authorities of Clare, Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo along with Údarás na Gaeltachta, set up to support film, television, animation and gaming industries in the region.

Having worked as part of the core creative team with the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann for over ten years, Ms Dillon has gained an in-depth knowledge of the Irish and international audiovisual industries. She brings with her a complete understanding of the process of development, financing, production and distribution as well as an extremely diverse network of contacts from local and international content producers to financiers, sales agents and distributors.

The role will include the promotion of the WRAP Fund to identify suitable projects, evaluating applications for funding, and supporting local producers and talent to grow and advance their projects within the audio-visual sector.

Celine Curtin, chair of Galway Film Centre, added “We are delighted that we can announce that someone of Sarah’s calibre has taken up this new position. She has a wealth of experience across feature film, television drama and animation and has been involved in multiple projects from script to screen, and we see her appointment as an important step forward in the development of the creative industries in the West.”

Ian Brannigan, Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission, commented: “We knew from when we first started exploring the idea of a regional support fund with Galway Film Centre that it was crucial that we find the right individual to take the helm. Sarah has a very broad skill set from assessing scripts to complex contracting, and has many existing strong relationships in the audio-visual industry, which will serve her well in her new role. We wish her all the best and are very pleased that we can now say that the WRAP Fund is officially open for business.”

Ms Dillon will take up her new appointment at the beginning of April and the first call for applications to The WRAP Fund will be announced in the coming months.
See also:
#WRAPfund #CeantarScannán

#WestCommutes Photo Competition

Swim, hike or kite surf to work? Do you avoid traffic jams and packed trains by commuting on horseback or climbing into a canoe? Regularly get stuck in livestock traffic jams?

If your commute is out of the ordinary, we’d like to see what it looks like and hear about your experiences. Show us with your pictures or videos why living and working in the West offers an incredible quality of life.

We have a brilliant prize to give away for the best entry.

How To Enter:

  1. Snap a photo or video of your West of Ireland journey
  2. Upload a photo (or video) to social media using the #WestCommutes + #County hashtags e.g. #WestCommutes #Galway
  3. Tag our @LookWestie accounts in your post. (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook)
  4. You can also enter your photo via the form at the end of this page.


One Region One Vision Conference Video Highlights

For 2018 the Western Region will be recognised as European Entrepreneurial Region. Recognising the success of our indigenous and small enterprises. Our commitment to innovation will see us become one of the most resilient places in Europe.

The One Region One Vision Conference took place in Galway on November 28th.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) was delighted to collaborate on this conference with the North Western Regional Assembly.

According to the CEO of the WDC , Ian Brannigan, “The Western region is entering a period of real growth and as such the bringing together of key regional stakeholders and businesses is essential to optimise this opportunity. The One region One vision provides a forum for change for the region “.

One Region One Vision celebrated achievement, whilst also promoting investment in our competitiveness through Structural Funds and launching our Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy. The Conference was concluded by the Chairperson of the WDC Dr Deirdre Garvey.

So get your 2018 moving by watching the One Region One Vision inspirational speakers including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Harry Hughes of PortWest, Mary Rodgers (Portershed), Adrian Weckler (INM) and many more.


Loans available for community and not-for-profit groups at lower interest rate

  • The Western Development Commission (WDC) reduces interest rate on its Community Loan Fund to 3%
  • The fund has supported 43 projects and 867 jobs in 10 years

The Western Development Commission (WDC) will reduce the interest rate it charges on its Community Loan Fund to 3% from January 1.

This lower interest rate — down from 5% — will be available for community projects and social enterprises in the Western Region.

The fund has supported 43 projects over the 10 years since it was launched and it also supports 867 jobs, representing people employed by or in the various projects, in the Western Region.

Each year, more than 300,000 people use the facilities and/or centres supported by the fund, run by the WDC.

The WDC is a statutory body that was set up to promote both social and economic development in the Western Region. It covers Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.

The WDC’s Community Loan Fund has been designed to offer community and not-for-profit groups access to capital to help these groups improve the socio-economic life of their community.

Many projects can be supported — from job creation initiatives, including the provision of enterprise space, to health and wellbeing initiatives, which improve the physical environment by providing social and recreational amenities or social care services.

Gillian Buckley, Western Development Commission, Investment Manager, said:

“The WDC is offering this low interest rate as it understands how important community projects and social enterprises are to their communities and the region. The loans can be used to create much needed social and economic facilities, such as social housing, childcare, eldercare, sports and recreation and many other projects. This low interest rate will help make these projects more sustainable by reducing the cost of repayments. The loans can also be used to provide and support employment opportunities and attract tourists to rural areas.”

 For more information, contact Gillian Buckley on + 353 87 2236 982


  • Organisations applying for the Community Loan Fund now will be granted the reduced interest rate of 3%.
  • The WDC Community Loan Fund supports 867 jobs. This number represents those employed by or in the projects e.g. some projects supported are enterprise centres, so the number includes some people employed in those enterprise centres.


More people living in the Western Region now leave the Region for work

More people living in the Western Region now leave the Region for work – analysis of Census data by the WDC shows

  • 7 out of every 10 workers (71.5%) living in the Western Region, work within the Region a decline since 2011 when 73.2% of workers in the Western Region found work in the Region.
  • Over 4,200 Western Region residents travel to work in Dublin, up by 16.9% since 2011.
  • In 2016 there was a net loss of 17,565 workers who leave the Region to work elsewhere.
  • Compared to 2011, this is an increase in the number of workers leaving the Region to work, when there was a net loss of -14,939 residents working outside of the Region.

 Of the workplace destinations outside the Western Region, the five counties of Limerick (7,948), Westmeath (4,500), Dublin (4,258), Derry (2,986) and Longford (1,730) are the most significant workplaces.

 Over 4,500 workers living in the Western Region work abroad (4,661).

Some specific county findings available at the links below:

Donegal: Close to 3,000 County Donegal residents work in Derry. (2,965).

Donegal Download the WDC Insights County Donegal Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

Galway city has a net gain of nearly 16,000 workers, of which a large proportion is likely to come from county Galway where there was a net loss of just over 16,000. Galway City Download the WDC Insights Galway City Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

County Galway: One quarter of County Galway residents (25.3%) work in Galway city. Download the WDC Insights Galway County Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

Leitrim: In 2016, 14.3% of workers in County Leitrim lived in County Roscommon. Download the WDC Insights County Leitrim Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

Mayo: County Dublin was the place of work for 579 County Mayo residents in 2016. Download the WDC Insights County Mayo Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

Roscommon: Over 1,000 (1,034) workers in County Roscommon live in County Galway. Download the WDC Insights County Roscommon Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

 Sligo: Apart from Galway city, County Sligo was the only area with a net gain in working population in 2016 (+528). Download the WDC Insights County Sligo Place of Residence and Place of Work here (PDF 0.2MB each):

 According to Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, “The trends suggest that while there is an increase in the number of Western Region residents in work, it is also clear that a greater number are commuting to work to places beyond the Western Region. Enterprise and employment policy should aim to provide more employment opportunities closer to where people live.”

 Download this WDC Insights

WDC and Local authorities meet to support the Western Regional Audio-visual Producer’s Fund (The WRAP Fund )

Following the recent launch by Minister Sean Kyne of the WRAP fund (12/10/2017), today in the WDC offices, Ballaghaderreen, representatives from Donegal, Roscommon, Clare, Galway county and the Galway Film Centre , met to discuss how best to collectively progress the implementation of the fund within the west of Ireland region.

The Western Regional Audio-visual Producer’s Fund (The WRAP Fund ) is a financial mechanism to promote job creation in the region and to assist creative producers in the sector to overcome the challenges of operating in a highly competitive industry.

The WRAP Fund will support enterprise growth in the following four sub sectors in the creative industry:

• Film Production
• Television Content Production
• Animation Production
• Content Production for Gaming

The Chair of the Galway Film Centre (GFC), Celine Curtin stated that the WRAP fund was a “Unique fund “on the Island of Ireland that addresses not only the needs of the Film and TV sectors , but also those of “animation and the gaming sectors”. As such this may represent a competitive offering to support growth of existing and new entrants to these critical sectors.

Representing Donegal county council , Aideen Doherty, reiterated the need for the WRAP fund for the regional creatives , “absolutely we should do this “, stating also the need to use the opportunity afforded by the initiative to ensure a greater engagement of young people in the sector.

Whilst the WRAP fund is targeted primarily at supporting the sector in a financial manner, through the resources of the West’s very own Western Development Commission’s funds and those of the local authorities etc. it is hoped that the group will grow to also help grow the sector through indirect means. “The sector and local authorities have highlighted a number of issues that combine to also challenge the region’s growth in the film and related sectors“ stated Ian Brannigan , The acting CEO of the WDC , “However the great news is that solutions have also been identified, which the WDC is keen to assess further to see if significant growth can be unlocked”.

It should be noted that applications for the prestigious position of Development Manager for the WRAP Fund are currently being accepted.

For more details and Job Description please visit our Vacancies section at

From adversity to advantage: why 2018 could be a turning point for the West of Ireland

Conference to discuss ambition and resilience of the west and why more people are seeking escape from overheating Dublin

European Entrepreneurial Region 2018 ambassador to be Supermacs founder Pat McDonagh

The West of Ireland is offering more and more families an escape from the pressures of Dublin with a lifestyle and career to match, according to the organisers of a major conference showcasing entrepreneurialism in the region.

And with increased infrastructure such as new motorways and connectivity being put in place, the West will soon offer a viable counter-weight to the economic might of Ireland’s Dublin and Eastern region.

The One Region: One Vision conference to be held in Galway on November 28, will focus on a burgeoning movement in the West of Ireland – a growing band of entrepreneurs, business people and risk takers.

And with the region’s designation by the EU as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018, the qualities of ambition and resilience will be discussed and debated by speakers and delegates.

The event is organised by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly, the body which administers European Union funding in the western region, and by the Western Development Commission (WDC), the agency responsible for economic development of the Western region

Speakers at the Salthill Hotel will include leading business figures and entrepreneurs including Harry Hughes, Portwest CEO and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017.

The conference will hear that Dublin’s economic success has had an entirely unexpected impact on the West: it is potentially quickening the speed of economic development in rural Ireland as people seek an improved quality of life including cheaper housing and reasonable commuting times.

Conference attendees will include Westport-based Portwest CEO Harry Hughes, recently named the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2017 at the 20th annual awards in Dublin. The company, which he runs with his brothers Cathal and Owen, is a global safety provider that designs and manufactures specialist workwear.

Other confirmed speakers are John Breslin (co-founder Galway Innovation District), Group Technology Editor of Independent News & Media (INM) Adrian Weckler and Michelle Murphy, director of national recruitment agency Collins McNicholas.

NWRA Director David Minton said: “To be a great entrepreneur, you have to be a bit of a fortune teller, able to read the proverbial tea leaves and predict what your customers will want before they know they want it.

This conference, now in its second year, will showcase those people who do just that – the people who are job by job, enterprise by enterprise, helping to change the story here in the West of Ireland, helping to drive change and re-energise the region.

“More and more people are realising that not only is Dublin and the east becoming an unsustainably expensive place to live and grow families, it is also not prudent to rely on the capital to drive the national economic agenda. There needs to an alternative.”

Ian Brannigan, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “As we’re seeing in Ireland, local leadership and decision making is critical when it comes to creating economic growth and delivering jobs. We need to look to our communities to develop lasting growth for themselves and future generations.”

A key topic for discussion at the One Region: One Vision conference will be the EER 2018 designation. The ambassador for EER 2018 is to be Supermacs founder Pat McDonagh. Announced in Brussels by the EU’s Committee of the Regions, the award was given to the region because it has collectively developed policies that are transforming the area ‘from adversity to advantage’, in the process making it one of the most resilient and ambitious places in Europe.

NWRA director David Minton added: “This is an amazing honour and an opportunity for a part of Ireland that has been traditionally marginalised to emerge stronger and more attractive as a place to live and work for our young people. We are thrilled that an entrepreneur of the calibre of Pat McDonagh will be its ambassador.”.

Collins McNicholas director Michelle Murphy said: “The West is alive with innovative, creative, motivated and versatile entrepreneurs which is a truly amazing asset for our region in ensuring we keep our identity as a thriving, dynamic and attractive place to start and then grow a successful business.”

Registration is available on Eventbrite (One Region One Vision) and more information is available on and

MEDIA CONTACT: Ciaran Byrne at StoryLab on 01 685 3029

New WDC Insights publications: County Labour Markets

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has just published eight new WDC Insights publications.  Each examines the labour market of a Western Region county, with Galway City and County examined separately, based on data from Census 2016.

Each of the WDC Insights outlines the Principal Economic Status of the county’s adult population, compared with the State average, as well as the sectors where the county’s residents work and how this has changed since 2011.

Selected findings include:

  • Clare: Industry accounts for 15.5% of total employment among Clare’s residents compared with the state average of 11.4%.
  • Donegal: Employment in Accommodation & Food Service grew by almost 20% since 2011, compared with 13% growth nationally. The county has the third highest share working in the sector nationally.
  • Galway City: Information & Communications employs 6.1% of the city’s residents compared with a 4.5% national average. The sector grew 36% in the city between 2011 and 2016.
  • Galway County: 16.3% of Galway County’s residents work in Industry, the fourth highest share in the State. Employment growth in the sector since 2011 in Galway County (21%) was double the national average.
  • Leitrim: Health & Social Work is the largest employment sector in county Leitrim with 13.5% working the sector, greater than the 11.1% national average.
  • Mayo: Industry and Health & Social Work are both significantly more important employers in county Mayo than nationally and were the county’s two strongest growth sectors since 2011, up 14% and 16% respectively.
  • Roscommon: Health & Social Work experienced the strongest employment growth in Roscommon between 2011 and 2016 increasing by almost a quarter (24.4%).
  • Sligo: Sligo has the highest share of employment in the Health & Social Work sector in Ireland with 15.5% of Sligo residents working in the sector.

Examining the needs and issues of the Western Region through in-depth analysis is a key part of the work of the WDC.  This analysis of the labour market of each individual county should be useful for local authorities, community groups and businesses in each county in planning for the future. It is important that we more fully understand why some of the sectoral changes in employment are taking place in the western counties, and the impact that these are having.

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here


Vacancy for Development Manager of WRAP Fund

Applications for the prestigious position of Development Manager for the WRAP Fund are currently being accepted. The Western Regional Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (The WRAP Fund ) is a financial mechanism to promote job creation in the region and to assist creative producers in the sector to overcome the challenges of operating in a highly competitive industry. The WRAP Fund will support enterprise growth in the following four sub sectors in the creative industry:

  • Film Production
  • Television Content Production
  • Animation Production
  • Content Production for Gaming

For more details and Job Description please visit our Vacancies section at