The local community in Rathangan will be hosting a Family Fun Day this Sunday (June 22nd) beside Rathangan Hall. The Fun Day will start at 2:00pm and will have lots of activities for all the family, particularly the younger generations. The main event of the Family Fun Day will be a ceremony to officially open their new walking track at 3:00pm. The official opening will be performed by Mr. Pat Rath, Chairman of Wexford Local Development, in recognition of the role WLD played in supporting the development of this walking track and other facilities in Rathangan.
The communities who are most successful in developing sustainable community facilities over the long term are those who can build strong working relationships with local funding agencies. Rathangan Parish Hall Committee has a very strong relationship with Wexford Local Development and the fruits of that relationship can be seen all around us now in Rathangan.
When Rathangan Parish Hall Committee was reformed in 2000 the local hall was lying vacant. The change in the appearance of the hall and its central role in the community today is a testament to those committee members who have worked to redevelop it over the past 14 years. Wexford Local Development has been proud to work with the committee for each stage of that development.
Under the previous LEADER programmes we provided over €50,000 to help with the renovations to the hall and to develop the carpark. Under the most recent LEADER programme we were able to offer almost €20,000 in grant aid to carry out further upgrades to the hall and stage area. We were also able to offer €3,000 in grant aid to help develop a book on the history of the local area which was launched 2 years ago.
This walking track is the latest project we have been able to support in partnership with Rathangan Parish Hall Committee. A facility like this is a substantial undertaking for a community and Wexford Local Development were happy to offer grant aid of over €35,000 to cover 75% of the cost of this development.
One of the difficulties for walkers is finding a safe environment to walk. In many communities the only place available to walk is on the public road, which can be dangerous because of high levels of traffic. Numerous communities in Co. Wexford have listened to the needs of their local residents for safe walking facilities and they have approached Wexford Local Development with the idea of developing similar walking tracks. We have responded to the needs of these communities and were able to offer them similar levels of grant aid to develop local walking tracks. In each case these walking tracks have proved hugely popular and in just a short period of time have become one of the most used facilities in each community. These walking tracks are well lit and allow members of the local community to meet and walk without worrying about meeting fast and dangerous cars on the roads.
Wexford Local Development has supported many communities such as Rathangan from all over Co. Wexford to improve the facilities available to local people. We have been administering the current LEADER Programme in Co. Wexford since 2009. In that 5 year period we have offered grant aid of over €1½ million to local communities under our Basic Services measure for local community halls and grant aid of over €1.2 million for local village renewal projects, such as walking tracks. As this is 75% funding and the local communities raise the other 25% we have been able to help to inject over €3.8 million into capital projects in local communities over the past 5 years. Most of that money has gone to local contractors and we can safely say that local communities such as Rathangan, working in partnership with Wexford Local Development, have not only helped to improve their locality but have also helped to sustain employment in the local construction sector at a time when this support has never been needed more.