Empowering Kilkenny Businesses and Communities

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) is delighted to announce the launch of the new LEADER programme 2023 – 2027, aimed at fostering community development and supporting business innovation in County Kilkenny.  The official launch event will take place on April 15th, 2024, at the Medieval Mile Museum in Kilkenny, commencing at 1:00 pm.

County Kilkenny has been allocated €6.1 million from the combined EU and national government budget to invest in local communities and small businesses.  KLP, which has over 33 years of experience in the direct delivery of the LEADER programme in Kilkenny as an EU ‘Local Action Group’, remains focused on enhancing the wellbeing and quality of life of Kilkenny residents.  In that the LEADER Partnership remains dedicated to supporting community “bottom-up” initiatives and with fostering innovative projects to lead and inspire rural development.


Many of the initiatives in the new 5-year Local Development Strategy (LDS) are freshly conceived, while some seek to build upon the work and successes of previous LEADER programmes.  In preparation for the implementation of the new programme, KLP conducted a series of public and stakeholder consultations, providing a platform for local communities, businesses, and interest groups to voice their needs and priorities.  These consultations involved over 40 separate meetings and were spread over six months.  The exhaustive process yielded invaluable insights, directly shaping the development of KLP’s new LEADER LDS and its 35 Strategic Actions, offering creative solutions to local challenges.


The previous LEADER programme, which has just closed- has seen important achievements in County Kilkenny that were recognised nationally and EU.  One notable success was the Broadband Blue Town initiative, which enabled the dual-award-winning work of Piltown-Fiddown’ Broadband 4 Our Community (B4OC), which successfully initiated the installation of a ‘Fibre to the Premises’ (FTTP) broadband network for their community in 2020-2021.


As a result of the achievement of the huge ambition, B4OC won both major Irish national and EU awards for their project.  The project was driven by community investment and voluntary labour, and the network is as a result owned by the community, with all profits being reinvested in the project- and in time other community initiatives.  It serves as a model for future broadband initiatives- both in Kilkenny and nationally.


Additionally, the Smart Villages initiative (which B4OC’s broadband project fits under), underscores KLP’s commitment to exploring innovative avenues for enhancing economic, social, and cultural opportunities for the people and small enterprises of the county.  Other elements of the Smart Village initiative included the Energy Towns projects achievements in both Callan and Graiguenamanagh.  Here community installed and owned renewable energy projects, similarly to Piltown’s broadband project, are changing the game for communities taking charge of their futures: they’ve become kings and queens rather than pawns in the game..


There are many more achievements and stories to be told on the 2016- 2023 programme, from the innovation of the Nore Vision’s approach to our waterways; the pioneering work on the South East Greenway research and planning; the initial driving and support of the communities work on the creation of the hugely successful Graiguenamanagh Outdoor Hub, to mentoring and supporting of community shops/ cafes in Windgap and Muckalee- and many more projects of strategic impact: hugely benefitting their immediate communities- and inspiring many more.


The new LEADER programme aims to build upon these achievements, continuing support where needs be- and introducing a wave of new ideas and initiatives where that’s required.  KLP plans to ensure that rural areas are supported to realise their potential as Smart Villages- that can complement and live beside the larger towns and cities of the region.  KLP eagerly anticipates collaborating with communities and businesses as the new programme unfolds.  Whether you have an idea for a new business venture or a community project, KLP welcomes your input and looks forward to working together to bring these ideas to fruition.