Kilkenny LEADER Partnership begins search for Kilkenny ‘Town of Food’


  • Up to €775,000 of grant aid & supports available to Winning town
  • Judging panel  includes entrepreneur Bobby Kerr


THE search is on for Kilkenny’s ‘Town of Food’, a community that will showcase the best of the county’s food culture and work together to deliver food-related education and training programs.


Kilkenny LEADER Partnership has long been committed to placing Kilkenny at the forefront of Ireland’s quality food culture revolution. It’s now going one step further with the groundbreaking ‘Town of Food’ programme. Among the expert judging panel is former Dragon’s Den judge and renowned Kilkenny-born entrepreneur, Bobby Kerr, owner of the Insomnia coffee chain.


The timeline for the competition is tight and to be eligible, a town must be a rural town or village with a population of at least 500 people. The winning town would potentially be eligible for:

  • Up to €500,000 of grant aid for capital works
  • LEADER support and grant aid of up to €100,000 towards a three year program of food related training and education courses.
  • Marketing costs of up to €75,000 towards the promotion of the ‘Town of Food’ concept.
  • Up to €50,000 towards operating the marketing plan over a two year period.
  • Up to €50,000 over a 30-month period towards a Coordinator for the project.
  • The continued support of the dedicated Kilkenny Food Strategy Coordinator to ensure the success of the project.


Applicants must impress the judging panel with their vision for creating their’ Town of Food’, including explaining plans for any buildings and food-related training programmes. They must show how they can lead the integration of local food culture into the tourism strategy of the county, and develop a commercially viable business plan for the project as a whole.


Food matters, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership CEO, Declan Rice, explained. “How a county or region values the role of food in its society is important. Kilkenny LEADER Partnership has developed a long-term food strategy, ‘Growing a Local Food Economy’. One of the critical elements of this strategy is the development of local food culture in the towns and villages of Kilkenny.


“The ‘Town of Food’ competition represents an opportunity for business, agriculture, community and voluntary sectors to work together and reap the benefits of an integrated food development plan,” the CEO added.


The closing date for expressions of interest is February 6 and the final day for submission of application forms is February 27. The winner will be announced on March 6.


Judge Bobby Kerr says Kilkenny already has the now internationally-renowned Savour Kilkenny Festival of Food and an amazing Food. “Kilkenny food producers, manufacturers and consumers are very passionate about their food. The food culture here continues to grow and we have been setting the standard nation-wide.


“The chosen ‘Town of Food’ will receive unrivalled financial supports. But just as important will be the continued support of the dedicated Food Strategy Coordinator to ensure the success of the project and make it sustainable into the future. Competition will be intense but we’re no strangers to intense competition in Kilkenny,” Mr Kerr said.


Kilkenny’s Food Strategy Coordinator, Kilian Duignan, said applicants must be able to demonstrate how the business, community and voluntary sectors can work together to develop a food culture within their community .“Over the coming weeks I will be working closely with applicants to help them develop a vision for their town of food”.