Significant first steps are being taken by Údarás na Gaeltachta in the planning and development of Páirc na Mara, a new marine innovation park which is to be developed in Cill Chiaráin in the Conamara Gaeltacht of County Galway.
Páirc na Mara will be developed as a state of the art, low carbon, Marine Innovation Park, located on a greenfield site on the southern edge of the Conamara Gaeltacht approximately 45 miles west of Galway City. The site which will accommodate the Marine Innovation Park comprises approximately 9.01ha and will encompass a variety of marine related activities, where productive sector enterprises, public bodies, state development agencies and the research community will work together to add value to their products and services and to maximise the development potential of the marine sector in the region.
Údarás has engaged a group comprising of key strategic partners such as the Marine Institute, BIM, Galway County Council, the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the National University of Ireland Galway and the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology to formulate plans on a collaborative basis that will enable Údarás to develop a modern marine innovation park to help drive the growth of the sector and enable economic growth in the area, thus providing productive employment for future generations in this rural Gaeltacht area. The Carna/Cill Chiaráin area is an area which recent Census figures and other reports has termed as being disadvantaged and in need of support and employment.
Údarás na Gaeltachta is currently looking for expressions of interest (EOI) from potential project promoters in the marine sector who may be interested in establishing a presence at Páirc na Mara which will assist Údarás in preparing a suitable development plan for the site. An tÚdarás through its own resources has funded preparatory and enabling works on the development site and aim for this area to be identified as a prime location for consolidating, preserving, and growing Ireland’s ocean trade, maritime industries and industrial uses.
Joe McHugh T.D., Government Chief Whip and Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands commended the development for its local and national significance, “In line with stated government policy, the development of Páirc na Mara will drive the sustainable growth of the marine economy locally, within the region and the country. Údarás na Gaeltachta undertakes a vital role in the development of our rural Gaeltacht areas and I would hope that this project will provide significant investment and essential employment not only in this remote rural area of Conamara but in the broader region also.”
Michael Creed T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine welcomed the proposal’s initial steps, “The development of Páirc na Mara is an action of the Government’s strategy Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. Údarás na Gaeltachta’s proposal will drive innovation in the marine sector by creating a platform for cross-business and cross-sectoral collaboration and connecting people with different backgrounds, skills and perspectives. This will facilitate technical development, translating R&D potential into marine related products and markets, to generate new spin-off companies and support the overall growth process of SMEs in the sector.”
Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, CEO of Údarás na Gaeltachta has said “It is encouraging that the first steps of this project are now being taken for the benefit of the community and the region. We envisage that Páirc na Mara will be an attractive and secure place for investment and will help in the efforts to confirm to the world that Ireland is “open for business” as a “green and marine economy” in line with Harnessing Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland.”
Estimates prior to the completion of the EOI process place initial development costs of the park in the region of €3m-€5m which in turn would create the potential to attract multiples of that state funding in private investment from locating companies. It is envisaged that the development of marine related facilities and the supporting infrastructure will support the expansion and development of the marine resource in West Conamara and will become a key enabler for the development of the overall marine industry not only in Cill Chiaráin but also at a regional and national level.