Areas of potential growth for Kilkenny were the subject of a recent address by Environment Minister Phil Hogan to the Kilkenny Rotary Club.
On the subject of food and tourism, the minister emphasised that while Kilkenny has a strong reputation as a food and tourism destination, “we cannot stand still” and this is the time to take that reputation a step further. Developing Kilkenny in this sector requires well planned and iconic projects in the city, centred on the river Nore and the city’s many medieval locations.
Retail regeneration is also something that could give a boost to the city, as “we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the availability of the brewery site and the old mart site,” according to the minister. These sites, he said “would be ideal locations for new international brands to bring back customers that Kilkenny have lost to other regional centres.”
Crucial to sustainable growth as well is third-level education, he said, noting that official approval for a university for the South East is reaching the final stage. “I recently met both Carlow and Waterford IT bosses and I discovered that for the first time ever, there is now a great spirit of cooperation in the region with both colleges working very closely together,” he said. “All of this will greatly enhance the current third-level activity in the city by NUI Maynooth.”
In the wake of this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival, he also highlighted the city’s aim to grow a cultural quarter, including a €5.6 million allocation from the Department of the Environment towards a new Kilkenny city and county library service.
Growth overall requires investment by the state, he said, including its water and sewerage facilities, and he promised: “In three years time, Kilkenny will have the cleanest water in the country.”
Minister Hogan also highlighted recent developments in the city, including the opening of the WIT research and innovation centre at St Kieran’s College, the creation of 220 jobs by HCL Technologies, the upgrading of services at St Luke’s Hospital, and the transfer of army personnel from Clonmel to Kilkenny’s James Stephens Military Barracks.