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Building Rural Community Conference Set for Thurles


‘Building Rural Community – Lessons from Sport’ conference with Pat Spillane, Anna May McHugh, Michael Ryan, John Hayes and Padraig Giblin, March 29th Thurles

With rural Ireland experiencing population declines of 20% and more over the past five years compared to urban growth of up to 8%, it’s clear that the urban migration and emigration trend continues unabated.

While much depends on Government to follow through on promises of correcting the slide, there’s an equal onus on all who live in and care for rural Ireland to be creative and innovative so that we reimagine and build communities that will not alone stop the decline but begin to grow again.


To that end, the Institute for Pastoral Studies at MIC, St. Patrick’s Campus, Thurles will on March 29th next host an evening conference, from 7p.m. to 9:30p.m., titled ‘Building Rural Community – Lessons from Sport’. The theme for the conference was selected on the basis that sport is not alone the glue for many communities today but also it is in its own right a business opportunity for each and every county.

To that end a cast of rural champions, all with a background in sport, have been confirmed for our conference.  Speakers are:

  • Pat Spillane, Kerry football legend and Chairman of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) whose talk is titled ‘Realising our Rural Potential’
  • Padraig Giblin, founder of two sports related business, Sports World Netting Ltd and Derg Isle Team Building Centre in Scarriff, Co. Clare. His talk is titled ‘Mining the Net’
  • Anna May McHugh, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Championships, who will deliver a talk on ‘A pleasant and friendly place to meet and do business’ (from the original mission statement for the ploughing championships when it was formed in 1931)
  • Michael Ryan, Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning hurling manager who will deliver a talk titled ‘Maximising a natural asset’, based on the success of his native Upperchurch in developing a successful tourism product based around hill-walking
  • John Hayes – who will talk about ‘A club’s role in rural Ireland’, based on the success of his old club, Bruff RFC, a small Co. Limerick town

The event, which is being organised by the Head of the Institute for Pastoral Studies at MIC Fr. Eamonn Fitzgibbon, already has limited tickets remaining.

Tickets cost just €10 and can be booked at www.buildingruralcommunities.com or by contacting MIC, St. Patrick’s Campus, Thurles at 0504 21201.  The event commences at 7p.m. and concludes at 9:30p.m.