LEADER (Rural Development Programme)

LEADER is a rural development funding programme available to people and communities who want to develop enterprise, community and environmental projects.

The LEADER programme is closed for funding applications in County Mayo. The new programme is going through a selection process with the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and we will post updates, on our website, and on social media when they are available. 

Together with Mayo Local Action Group (LAG), we are currently closing out the current programme in south and west Mayo. This includes working with LEADER-funded communities and businesses to complete their paperwork and claim their final grants. 

A summary of LEADER in south west Mayo highlights the following LEADER programme achievements: 

  • 177 projects approved for funding 
  • €8million in grants approved for projects in south and west Mayo (with some countywide projects) including: 
  • €1.2million for food and drink projects (LEADER Food Initiative) 
  • €614,000 for cooperation projects (National LEADER Cooperation Fund) 

If you are interested in applying for funding under the new LEADER programme, we are accepting Expressions of Interest. Send your project and contact details to info@southmayo.com, and we will add you to our mailing list and let you know about the new LEADER programme as soon as it is available.

Please see the Expression of Interest form below.

Type of InvestmentPrivate ApplicantCommunity Applicant
Capital Investment Grants – Buildings, renovations, equipment etc.75% to a maximum grant of €150,000*75% to a maximum grant of €300,000*
Analysis & Development Grants (Feasibility studies, prototypes etc.)75% to a maximum grant of €30,000*90% to a maximum grant of €30,000*
Training Grants – Tailored training that does not form part of the national curriculum.100% to a maximum grant of €150,000*100% to a maximum grant of €200,000*

Please note that these are the maximum grants available, and they may not be awarded in all cases. 

LEADER support is available to a variety of applicants including: 

  • New Businesses 
  • Existing Businesses 
  • Business Partnerships 
  • Companies Limited by Shares 
  • Formalised Community/Voluntary Groups 
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee 
  • Trusts 
  • Social Enterprises 

If your business, group or organisation does not appear on this list, please talk to a Project Officer to see if you are eligible to apply.

To give you an idea of the type of applicants and projects that have been supported in the past, please find a link to LEADER grants approved under the LEADER 2014-2020 programme as at 31 December 2020 

Lough Carra Catchment Assoc

As part of a significant enhancement plan for Lough Carra, the Lough Carra Catchment Association (LCCA) was awarded over €27,000 in LEADER funding for a feasibility study into a lake protection plan.

The association, which was established in 2018, was formed with the goal of
conserving and restoring the ecological integrity of Lough Carra and its lakeshore
habitats designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Lough Carra is known as a marl lake, a shallow limestone lake. Over time,
the quality of the water has declined, and the ecological status of the lake has
gradually degraded.

“The water used to be so clear here that you could see an eel swimming on the bottom” says Chris Huxley of the LCCA.

“The marl used to be white, which it should be, but now you’ll find it’s green. In some places, it’s brown or even black.”

The feasibility study made possible through LEADER funding, looked at ways to arrest the decline in water quality. The project resulted in a 152-page document that sets out a compelling case for the investment needed to improve the environment of the lake and surrounding areas.

Sabina Trench, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company, which delivers LEADER programmes, said:

“Like many LEADER projects, this grant was a stepping stone for the Lough Carra Catchment Association (LCCA). With Mayo as the lead agency, County Council has secured € 5 million in Life project funding over a five-year period to ‘restore, protect and conserve the ecological integrity of Lough Carra’. That is a 185% return on the initial LEADER investment, which is incredible value for money.”

For more information on this project, please see: https://loughcarra.org/

Nigel OReilly Goldsmith NORG

Bespoke jewellery designer Nigel O’Reilly was operating from a home-based studio when he approached South West Mayo Development Company about LEADER funding in 2017. Already an established jewellery maker for some of the world’s most luxurious jewellery houses, Nigel had an ambition to offer his own high-end jewellery range and bespoke pieces to clients from his Mayo base.
Part of the plan required Nigel to move from his home base to a new studio in Castlebar, where clients would have the opportunity to experience a one-to-one jewellery consultation in surroundings consistent with his exclusive brand.

Thanks to LEADER programme funding, Nigel created a studio space combining a workshop and consultation room to showcase his creative process. Together, the client’s specific requirements are discussed, and next door, each piece is individually crafted by Nigel and his team. Amongst its specialist equipment, Nigel’s New Workshop features a modern 3-D printer funded by LEADER in 2021.

“We work with some of the most microscopic of gemstones in our creations and our equipment is hugely important to us,” he said. “With support like LEADER, we can compete nationally on a world stage as the best-equipped fine jewellery studio.”

Sabina Trench, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company, reflected on their collaboration with Nigel O’Reilly:

“This is a major business success story for County Mayo. The fact that a jewellery designer and maker of this stature can operate from our county town shows others what is possible. We were delighted to support Nigel and his team with LEADER funding. This investment has sustained and created rural jobs in a niche industry, which is exactly what the programme was designed to achieve.”

For more information about Nigel and his stunning creations, please see:

CPCNS  Broadband

The Croagh Patrick Community Network Society (CPCNS) is a community-based broadband scheme established in 2004. It provides broadband services to its network of over 270 residential and business customers in the Clew Bay area. It is the only community-owned broadband service in County Mayo.

CPCNS secured almost €8,000 of LEADER funding to purchase and install specialist broadband equipment. This equipment allowed CPCNS to increase bandwidth and improve the broadband service offered to its customers. The investment, which was matched with €2,500 of the group’s own resources, also allowed CPCNS to expand their network to more households, many of
who are unable to access reliable services through commercial providers.
By commissioning a dedicated fibre optic broadband connection and upgrading the existing technical equipment, CPCNS can offer consistent high-speed broadband to a wide range of users in isolated rural areas.

The LEADER funding also helps secure the long-term sustainability of CPCNS by attracting new customers due to this improved infrastructure.
As we move into a hybrid working environment and with the move of so many services online, CPCNS provides a vital rural service which is as essential as running water and electricity into our homes and businesses. This is one LEADER grant which is punching way above its weight.

SWMDC implements LEADER in south and west Mayo, including Gaeltacht areas.

Leader Area

For more information, please contact:

Seán CarolanRural Development (LEADER) Managerscarolan@southmayo.com086 136 6075
Norita CleshamLEADER Community Officernclesham@southmayo.com087 611 4072

Express your interest in LEADER 2023-2027

We will acknowledge your EOI by email and add your details to our database. Once the new LEADER programme is up and running, we will contact you with all the details you need to progress your enquiry.

 Registered in Dublin 182222. Recognised by the Revenue Commissioners as a Charity No. CHY 10482 Copyright © 2021 South West Mayo Development. All Rights Reserved.