Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland poses with illustration of the project for Smithfield, Source: Dublin City Council on Facebook

Ireland launches Urban Animation Scheme to boost sustainable tourism

Ireland launches Urban Animation Scheme to boost sustainable tourism

The EUR 5 million, local authorities-targeted scheme aims to transform urban centres through public art, light installations and performance spaces

Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, has launched an Urban Animation Capital Investment Scheme open to local authorities only. It is aimed at supporting sustainable development in one of the worst affected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic through public realm and urban animation projects that are capable of transforming and re-imagining urban centres for residents and guests.

The Scheme will be delivered under Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Opening the Outdoors’ Pillar of its 2021 Business Plan which aims to make the most of Ireland’s outdoor assets and reinvigorate urban spaces by working through the local councils.

7 cities allocated funding

The EUR 5 million pilot scheme opened for applications in April, and following a competitive process, urban animation projects in 7 cities - Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth and Waterford - were allocated funding. They include a variety of large-scale outdoor performance spaces, public art and light installations that will tell the stories and showcase the culture, history and heritage of these locations. 

Announcing the projects earlier this week on Dublin’s Smithfield Square, Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport, Gaeltacht and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. said, as quoted by  “The projects[...] will help re-invigorate these urban areas and increase their tourism appeal. This is important in attracting visitors to our towns and cities and increasing dwell time to support local tourism and hospitality businesses and jobs.

It is also important to note that these projects will be sustainable and in line with environmental best practice. This funding announcement further strengthens this Government’s commitment to developing the regions as outlined in the ‘Our Rural Future’ plan.”   

Speaking at the announcement, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Alison Gilliland said: “Smithfield is a key public space on the North side of the city. This funding will allow us to create a more playful, family-friendly atmosphere in this space. The plans include colourful animals, shapes and a fully functioning carousel which will be visually beautiful and exciting to interact with.” 

Beneficial locations

Cork City Council (EUR 673,310) 

Five public art works spread out across the city centre (at GPO, Exchange buildings, Carey’s Lane, Cook St. & Coal Quay and Cornmarket St.) will create a trail highlighting Cork’s collective culture and heritage.

Dublin City Council (EUR 847,487) 

A flexible cultural hub at Smithfield Square will include a carousel, an open-air gallery with media screens to promote cultural events, an outdoor performance area and a multi-functional indoor space for creative activities. 

Galway City Council (EUR 1,030,834) 

A lighting installation at Woodquay Park featuring a hand-carved steel sphere will reflect the stories and traditions of Galway alongside a replica of a Galway Hooker (traditional fishing boat) and performance space.

Kilkenny County Council (EUR 439,875) 

Installations at five locations across the city will highlight Kilkenny’s medieval heritage, culture and creativity. These include a Cartoon Saloon Mural at Watergate Performance Space, an upcycled Copper Tank at Brewhouse Square at the Abbey Quarter, a sculpture adjacent to Riverside Park, digital Culture Screens and lighting of the Butterslip and Market Slip to attract visitors to the new Market Square outdoor dining experience. 

Limerick City and County Council (EUR 532,669) 

Newton’s Prism, a monumental rotating equilateral prism will be built at the junction of Lower Thomas St. and O’Connell St. 

Louth County Council (EUR 672,208) 

Lighting installations and street art will bring five historic buildings and structures in the port town of Drogheda to life, narrating the myths and legends associated with the River Boyne. The designated sites are Barlow House, St. Peter's Church, Millmount, St. Laurence's Gate, Scotch Hall and The Boyne Viaduct. 

Waterford City and County Council (EUR 539,275) 

Under the City of Lights Project, 21 illumination installations will connect the four zones of Waterford City: Viking Triangle, Cultural Quarter, Retail Spine and Apple Market. 

Fáilte Ireland expects that the projects will come to life by the summer of 2022.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU