Our Rural Future: Minister Humphreys officially opens new Academy for Jewellery and Goldsmithing Centre of Excellence in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
· Investment of €1.75 million from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to deliver the Thomastown Regeneration project
· The project has refurbished the iconic Sessions House building to deliver a Jewellery Centre of Excellence
· Works also include improvements to the public realm and accessible carpark
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today (Wednesday 17th May) visited Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, to officially open the Academy of Jewellery and Goldsmithing Centre of Excellence. The Sessions House building, a former Courthouse in the centre of Thomastown has been transformed into a new home for the jewellery academy.
This project, funded under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, together with a contribution from the LEADER Programme through Kilkenny LEADER Partnership and match funding from Kilkenny County Council has been delivered at an overall cost of €1.5 million demonstrating a significant investment in the creative sector and in Thomastown.
The investment from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund has also supported public realm improvements and the provision of an accessible carpark in the town consistent with the Our Rural Future objectives of attracting more visitors, shoppers and investors into rural towns.
Kilkenny County Council was awarded funding of over €1.75 million under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in 2019 for the Thomastown Regeneration project which included the refurbishing of the Sessions House building.
Kilkenny County Council has partnered with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership to deliver this project which will renovate and repurpose a heritage structure for use by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland to facilitate the relocation and expansion of the existing Centre of Excellence in Jewellery and Goldsmithing currently located in Castle Yard, Kilkenny City.
The Centre of Excellence will provide educational opportunities for the jewellery sector providing facilities for full-time students and industry specific short courses. The centre will also provide space for Designers in residency, incubator spaces and a gallery space accessible to the public.
Speaking at today’s opening, Minister Humphreys said:
“What a fantastic occasion this is – I’m really delighted to be with you all here today for the official opening of The Academy of Jewellery and Goldsmithing Centre of Excellence at Sessions House.
“Today really is a celebration of the strong and vibrant creative and design culture that exists here in Kilkenny.
“And I know that this new Academy really will strengthen both Thomastown and indeed the entire South East Region as a centre for creative and vibrant cultural activity.
“I’m really delighted that, under my Department’s Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and LEADER Programme, to be able to support this project with an investment of €1.2 million.
“And thanks to the support of Kilkenny County Council and the Design and Craft Council of Ireland, we are today officially opening a €1.75 million euro project overall.”
While in Thomastown, the Minister also paid a visit to the Thomastown Community Centre. The Community Centre will be redeveloped into a new modern library. The project was allocated funding of over €2.5 million from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in 2021.