ireland west airport

New state of the art Visitor Discovery Centre opens at Ireland West Airport

On Friday 30th November Ireland West Airport celebrated the official opening of the new state of the art Visitor Centre and the launch of Ryanair’s new service to Cologne.

Under the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) initiative programme with Minister Michael Ring and the Department of Rural & Community Development the construction of a new innovative and state of the art Visitor Discovery Centre was completed at Ireland West Airport in early November. The project was a collaboration with seven local authority partners in Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo and the Western Development Commission.

The new Centre will feature information on attractions, activities, events and visitor experiences from across the region and present opportunities for local suppliers to showcase local crafts, food tastings and also facilitate musical performances from local musicians throughout the year.

Arthur French, Chairman Ireland West Airport , speaking at today’s event said ‘This morning we marked the official opening of the new state of the art Visitor Discovery Centre at the airport, which is a result of a unique partnership between central Government, our Local Authority partners and the Western Development Commission. We wish to thank Minister Michael Ring TD and his department for their support for this project. Today is a very positive example of what can be achieved when resources are combined with a regional approach to tourism promotion. This new Centre will be the first of its kind at any airport in the country and will showcase the very best of what the West and North West has to offer and demonstrates the airport and Local Authority partners commitment to providing overseas visitors with a first class offering as they arrive into the West of Ireland’.

Speaking at the official opening Minister Michael Ring, TD, said ‘This is a great day for the West of Ireland with the opening of a magnificent new state of the art Tourist Visitor Centre at the airport. I’m delighted that my department was able to assist in bringing this project to completion and it will be a fantastic resource for the region to promote and showcase all the West of Ireland has to offer’.

On Friday Ryanair also officially launch their new twice weekly service to Cologne which starts on the 1st of June 2019 which will see Ryanair offer services to 13 destinations across the UK and Europe carrying over 600,000 passengers through the airport in 2019. Last week Ryanair welcomed its 8 millionth passenger on flights to/from the airport since their inaugural flight in 1986.

Speaking at the launch, David O’ Brien, Chief Commercial Officer, Ryanair said ‘I’m delighted to be here in the West of Ireland to officially launch Ryanair’s new service to Cologne. Over the last 32 years Ryanair has seen a huge demand for its routes at Ireland West Airport as customers in the West of Ireland snap up Ryanair’s lowest fares to top destinations including Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool and London Stansted as well as to a host of European destinations in Spain, Portugal, Italy and now Germany. We are looking forward to working with the team at Ireland West Airport in 2019 to ensure the Cologne service is a major success for the West of Ireland.’

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atlantic economic corridor

Atlantic Economic Corridor: €500k funding announced for the Western Development Commission (WDC)

Michael Ring, TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, today (10 December 2018), announced additional funding of €500,000 for the Western Development Commission (WDC) to support the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative and to maximise the use of the Western Investment Fund which provides financing for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, Minister Canney said: “The AEC project is a collaborative initiative, with public and private stakeholders working together to develop the strengths and assets of the cities and towns along our western seaboard, from Donegal to Kerry.”

“The aim of the project is to connect the economic clusters and catchment areas of the region to attract investment, support job creation and improve the quality of life of the people who live there.  The project is overseen by the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce, which I chair, involving key stakeholders from the public and private sectors who share a common vision for the growth of the region.“

Minister Canney continued: “As the AEC initiative develops and grows, the importance of strengthening the collaboration between stakeholders and in communicating our message is paramount.   I have therefore asked the Western Development Commission to take on a co-ordinating role to support the work of the AEC Taskforce and its Subgroups. The support and knowledge that the WDC can bring to the AEC project at regional level will be invaluable to my Department and to the development of the Atlantic Economic Corridor project as a whole.”

To support the WDC in this work, Minister Ring said: “With Minister Canney, I have secured €500,000 in additional funding for the WDC for 2019, which will help them to strengthen their resources, both to support the AEC project and to maximise the impact of the Western Investment Fund which provides investment for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.  I want to thank the Board and Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission for agreeing to carry out this new AEC coordination role and my Department looks forward to working closely with the Commission to help deliver on the AEC’s objectives.”

The announcement comes just weeks after projects based in the AEC region secured €50 million in investment from three Government funds to support rural and urban regeneration and enterprise development.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive Officer of the WDC, said: “There is significant alignment between the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor and the goal of the Western Development Commission in building a sustainable future for vibrant communities. The work of the AEC Taskforce will benefit the full length of the western seaboard. The WDC, in co-ordinating business, state and community effort, can bring the benefit of 20 years of investment, development and policy experience to bear in helping the AEC to become a globally competitive region of scale.”

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tomas o siochain

New CEO Appointed to the Western Development Commission as the WDC welcomes renewed focus on Regional Development

The Western Development Commission has announced that Tomás Ó Síocháin has been appointed by the Board of the WDC as Chief Executive Officer. Tomás joins the organisation from NUI Galway, where he was External Engagement Programme Manager, having previously spent more than 14 years as an editor and journalist with RTÉ and TG4.

The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through and other

  • Investment in the region – Since 2010 the WDC has sourced and directed over €13M in total funding towards regional enterprise and employment development
  • Regional Policy and analysis – in critical areas such as census analysis, broadband rollout and the creative economy
  • Western Investment Fund – 2700 direct jobs and 5000 in total (indirect and direct) supported by the WDC in the region in recent years
  • EU project work to total value of €12m (FY2017) in areas such as renewable bioenergy, the creative economy, cultural tourism and micro and SME enterprises
  • The appointment is timely, given the renewed focus on Regional Development as part of the National Planning Framework and the announcement of €4 billion in funding under the Ireland 2040 project. These developments build on the establishment of the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the appointment of a new Board to the WDC.

Dr Deirdre Garvey, Chair of the Board of the WDC, welcomed the appointment saying; “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to announce the appointment of the CEO and welcome Tomás to the WDC. It is a time of significant opportunity for the WDC in context of the National Planning Framework. I look forward to working with Tomás and the staff as we build on the success of the WDC and develop these opportunities for the Western region.”

A native of Co. Clare and living in Co. Galway, Tomás Ó Síocháin sees first-hand the opportunities for the policy, development and financial support offered by the Western Development Commission: ‘In terms of work-life balance, opportunity and physical beauty, the west of Ireland has few if any parallels on a global stage. I am privileged to lead an organisation that has done so much in facilitating and supporting growth in this region. A significant opportunity now exists to build on the work of the WDC and others in a collaborative and cohesive way; supporting economic, social and cultural growth, not only for those who currently live and work here but to help to inform the decision making of those that will ‘look west’ and choose a better quality of life in the future.’

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at or what living and working in the west offers here on

west of ireland start up guide Start-Up Guide To Promote Entrepreneurship in the West of Ireland

How much do you know about West of Ireland startups? Which startups have the most buzz?

For anyone intrigued by the start-up world – or already a part of it – the West of Ireland Start Up Guide includes an overview of the leading lights in the West of Ireland start-up scene.

If you’re thinking of starting-up on your own or are already in business, check out this great overview of the companies already making waves in the West. We showcase companies across the industry clusters including the ICT, medtech, creative and food sectors.


We also show the accelerators, VCs and investment funds as well as the meet-ups, and co-working spaces that have sprouted up across the West.

The guide aims to celebrate and promote West of Ireland entrepreneurship, while offering a 101 guide for anyone visiting the Western Region or starting out in their career.

It covers the most successful West of Ireland startups and companies on the rise, industry clusters, accelerators and meetups, resident VCs, and the story of how our homegrown industry began. 

Ian Brannigan, Acting CEO of the WDC said ‘The Western Region of Ireland is fast developing a reputation for being the location of choice for aspiring businesses and individuals intent on thriving both professionally and personally. As it has done for almost 25 years the Western Development Commission (WDC), seeks to work with partners to facilitate this evolution . Thus I am delighted to welcome the creation of the  “West of Ireland Start up guide”. This updated version of the guide carries on the success of its predecessor in supporting Western businesses to flourish through practical and concise information and advice on establishing a business in our community. The West of Ireland is fast becoming a true networked economy and one which evermore invites the business community to grow within”

If you have a suggestion to add to the list, tweet @lookwestie or drop us an email!

View the West of Ireland Start Up Guide

Download the West of Ireland Start Up Guide


#WestCommutes Photo Competition

Swim, hike or kite surf to work? Do you avoid traffic jams and packed trains by commuting on horseback or climbing into a canoe? Regularly get stuck in livestock traffic jams?

If your commute is out of the ordinary, we’d like to see what it looks like and hear about your experiences. Show us with your pictures or videos why living and working in the West offers an incredible quality of life.

We have a brilliant prize to give away for the best entry.

How To Enter:

  1. Snap a photo or video of your West of Ireland journey
  2. Upload a photo (or video) to social media using the #WestCommutes + #County hashtags e.g. #WestCommutes #Galway
  3. Tag our @LookWestie accounts in your post. (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook)
  4. You can also enter your photo via the form at the end of this page.

Prize Details

We have the most awesome bag of goodies for the best entry as chosen by the LW team and a professional photographer. All of the prizes are by businesses in the West of Ireland and are perfect for the adventurous, outdoor-loving commuter.

The Winner Will Get:


  • A Seagreen Rolltop Backpack by the Atlantic Equipment Project. The Atlantic Equipment Project is a collection of backpacks, satchels and iPad cases, made in Sligo, designed with the active outdoor lifestyle in mind. Each bag is constructed using the highest quality materials, creating functional bags that will last a lifetime.
  • A Laptop Sleeve by Loved & Upcycled. This innovative West of Ireland company upcycles kites, sails, wetsuits, bike-tubes and other outdoor sports gear into bags & wallets. Their goal is to protect precious materials from entering landfill one product at a time.
  • West-Strand 100% Wool Beanie: West-Strand 100% Wool Beanies are designed to keep warm and cozy on those cold days of the year. Maker Nina lives in the North-West and inspired by the cold, she creates a range of 100% Wool Products to keep warm all year around.
  • A gift package by Carrow Coffee with three bags of coffee – a Rwandan, Colombian and Brazilian. Carrow is a specialty coffee roastery that was set up in Sligo by Paola and Andrew when they returned from Colombia last year. It favours light to medium roasts that allows the bean’s intrinsic flavour to shine through.
  • A luxury Seaweed Bath and Seaweed Shower from Sligo’s Seashore Veg. Seashoreveg is product hand picked seaweed from the Atlantic shores of The North West coast of Ireland. Seashore Veg on Facebook

We will also have some gift vouchers for lunch at the Strandhill People’s Market to give awayThis special Sunday market takes place in the unique venue of Hangar 1 at Sligo Airport in Strandhill, just a few short minutes stroll from the beachfront every Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

We’ll be sharing some of our favourite entries on our social channels, so stay tuned to our feed.


The competition will be open for submissions from 27 Feb– 21 Mar 2018.

westcommutesTerms & Conditions:

  1. Entry is open to all recipients except employees of the WDC, prize promoters and their families.
  2. The Promoter is and the Western Development Commission
  3. To enter the photo competition, participants must post a photo on social media using the #CommuteWest and #county hashtags (i.e. the county they’re in) and tag @lookwestie on Twitter / Instagram or post it on our Facebook page. Ideally, include a brief description of your photo. Entries must be posted or reposted from a public account during the entry period. You cannot simply “tag” an older photo/video. Those posted from private accounts and/or posted outside of the entry period will not be considered eligible.
  4. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be a unique photo
  5. All entries must be located in any of the seven counties in the Western Region; Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare.
  6. The entry process is open from 28 Feb until 21 March.
  7. All prizes are non-transferable.
  8. Photos entered into the competition may be displayed on the website of
  9. Notification and Requirements of Potential Winner: We will reach out directly to the potential winner via direct message within one day of choosing a winning entrant. The WDC will then follow up with potential winner via email with instructions on how to claim the prize. Upon response from the winner, the WDC will announce the potential winner via posts on our social media accounts. If a potential winner does not respond and comply with the instructions in the initial direct message within three (3) days, he/she will forfeit the prize and the WDC may award the prize to an alternate entrant. Only three (3) alternate entrants will be contacted. Except where prohibited, a potential winner may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release. 10. Entrants are deemed to accept these terms and conditions by entering this competition. Participants’ personal data will be used in accordance with the Promotor’s Privacy Policy.
  10. For further details on the’s privacy policy here

One Region One Vision Conference Video Highlights

For 2018 the Western Region will be recognised as European Entrepreneurial Region.

Recognising the success of our indigenous and small enterprises. Our commitment to innovation will see us become one of the most resilient places in Europe.

The One Region One Vision Conference took place in Galway on November 28th.

The Western Development Commission was delighted to collaborate on this conference with the North Western Regional Assembly.

One Region One Vision celebrated achievement, whilst also promoting investment in our competitiveness through Structural Funds and launching our Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.

So get your 2018 moving by watching the One Region One Vision inspirational speakers including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Harry Hughes of PortWest, Mary Rodgers (Portershed), Adrian Weckler (INM) and many more.

wdc insights

Census 2016: The Western Region’s Labour Market – in pictures!

As the final Census 2016 Profile ‘Employment, Occupations and Industry’ was published by the CSO last week, we now have a pretty good picture of the Western Region’s labour market in 2016.  The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published an infographic on some interesting facts about the Western Region’s labour market.

This is the second in a series of infographics to be published using data from the Census and focusing on the Western Region – the seven counties under the remit of the WDC.  The aim is to make key regional statistics available in an easily accessible manner.

In this infographic we show that:

  • The Western Region had 17.4% of the State population in 2016, 16.6% of all employment and 19.5% of all self-employment
  • There are over 100,000 retired people living in the Western Region
  • Industry is the biggest employment sector in the Western Region and also enjoyed the biggest gain in employment between 2011 and 2016

You can download ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market’ infographic here

west of ireland work force

See more from the WDC Insights Blog here.

WDC Analysis of Census data: Where people in the Western Region Live and Work

More people living in the Western Region now leave the Region for work – analysis of Census data by the WDC shows

  • 7 out of every 10 workers (71.5%) living in the Western Region, work within the Region a decline since 2011 when 73.2% of workers in the Western Region found work in the Region.
  • Over 4,200 Western Region residents travel to work in Dublin, up by 16.9% since 2011.
  • In 2016 there was a net loss of 17,565 workers who leave the Region to work elsewhere.
  • Compared to 2011, this is an increase in the number of workers leaving the Region to work, when there was a net loss of -14,939 residents working outside of the Region.

Of the workplace destinations outside the Western Region, the five counties of Limerick (7,948), Westmeath (4,500), Dublin (4,258), Derry (2,986) and Longford (1,730) are the most significant workplaces.

Over 4,500 workers living in the Western Region work abroad (4,661).

View some specific county findings: HERE

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, 086 605 3317



A remarkable year for

2017 has been an important, and very busy, year for Under a creative momentum project, the website was fully revamped and re-launched in March. is a hub for anyone looking for inspiration and insights into the creativity of 5 different regions on Europe’s Northern Edge – in Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Sweden. currently showcases the work of 232 creatives working in the fields of Arts, Crafts, Design and Media & Technology, around half are based in the West of Ireland.  We’re hoping to grow that number throughout 2018, so sign-up to our monthly newsletter to keep up to date!

my creative edgeDigital marketing campaign

A key objective of is to make creative entrepreneurs from Europe’s Northern Edge more visible to potential international clients and customers. To this end, the first phase of an international digital marketing campaign was launched at the end of June. The campaign mainly targeted consumers based in the regions and the cities of London, Dublin, Stockholm, Reykjavik, and Helsinki. Facebook ads were the main channel used.

During July-August, there were 8,445 unique sessions on the website from 6,770 unique users. This was a 69% increase in the number of sessions since the same period in 2016, and a 107% increase from the previous two month period.

A second phase was launched in September and targeted Dublin, Stockholm, Belfast, Reykjavik and Helsinki, as well as cities in the UK, US and Canada. In addition to Facebook ads, Google display ads were also used.  The site registered a 100% increase in the number of sessions since the same period a year previously.

And in the run up to Christmas, a creative momentum project has been promoting as a hub for unique, inspiring gift ideas. Four businesses from the West of Ireland were among those featured in the Christmas campaign: Celtic Fairy Doors, Lynsey De Burca, McKernan Woollen  Mills, and Hawthorn and Rose.

These businesses were among the 21 enterprises from the region who received support earlier in the year from a creative momentum project to collaborate with professional photographers from the West of Ireland. In just over a month, the Christmas campaign resulted in 4,168 sessions on the site mostly from the UK, Ireland, Finland, the US and Canada.

Register now

The digital marketing activities linked to will continue into 2018. By registering and publishing their profile, creative enterprises based in the West of Ireland can benefit from this advertising, as well as having the opportunity to connect with other creative businesses in the same, or different fields.

And remember, if you want to keep up to date with what’s new on sign-up for our newsletter.

Local Authorities meet to support regional film fund initiative at WDC Offices

Following the recent launch by Minister Sean Kyne of the WRAP fund, today in the WDC offices, Ballaghaderreen, representatives from Donegal, Roscommon, Clare, Galway county and the Galway Film Centre, met to discuss how best to collectively progress the implementation of the fund within the west of Ireland region.

The Western Regional Audio-visual Producer’s Fund (The WRAP Fund) is a financial mechanism to promote job creation in the region and to assist creative producers in the sector to overcome the challenges of operating in a highly competitive industry.

The WRAP Fund will support enterprise growth in the following four sub sectors in the creative industry:

  • Film Production
  • Television Content Production
  • Animation Production
  • Content Production for Gaming

The Chair of the Galway Film Centre (GFC), Celine Curtin stated that the WRAP fund was a “Unique fund “on the Island of Ireland that addresses not only the needs of the Film and TV sectors, but also those of “animation and the gaming sectors”. As such this may represent a competitive offering to support growth of existing and new entrants to these critical sectors.

Representing Donegal county council , Aideen Doherty, reiterated the need for the WRAP fund for the regional creatives, “absolutely we should do this “, stating also the need to use the opportunity afforded by the initiative to ensure a greater engagement of young people in the sector.

Whilst the WRAP fund is targeted primarily at supporting the sector in a financial manner, through the resources of the West’s very own Western Development Commission’s funds and those of the local authorities etc. it is hoped that the group will grow to also help grow the sector through indirect means.

The sector and local authorities have highlighted a number of issues that combine to also challenge the region’s growth in the film and related sectors“ stated Ian Brannigan, The acting CEO of the WDC, “However the great news is that solutions have also been identified, which the WDC is keen to assess further to see if significant growth can be unlocked”.

Applications for the prestigious position of Development Manager for the WRAP Fund are currently being accepted.

More details on the WRAP Fund Development Manager opportunity here