Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has said that he was delighted to welcome Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys to Athy on Monday where she visited many sites with potential to improve the economic and tourist attraction of the town.

“The Minister was impressed with the work ongoing at the Dominicans site where the old church is being converted into a new state of the art library.  Council officials informed the Minister that they hope to have the library completed by the end of the year.

“The site of the Dominicans also allowed the Minister to view the huge potential that Athy has as a hub for the Barrow Blueway project which is the responsibility of her department.  We were keen to show the Minister the huge positivity there is in the Athy area for the Barrow Blueway plans.  With the space now available at the Dominican site for an amenity area we are well placed to develop facilities to maximise the return for the town from the visitors to the Blueway.

“As chairman of the Friends of Athy Heritage Centre I was pleased to highlight to the Minister the plans for expansion of the Shackelton Experience following the grant of full museum status there late last year.

“The proposed development of Emily Square in Athy has benefited from €95,000 in funding from the Minister’s Rural Town and Village Renewal Scheme.  She also confirmed to me that applications will open shortly for the 2017 scheme which will allow more local towns to apply for funding towards projects that will help to revitalise their local towns.

“I would encourage towns in South Kildare like Castledermot, Kilcullen and Rathangan to consider the potential for a scheme like this to enhance facilities in the area.

“The Minister had earlier in the day also visited Ballitore where the development of the Tanyard into a community centre has benefited from funding of €125,000 from the Ministers Department.