05. Economic Development & Employment

Closeddate_range20 Nov, 2020, 9:00am - 25 Jan, 2021, 5:00pm

5.0 Economic Development & Employment

SO2: To promote and support economic development of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch that capitalises on its location on the River Barrow, with the heritage and tourism assets being identified as key economic strengths for the settlement   


The County Development Plans of Kilkenny and Carlow recognise that the identity and economic development of both Counties Kilkenny and Carlow including the settlement of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch are intrinsically linked to its heritage and acknowledge that their character and culture are vital assets that help each county compete as a tourism destination and a choice for location for investment.

This Draft Joint LAP supports enterprise and employment development in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch. Several sites are zoned for Mixed Uses within the settlement, providing for a range of uses that could facilitate various employment options. In the recent past permission was granted for an Aldi supermarket in Graiguenamanagh to the north of the town centre. In Tinnahinch there is 4.40ha of Enterprise and Employment zoned lands.

The tourism sector has a strong tradition in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch. Supports from this Draft Joint LAP, Kilkenny and Carlow Local Economic Community Plan, Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study and other policy and funding opportunities will ensure the tourism sector will be able to exploit the location on the River Barrow and the Natural and Built Heritage of the towns to reach its potential in the development of skills and enterprise to bring real benefit to the local economy.  


Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch is located 16km from Thomastown, 33km from Kilkenny City, 40km from Carlow, 19km from New Ross and 41km from Waterford City. With the emergence over the last ten years of relatively high-quality transport infrastructure the settlement has ability to attract increased numbers of visitors. Graiguenamanagh’s main role is as a district service centre for the town and its wider hinterland. Existing businesses in the town include a Bank, Credit Union, Pharmacies, Visitor Centres, Craft Shops, Restaurants, Coffee Shops and Supermarkets. Whilst all of these components create the foundations for a successful town centre, further and diversified local employment will be necessary to support a vibrant, sustainable and attractive settlement.

The Draft Joint LAP focuses on supporting the creation and continued maintenance of local employment as well as facilitating sustainable transport initiatives in order to improve ease of access to and from Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch, supporting commercial/tourist activities and ease of access to neighbouring employment centres. In order to facilitate employment initiatives, an area of land has been zoned for Enterprise and Employment in Tinnahinch and there is also significant development capacity on the lands zoned Mixed Use for expansion of existing enterprises and development of new businesses.

The tourism sector is seen as the main economic strength of the settlement[1], and the future development of tourism-related activities is the key objective for generating employment. The following main assets of the settlement are nationally and internationally renowned yet, to date, are relatively untapped:

  • Duiske Abbey;
  • George Semple Bridge;
  • Tinnahinch Castle;
  • St. Michael’s Well
  • Traditional shops, pubs, cafes and streetscapes;
  • Barrow Navigation; (Blueways)
  • Barrow recreational amenities;
  • Barrow and South Leinster Waymarked Ways;
  • River Barrow and River Nore SAC;
  • Brandon Hill
  • The woodlands to the north and south of the town;
  • The nearby attractions of Borris and St. Mullins;

The existing derelict and under-utilised sites provide opportunities for development for visitor-based facilities, quality services for walkers and those engaged in water-based activities with a wider provision of places to eat and overnight accommodation options. The principal objective is to improve the tourist offering, increase visitor numbers and accessibility to attractions, both domestic and international, and spend in the area, thereby enhancing the vitality of the town and the viability of the local shops, bars, cafes and restaurants and local tourism/guest accommodation.

ED1: Enterprise and Economic Development Policy

It is the policy of both Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to support sustainable economic development in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch, optimising on the settlement’s location in proximity to both Kilkenny and Waterford Cities, Carlow town and its significant potential as a heritage and tourism destination for outdoor recreation/adventure tourism.


It is an objective of the Plan

EDO1.1: To ensure that there is a sufficient supply of appropriately zoned lands at suitable locations in the settlement to accommodate and promote a wide range of enterprise and employment development types.

EDO1.2: To support the provision of Incubation Space and Hot-Desking facilities within the settlement with work station/areas for start-up businesses and remote workers, particularly those in the creative/digital sphere and start-up companies that can contribute to the tourism or arts economy.


The town centre of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch extends between both Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch, linked via the George Semple Bridge. The town centre of Graiguenamanagh is distinguished by its attractive medieval townscape, the quantity, quality and diversity of its historic buildings, many of which are listed on the Record of Protected Structures, and by its riverside setting. Graiguenamanagh has evolved since the early 12th century and remains the focus for a broad range of commercial and community activities. In recent years new retail developments of Aldi and Super Value have altered the dynamic of the town centre. 

Tinnahinch is a relatively new settlement with the exception of the area associated with the use of the River Barrow and main approach roads. Recent town renewal activity has given a welcome vibrant core to the town centre. Tinnahinch includes an urban form, with some commercial properties capable of redevelopment/reuse. 


The town centre fulfils an important role as a public place, with a diversity of uses, and with opportunities to further diversify in order to serve the needs of a growing population and to realise the heritage potential of the settlement. Several buildings within the main core area of Graiguenamanagh are in variable condition and there is considerable scope for restoration and sensitive redevelopment and infill. In the public consultation process dereliction was highlighted as the major issue concerning the quality and appearance of the town. The town centre is dependent on boosting confidence and attracting investment, not only in new schemes but more importantly in the redevelopment and refurbishment of existing properties. The high number of derelict buildings and under-utilised sites, particularly along the quayside, around the Turf Market, to the north side of High Street backing onto the Mill Race and at the northern end of Main Street, need to be sensitively restored or redeveloped for appropriate retail, residential, community and visitor-related uses.

This Draft Joint LAP seeks to support the primacy of the town centre as the focus for future retail, commercial activity and community life and to attract activity back to the core area. In order to reinforce the town centre as a viable and vibrant centre, a mix of retail and commercial, civic, social and cultural uses is encouraged in addition to residential development. The continued focus on prioritising the town centre for all retail and appropriate commercial activity, with enhanced connectivity between Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch through enhanced pedestrian linkages is therefore encouraged.

Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils are keen to promote and accommodate such schemes in order to stimulate investment activity in the settlement, but do not wish to detract from the historic character of the town centre in order to achieve this. Consequently, all new development will need to be appropriate in terms of use and of the highest design quality.

​​​​​​​5.4.1 Regeneration Opportunities

National Policy Objective 16 of the National Planning Framework sets out to ‘target the reversal of rural decline in the core of small towns and villages through sustainable targeted measures that address vacant premises and deliver sustainable reuse and regeneration outcomes.’

The responsibility for the implementation of policies and objectives contained within this Draft Joint LAP will be dependent on a number of possible funding sources, including EU programmes and grants, the National Government, the County Council and the private sector.

Of particular relevance is the €1bn Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) which will apply to all settlements and rural areas with fewer than 10,000 people, which will operate under the Department of Rural and Community Development. In response to current issues around town centre vacancy, dereliction and underutilisation particularly in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch the Councils will support future funding applications under this scheme.  Proposals for funding applications are not restricted to the projects as listed below, all projects which comply with the overriding objectives of the relevant County Development Plan and this Joint LAP will be supported.

The regeneration and refurbishment of the following buildings and sites within the settlement would greatly enhance the appearance and vitality of the settlement. (Refer to Map 1).

  1. Abbey Hall
  2. Refurbishment of the Town Library and development of a Men’s Shed
  3. Development of a Car Park and Public Toilets at Turf Market
  4. Development of an access road and car park for Outdoor Activity Centre
  5. The public realm associated with the Quay in both Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch.

These projects aim to re-purpose significant town centre buildings which will deliver a range of benefits socially, economically and culturally for the town.

TC1: Town Centre Policy

It is the policy of both Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to protect and enhance the role of the main core area of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch as a vibrant and attractive area.  


It is an objective of the Plan:

TCO1.1: To support the delivery of projects for town centre regeneration which comply with the provisions of the relevant CDP and this Joint LAP submitted as funding applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. 

TCO1.2: To encourage and facilitate the re-use and regeneration of vacant or underused buildings for appropriate town centre uses through incentives such as Small Business Vacant Premises Scheme[2].

TCO1.3: To improve the accessibility of the town centre with particular emphasis on creating an environment that is accessible to pedestrians and cyclists through improved parking and pedestrian facilities.

TCO1.4: To facilitate enhancement and improvement of the physical fabric and environment of the town centre through public realm initiatives including footpath and public lighting improvements to assist in making the town centre a more pedestrian friendly place.

TC01.5: To investigate traffic managements options for strengthening the pedestrian links across the River Barrow to better integrate the town centres of Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch and maximise access to local shops, schools and other amenities.

​​​​​​​ 5.5 THE FOOD ECONOMY

Food and tourism also play a major part in the contemporary experience and visitor economy in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch. The links between food and tourism therefore provides a platform for supporting and expanding local economic development. Food experiences help to brand and market destinations as well as support the local culture which is so attractive to tourists. In 2010, the County Food Strategy set out a roadmap for the development of food enterprise culture in Kilkenny. The Taste of Kilkenny Food Trail is one of a range of leisure trails developed by Trail Kilkenny across the county and is supported by the Kilkenny Leader Partnership. Carlow Food Trail was also established in Co. Carlow in 2016, and brings together the food story of the county in a catalogue that provides information on artisan and organic producers and on large food manufacturers in the county whose products are available countrywide, while at the same time encouraging an exploration of the county’s scenic landscape. 

The food sector of the tourism industry in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch is currently underdeveloped. However, there is potential for this sector to be successful in this settlement and therefore the development and enhancement of this sector is supported by this Draft Joint LAP.  ​​​​​​​


The overarching objective of the Retail Planning Guidelines (2012) is to enhance the vitality and viability of the city and town centres in all their functions through sequential development. Sequential development means that:

“Subject to the requirements listed below, only where the applicant can demonstrate and the planning authority is satisfied, that there are no sites or potential sites within a city, town centre or designated district centre should an edge-of-centre site be considered. In addition, only in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that there are no sites or potential sites available either within the centre or on the edge of these centres should an out-of-centre site be considered.”

When considering proposals for retail, the Planning Authority will:

  • Require a sequential approach to the provision of new retail facilities i.e. new retail facilities will be required to locate on lands zoned for mixed uses through the redevelopment and/or reuse of existing vacant premises where appropriate.
  • Restrict internal retail leakage from the main core area of the settlement

Notwithstanding the sequential approach, where the Planning Authority considers that the proposed development, by virtue of its nature and/or proposed location, will undermine the vibrancy or vitality of the town centre, such development shall be refused in accordance with the Retail Planning Guidelines.​​​​​​​

5.6.1 COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic experienced nationwide has negatively impacted on the retail sector throughout Ireland. During the course of this pandemic and in the aftermath, it was necessary for retailers to adapt new methods to enable the operation of their business and meet the demands of their customers i.e. online shopping, delivery service. Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils are aware the function of the town centre as we know it may no longer be viable for retailers. The local authority is willing to consider alternative functions for the town centre and the way in which businesses operate to ensure their vitality and viability.

Retail Objectives

It is an objective of the Plan;

REO1.1: To promote the town centre for retail development and restrict further significant retail development (convenience and comparison) outside of the lands zoned ‘Mixed Use’ within the Plan.


Proposals for new shopfronts and advertising signs should be sensitively designed to protect and retain the character of the town. There are many shopfronts that are of special architectural, artistic, social and cultural interest in the town. These shopfronts are an attractive element providing a sense of character to the settlement. The retention of these shopfronts and avoidance of clutter which may conceal or obscure them will be encouraged. Property owners, business and other stakeholders will also be encouraged to improve the visual appearance of existing shopfronts and signage. The operation of external seating areas on the public footpath and the provision of free-standing advertising hoardings such as a sandwich board sign are subject to a Section 254 licence by either Kilkenny or Carlow County Council and should not impact on the accessibility of footpaths to all users including pedestrians.

SF1: Shopfronts Policy

It is the policy of both Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to support the provision of high-quality shopfronts and signage which are in keeping with the existing shopfronts, and which contribute positively to and enhance the streetscape, and to seek to control and limit superfluous signage.


It is an objective of Kilkenny and Carlow Council to:

SFO1.1: To ensure that new signage contributes positively to and enhances the streetscape in accordance with the guidance set out in Kilkenny County Council Guidance on Shopfronts and Advertising Signs and Section 11.13 of Carlow County Development Plan 2015-2021 and to avoid clutter of over advertising. New signage that negatively impacts or obscures shopfronts recognised as being of special interest will be discouraged.


Arts and culture activities enable people to develop a sense of ownership of their area and to achieve a sense of place. The provision of necessary community infrastructure is vital if arts and culture related activities are to expand and continue to make a meaningful impact in the plan area. There is potential for the area to generate tourism through arts/music festivals, art exhibitions and installations etc. The provision of appropriate cultural facilities should be explored.

Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils both support cultural participation and practice through partnerships and collaborations, through significant direct and indirect support and through the provision of cultural infrastructure across each County. Kilkenny’s Cultural and Creative Strategy 2018-2022 is an Integrated Strategic Plan for the delivery of Arts, Heritage and Library Services of Kilkenny County Council. Its five strategic policies include:

  1. Enable best practice delivery of culture
  2. Increase and diversify participation
  3. Support culture in rural and urban areas
  4. Engage children and young people in culture
  5. Communicate the value of culture

Carlow County Council, including Carlow Tourism, actively promotes arts, cultural and entertainment throughout the county. Carlow County Council offers a number of grants and incentives to artists in the County namely Arts Act Grant, ArtLinks, Per Cent for Art Scheme along with Carlow Arts Festival (Eigse), a 10-day festival held in Carlow Town each year since 1979.  Carlow Arts Festival is one of only six strategically funded festivals by the Arts Council in Ireland. In existence for over 40 years and held on the grounds of Carlow College in June each year, it has influenced the establishment of a very solid arts and cultural infrastructure within the county and is firmly rooted in the identity of Carlow.

The settlement of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch is renowned for its many artists and crafts people i.e. Cushendale Woolen Mills and Duiske Glass. The strong cultural and arts community in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch includes several groups and facilitates the organisation of various festivals throughout the year including the Graiguenamanagh Town of Books Festival, Walk and Talk Festival, Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch Annual Regatta and Graiguenamanagh Music Festival. The vibrancy of these festivals in the settlement also poses significant tourism potential and high-quality cultural events and festivals which celebrate Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and support community and tourism initiatives will be supported in this Draft Joint LAP.

In 2017 the committees of the Graiguenamanagh Town of Books Festival and the annual Regatta collaborated to combine the two main weekend festivals in the settlement into a month-long festival of events to include a walking festival and a traditional music weekend. In 2018 the first month long festival was held.

ACCE1: Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy

It is the policy of the Plan to support the Arts, Culture and Creative Economy in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch to showcase and promote the settlement and its unique creative offering.


ACCE1.1: To support, where appropriate, the continued growth of the craft and creative economy in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch.

ACCE1.2: To enhance the role of venues within the town to facilitate events associated with some of the County’s signature festivals and other festivals.

ACCE1.3: To support the development of linkages between historical sites within and around Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and the amenity sites in its hinterland

ACCE1.4: To support the continued success of high-quality cultural events and festivals which celebrate Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and support its community and tourism product.

​​​​​5.9 TOURISM

Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and its hinterland has widely been acknowledged as a visitor destination in its own right in addition to being well placed to provide a tourism support for a potential county wide heritage and tourism economy in both Kilkenny and Carlow. The town of Graiguenamanagh and the settlement of Tinnahinch both attain a rich heritage, including the internationally important Duiske Abbey and its location on the Barrow Navigation and at the intersection of two National Waymarked Trails. The Draft Joint LAP will encourage the development of tourism activities such as waterways activities, agri-tourism, green/ecotourism, art and craft retailing, food markets, local and other craft type activities so as to diversify the tourism product in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch.

Heritage based tourism is recognised as a key economic driver for the settlement that has the potential to generate employment across a number of sectors and to create a multiplier effect within the local economy. Duiske Glass has achieved a worldwide reputation and attracts many visitors to its factory shop on High Street. Graiguenamanagh is also part of the ‘Kilkenny Craft Trail’ an initiative set up by Kilkenny County Council which also attracts a large number of visitors.

​​​​​​​5.9.1 Barrow Valley Activities Hub

Barrow Valley Activities Hub also known as ‘The Hub’ is a bespoke community facility strategically located along the banks of the River Barrow. The building provides changing and shower facilities, kitchen and a large meeting room. The Hub was developed to increase the attractiveness of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch to overnight and day visitors as well as groups who wish to engage in water sports activities in the River Barrow.

Due to its strategic location within the town centre of Graiguenamanagh the facility is central to local walks/trails and other amenities in the area. The location and existing and future access points to ‘The Hub’ will be considered in the future development of recreational amenities in the settlement. ​​​​​​​

5.9.2 COVID-19

Due to the travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to curtail the spread of the virus the tourism industry suffered a huge economic loss. In an attempt to reduce the effect of this loss staycations within Ireland was heavily promoted by Irish tourism bodies. A nationwide publicity campaign gives towns and villages similar to those of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch an opportunity to attract additional tourists to the settlement and strengthen the tourism industry. Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch currently attracts large number of day tourists however it is an objective to increase the number of tourists staying overnight. The tourist industry in particular those offering accommodation must take advantage of such promotional opportunities to attract new visitors to the area. ​​​​​​​

5.9.3 Development Associated with Water Sports

The River Barrow presents an opportunity to develop tourism facilities which will deliver social, health, economic and environmental benefits to both visitors and residents. The River Barrow provides a popular boating and angling centre – The Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch Regatta takes place each August Bank Holiday and is reputed to be the oldest regatta on Irelands inland waterways. Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch has been identified as a major boating centre in the development of the Grand Canal Barrow Navigation by the OPW and Waterways Ireland.

Section of Kilkenny County Development Plan and Section 8.11.9 of Carlow County Development Plan sets out criteria for development associated with water sports adjacent to waterways and inland lakes. 

It should be noted that Kilkenny and/or Carlow County Council may require management plans for particular water areas to address the compatibility of such varying demands.  Most development associated with water sports such as slipways, boathouses, toilet and changing facilities, parking areas and access will require planning permission, and an assessment of the ecological impacts on the surrounding area. Carlow and Kilkenny County Councils will require a high quality of design in terms of layout, buildings and other structures and in the treatment of boundaries either adjacent to the road or the actual waterway. Both County Councils will normally require details of landscaping and surface treatments to accompany all planning applications.​​​​​​​

5.9.4 Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study

Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study[3] was initiated by Kilkenny Leader Partnership whom commissioned SLR to assess the existing and potential economic and cultural tourism offering in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch, with a particular focus along the riverbank, downstream of the George Semple Bridge over the River Barrow. This study was supported by Kilkenny Local Economic Community Plan (LECP) which provides a blueprint for local and community development funding. This includes programmes such as the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme and the LEADER rural development programme.

In 2006 a similar study was completed for the settlement namely ‘Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch Development and Economic Study’. This study proposed the concept of a tourism hub for Graiguenamanagh to increase the tourism activity in the settlement which resulted in the development of ‘The Hub’. The success of ‘The Hub’ and the need to further develop the tourism economy in the settlement has resulted in the adoption of the ‘Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study’.

The Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study identifies the potential linkages between the various tourism and recreational assets and amenities in the area, setting out a number of concepts to stimulate sustainable economic development and attract inward public and private investment. 

This study identified a number of potential projects for Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch that will enhance its attractiveness as a visitor destination for day visitors/independent travellers including cyclists, walkers and holiday makers travelling by car. Over the period of the plan, it is estimated there would be 5,000 independent travellers in year one and this number would increase by 5% and 10% per annum through to year 5.

The Tourism and Recreational Concept Study identified the existing overnight accommodation offering in Graiguenamanagh. At present Graiguenamanagh has one guest house offering visitor accommodation, ‘The Waterside’ along with the recently developed Brandon Hill Glamping site. Mount Brandon accommodation and pottery school are also located within Tinnahinch. For the settlement to develop successfully as a tourist destination it is necessary the offering of overnight accommodation continues to grow and this plan will continue to facilitate the development of the hospitality sector, including proposals for overnight accommodation in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch.   The River Park Tinnahinch

The Tourism and Recreational study proposes a concept for a river park on the Tinnahinch Quay based on the creation of a high-quality public realm. The key function of this space is to create accessibility for users of river craft to the quays but also for casual visitors to the river for leisure use. This proposal would further enhance the link between Graiguenamanagh and Tinnahinch, existing heritage sites and new and existing residential areas. It is acknowledged that the River Barrow is subject to recurrent flooding and uses within the area as public open space. It is an objective of this Draft Joint LAP to support the development of a river park and associated amenity uses and infrastructural supports in Tinnahinch in conjunction with the flood relief works and Flood Risk Management Guidelines.

TO1: Tourism

It is a policy of Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to promote the significant heritage and tourism potential of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and to support sustainable tourism development.


It is an objective of the Plan:

TO2.1: To support the implementation of the Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study, and the development of tourism infrastructure (in particular at The Hub), overnight accommodation (in particular Brandondale House), attractions and facilities at appropriate locations subject to the appropriate protection of architectural heritage and natural amenities.

TO2.2: To support the implementation of the Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study, and the development of outdoor leisure activities and a River Park and associated uses on lands that are designated as open space, subject to the protection of landscape character and natural heritage (Natura 2000 conservation objectives) and inclusion of construction management plans.

TO2.3: To support the promotion of strategic tourist sites, the sensitive restoration/conservation of heritage buildings and sites including Tinnahinch Castle and operate flexibly with regard to the use of converted buildings to facilitate heritage tourism/social enterprise.

TO2.4: To facilitate tourism activities such as waterways activities, eco-tourism, niche retailing, food markets, local and other craft type activities so as to diversify the tourism product in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch, subject to relevant environmental assessments.

TO2.5: To support the development of linkages between historical sites within and around Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch including pedestrian access to St. Michaels Well in Tinnahinch.

TO2.6: To encourage and facilitate the delivery of a mix of appropriate uses including tourism and leisure related developments on lands zoned ‘Mixed Use’ within Tinnahinch. 

[1] Graiguenamanagh/Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study, November 2019

[3] Graiguenamanagh/ Tinnahinch Tourism and Recreational Project Concept Study