Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and Thomas Byrne, Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, have announced funding of up to €120 million under the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The scheme open for application on Apr 26.

The SRC – The Shannonside Recreational Campus, welcomes the Minister Martin’s launch of the funding programme and believe that the Carrick on Shannon located Campus is a prime project and are actively working on their application.

In 2013 as part of a Leitrim Sports Partnership initiative, a delegation went on a fact finding mission to view sporting facilities in Co. Tyrone. As part of that tour they visited the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone where they encountered:

  • Under 10 soccer academy
  • Under 14 club gaelic football match
  • A local schoolboy rugby team playing against a visiting Belfast team
  • And an U 16 County camogie game between Tyrone and Cavan

…all taking place side by side on four separate pitches. It was impressive and inspiring and the catalyst that ignited the formation of a steering group to make a similar recreation campus a reality for the Shannonside region; The Shannonside Recreational Campus (the SRC).

With a tag line, ‘Play, Perform, Participate’, the ethos of the SRC is to provide a shared training space belonging to no one club, sport, race or religion. The SRC sports campus will undoubtedly be of benefit to everyone, of all ages and recreational and sporting needs.

Fast forward 10 years and much has been achieved. The SRC project, which started as an ambitious dream is fast becoming a reality.

In 2019 Leitrim County Council purchased a site, strategically located just off the N4 providing ease of access from the greater region and beyond. Planning permission drawings have been prepared, submitted and approved and groundworks commenced in Sept 2023, however were delayed due to weather conditions.

The scope and plans for the SRC are far reaching and include;

  • All-weather full size 4g pitch compliant for GAA, Soccer and Rugby
  • Outdoor floodlit grass pitch
  • 400m 8 lane tartan track with all field sports catered for
  • Large Indoor Arena catering for 2 indoor basketball courts
  • Hi-performance gym
  • A hurling wall
  • Out and indoor changing facilities
  • Car and bus parking

To make an such an all-inclusive, community focused recreation campus of this scale a reality, funding is crucial.

The SRC Steering Committee, made up of Design & Build, Finance and Communication sub-committees have had their work cut out for them over the 10 years and no stone has nor will be left unturned to deliver the funding required to deliver this badly needed facility to the region.

To date, local private supporters generously funded the initial feasibility study. The Planning permission drawings and application process was Leitrim County Council grant aided, The project build cost plan and business plan were Leitrim Development Company Funded. A successful application was submitted for a Community Forum Grant with €1 million obtained for Phase 1 (4g pitch) groundworks. An application has been submitted for Peace Plus funding and also for Sports Capital Infrastructure grant.

As you can imagine, a project of the scale of the SRC comes with a hefty price, but the payout to the community young and old is immeasurable. This year, like last year, due to incessant rain, has seen training sessions and matches for GAA, soccer and rugby postponed and cancelled as our county grass pitches have proved unplayable time and time again. Our underage and adult teams alike have been forced to travel to neighbouring counties to train on all-weather pitches or to pay for indoor facilities. Our athletes are still travelling to Sligo and Athlone to access training facilities and the Leitrim County Track and Field Championships are being held in Sligo this month due to there not being a 400m athletics track in Leitrim.

The need for this facility for upcoming generations, for the wellbeing of our adult and elderly communities and our clubs is needed now more than ever.

This recent announcement of Large Scale Sports Infrastructure funding it perfectly timed for the SRC. We are primed and in the ideal place to make good use of such funding.

The assessment of applications for the LLSIF, for funding of between €600,000 and €30 million, will take into account population size, sustainability, reducing administrative overheads and ensuring that similar access is provided to accommodate access by men and women to LSSIF-funded facilities.

Minister Catherine Martin said:

“It is vitally important that we continue to invest in sporting facilities so that people of all ages and abilities can benefit from their use. We need to maintain capital investment in Sport. I am pleased that following the confirmation of the revised capital allocations under the National Development Plan the government is in a position to provide more funding assistance for the development of large-scale sports projects. I encourage all eligible projects applicants with suitable projects to consider applying for this competitive process. New projects could be designed to increase participation in sport, to provide large venues or stadia or to boost high performance and new swimming pool projects will also be considered.”

Minister Thomas Byrne said:

“Continued investment in sports facilities across the country is essential so we can achieve our ambitious targets for sports participation and that is why I am delighted to welcome the opening of a new round of applications under the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund. The implementation of the new Similar Access Requirement will also ensure that women and men enjoy similar access to all sports facilities which are publicly funded. I have been delighted to visit and engage with projects funded under the first round of LSSIF, including Connacht Rugby, the Linear Walkway Project in Meath, Phase 1 of Walsh Park in Waterford, and the Regional Athletics Hub in Limerick. Deliverability is a key focus of the LSSIF and I know that many more existing projects will be completed and open to the public following the additional funding confirmed last December. Today’s announcement of a new round of funding means we can build on the progress made to date under LSSIF and ensure projects across the country get an opportunity to deliver the facilities that their communities need and will participate in for decades to come.”

Chair of the SRC Committee, Brendan Lowe said:

“It has been clear for years that an all inclusive recreation and sporting facility such as the SRC is required for the Shannonside region. For years parents and competitors have been travelling to neighbouring counties to play, participate and perform. And for years, we have chatting amongst ourselves on the side line of pitches and running tracks, wondering why our children and athletes don’t have the same facilities and opportunities as others. It is time for us all to come together and to make this happen for ourselves and the generations to come. All clubs and all individuals will have the opportunity to benefit from the SRC. This campus is not for any one sport, club nor community group, it is for the benefit of all. We will continue to pursue ever funding opportunity that becomes available and we will be making a strong application for this additional LSSIF funding. We encourage everyone to become familiar with the SRC, and to understand that this project is for us all so that we can play, perform and participate despite the weather and with less travelling. Follow us on social media and check our the SRC at www.thesrc.ie.