The National Enterprise Town Awards: Villierstown

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Villierstown in Co Waterford.

Villierstown (Irish: An Baile Nua, meaning “the new town”) is a village in west County Waterford. It is situated on the banks of the River Blackwater. In the census of 2016, the population of the village was 276 and comprised of 105 households. The village is approximately 8 kilometres from Cappoquin and 20 kilometres from both Dungarvan and Youghal.

The village was designed and built in the 1740s by the Villiers-Stuart family, owners of Dromana House and Estates, specifically to support a linen industry which thereafter flourished in the village for almost a century.

The Villiers-Stuart family were descendants of the Fitzgerald Family, Lords of Decies and one of the family, Lord Henry Villiers-Stuart was the first Catholic Emancipation candidate elected to Parliament in 1826. One other claim to fame is that the village is the home place of Olympic silver medallist and World Cross Country champion, John Treacy.

Though small in numbers, the community is particularly vibrant and is often held up as an example of rural community endeavour and cohesion. The primary community group is Villierstown Education and Cultural Project (VECP) which acts as an umbrella group for other organisations within the community.

A few years back, unemployment, under-employment, emigration, lack of local jobs and lack of local services were considered to be the main obstacles to sustaining Villierstown as a vibrant rural community. Over the last few years, the community has undertaken a number of game-changing initiatives aimed at tackling these issues. Some of these initiatives involved:

  • Collaboration between the local community and Dromana Estates in order to develop the assets of the area
  • Collaboration with state agencies and other bodies (e.g. Waterford Leader Partnership, Waterford City and County Council, ETB, Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife Service etc) in order to advance the development of the community (e.g. REDZ funding to purchase boats and improve River Blackwater landing points, restoration of St Declan’s Way, establishment of walking routes, Town and Village Renewal Scheme)
  • Improvement of the heritage assets of the village and addressing dereliction and vacancy (e.g. Villierstown Church restoration, Enterprise Centre development)
  • Development of the community Montessori school
  • Creation of local employment opportunities (e.g. Development of Villierstown Boathouse, establishment of Blackwater Eco Tours, development of Blackwater Eco Pods)
  • Taking a leadership role in the Blackwater Valley Economic Development Zone Project and in the on-going development of the Déise Blackwater Blueway

To undertake this work, the community involved itself in the development of community plans which all involved significant community consultation and participation as well as professional support in order to deliver top-class plans for projects which were fundable, implementable and sustainable.

Published: 6 November, 2019