Digiclare is a new initiative of Clare County Council as part of its Rural Development Strategy to support rural communities by providing flexible, affordable and local office facilities and high-speed broadband connectivity in rural locations in County Clare.
The first three digital hubs were opened on Friday 2nd March 2018 and we welcomed our first users on Monday the 5th of March. The fourth Ennistymon Hub opened November 2019. The Kilkee Hub is located in the Elliot Centre, Kilkee and opened July 2020. Two more hubs opened at the end of 2020, the Corofin Hub located in the Community Centre, Corofin and another hub in the Michael Cusack Centre, Carron. The Kilfenora Hub opened in March 2021 in the Burren Centre. The Cross Hub opened in June 2021. The Ennis Hub opened in November 2021 and is located in the Quin Road Business Park. The Sixmilebridge Hub opened in February 2022.
These facilities utilise broadband and digital technology as a key enabler of Rural Development. The digital hubs will support rural social enterprises and the wider community by facilitating e-working, small-scale training and conferencing.
In providing these services, a key ethos of these hubs is to offer our users flexibility by facilitating arrangements to suit varying requirements. These spaces are designed to suit residents, entrepreneurs and visitors alike e.g.:
Clare County Council is committed to further expanding its network of digital hubs in the interest of local communities and in the interest of job creation. Over the next 12 months, we will develop a large-scale Broadband Hub in Ennis, including a hot desk facility and incubation units.
The 10-year Clare Rural Development Strategy [PDF, 31MB] targets the creation of 4,000 jobs over the lifetime of the plan through the development of community-led social enterprises, rural tourism and small and medium enterprises.
These will be supported by the Clare LEO (Local Enterprise Office), Enterprise Ireland, IDA, the Office of the Action Plan for Jobs, the LEADER Programme and the new ‘Rural and Community Development Support Unit’ of Clare County Council, for which we are currently recruiting. The opening of the first three digital hubs marks a solid beginning in that journey.
Our Rural Strategy refers to the benefits of a combined Town approach for Kilrush and Kilkee and the cooperation of neighbouring parishes/villages. This investment in the West Clare Municipal District office is a signal of our confidence in the businesses and communities of these combined towns, parishes and villages.
Clare County Council will shortly launch a Digital Strategy for County Clare, the overarching theme of which is supporting Rural, Community and Economic Development. Its key aim will be to bridge the digital divide as well as creating digitally intelligent communities in Clare.
The Rural Development Strategy is supported by the ‘Clare Digital Strategy’ that provides for what are called ‘Intelligent Communities’ that ensure local people as well as enterprises and entrepreneurs have access to high speed broadband in their own community. Under our rural strategy, a number of digital hubs are being established throughout the county. Entrepreneurs, visitors and local people, irrespective of their sector (agriculture, tourism, local services, international businesses, etc.) will have access to these hubs to use digital technologies as appropriate to their needs. In addition, the Strategy focuses on ensuring that broadband is available and that there is high internet connectivity in rural Clare and that communities have the skills and competencies to prosper in the digital society.