At the RIAI national awards ceremony on Thursday evening, the regeneration project for the town of Ramelton in Donegal won the ‘urban design’ award. There were 147 entries in the competition, and the entry submitted by Dedalus Architecture, under the title “Ramelton Castle Street Historic Towns Initiative Project”, was also highly commended in the “Sustainability” category.

The clients for the project were private building owners, the Ramelton Georgian Society and Donegal County Council. The project was funded by the Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the Historic Towns Initiative. In addition to the project being managed by County Conservation and Heritage Officers Collette Beattie and Dr Joseph Gallagher, further investment has been provided by Donegal County Council, with the balance of funding provided by the owners of individual buildings.

Ramelton is County Donegal’s first designated heritage town with a ‘heritage-focused’ action plan, which has been prepared by Moville-based conservation practice Dedalus Architecture. The plan, directing the regeneration of neglected urban fabric, has been developed in close collaboration with the Ramelton Georgian Society and Donegal County Council to build links to inform residents and undertake other projects under the plan.

The Ramelton Castle Street Historic Towns Initiative Project, the first of the heritage-focused plan actions to be implemented, involved the repair of twelve dilapidated or unused buildings, dramatically improving the appearance and future fortunes of the historic core of the city, with a small budget.

The project demonstrates the potential of modest urban-scale conservation and repair works to address regeneration in an inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective manner. Repairing our built heritage is an urgent challenge for all Irish cities and is a simple but essential first step to reducing energy consumption and essential action to combat climate change.

Duncan McLaren, Principal of Dedalus Architecture, thanked everyone for the huge support they had received in the public vote, and said he was delighted that the ongoing repair work program in the historic city of Ramelton in Donegal now gets the national recognition it deserves. This award follows commendation in 2020 by the Irish Planning Institute for the same team’s ‘involvement and engagement’ with the local Church Lane community in Letterkenny for work also funded under the Initiative historic towns. The award-winning team are currently hard at work on a major Historic Towns Initiative project in Ballyshannon, due for completion at the end of this year.

In another scoop for the county at the national awards ceremony, two projects by Rathmullan-based architects Pasparaskis Friel were highly praised, a private house and the Killybegs Regeneration Strategy and Action Plan, also for Donegal County Council.