175 rural and community projects around the country will share a €7.4 million fund which has been announced by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The projects, many of which are centered in rural areas, will each be in line for grants of up to €50,000.

Successful projects include artificial turf installations for sport; sensory gardens; handball alleys; outdoor cinemas; hurling walls; basketball courts; walkways; public toilets; community gyms; youth hubs; and community cafes.

The funding comes under the ‘Our Rural Future’ strategy for rural Ireland.

“Our Rural Future is all about a ground-up approach to rural development. Every community is different and the people who know best what their town, village or parish needs are the people who live there,” Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said.

She added: “I am pleased to award funding to a record number of applications this year.”

The minister noted that the recent census results show that there are now more people living and working in rural Ireland than ever before, something she described as “hugely positive”.

Minister Humphreys added that, given the response from communities, she is exploring the possibility of providing further funding in a second tranche of projects.

This isn’t the first time this month that Minister Humphreys’ department has opened the purse strings.

Last week the minister announced funding to the tune of €1 million to improve the quality of over 400 walking trails.

Under the initiative, grants of €1,000 to €3,000 will be provided to 175 community groups responsible for managing the trails throughout rural Ireland.

The funding is targeted towards 446 walking trails. The community groups will be able to use the grants to maintain and improve their local trail and promote its use to visitors.

Of the 446 trails, 168 are less than 5km in length and will be eligible for grants of €1,000; 255 trails are of 5km or more, and less than 20km, and will be eligible for grants of €2,800; and 23 trails are 20km or more in length and will be eligible for grants of €3,000.