Regions of Ireland: the West


West Regional Authority

Contact:      Mr. Mark O'Donnell (Director)



Address:      Woodquay Court, Woodquay, Galway

Tel:               +353-91-563842

Fax:              +353-91-561328


Profile of the Region

The West Region comprises the counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon plus the City of Galway.  The population of the region in the 2002 Census was 380,057 which is 9.7% of the national population.  The population density is 27 persons per sq. km, which is the lowest of any region in Ireland. The region is mainly rural in character, with only 30% of the population living in urban areas. The West Region is situated on the Western Seaboard, with the Atlantic Ocean forming the western boundary and the river Shannon forming the eastern boundary. Due to its rugged coastline, off shore islands, large numbers of quality beaches, its inland rivers, lakes, mountains and plains, to name but a few of the natural attractions, the region has an abundance of natural amenities which draw visitors from all over Ireland and elsewhere.  The area is renowned for the warmth of its people, for the “craic” and for the continuation of traditions, particularly the Irish Language, which is widely used in the Gaeltacht areas of the region and also in Galway city. The West Region has two airports located at Knock and Galway with services to Dublin, the UK and mainland Europe. There is an excellent rail service on the Galway to Dublin and Mayo to Dublin routes and a motorway/dual carriageway is being constructed and is due to be completed in 2010.

The West Region Authority map


  Socio-economic Data

NUTS level


Area (sq. kms)

13,801 sq. km

% of area of State




% of national population


Pop. density (persons/sq km)


Regional capital (town/city)

Galway City



Regional GDP (2002)

€ 7,878 m

GDP (% of State, 2002)


GDP (% of EU25, 2002)




Employment rate


Employment in key industries:

1. Agricultural


2. Industrial


3. Services


  Regional Structures

The West Regional Authority is one of eight Authorities established by the Government under the Local Government Act 1991 (Regional Authority Establishment Orders 1993). The Authority comprises 28 elected members from the constituent Local Authorities within the Region: Galway County council, Galway City Council, Mayo County Council and Roscommon County Council. The members of the Regional Authority meet once a month. The main function of the Regional Authority is:

  • to promote co-ordination and, where appropriate, co-operation , joint action , joint arrangements, agreements, communication or consultation between local authorities or other public authorities in the region or between such authorities of other regions.
  • to promote co-ordination, consistency and compatibility with programmes, plans policies, proposals or objectives of the Government or any Minister of the Government.

In carrying out its duties the Authority is assisted by two committees, the Operational Committee and the EU Operational Committee. The Operational Committee’s function is to assist and advise the Authority in the discharge of its functions. Membership is drawn from senior management from Local Authorities and other public service agencies in the region. The EU Operational Committee assists the Authority in matters relating to EU assistance and the monitoring of various EU Operational Programmes applicable in the Region.

  Regional Priorities

The Regional Planning Guidelines (RPG) for the West Regions, which were published in 2004, provide a 20-year strategic planning framework for the development of the region. Key priorities identified in the RPG include:

  • To formulate and implement a settlement strategy for the region that builds up ‘critical mass’ in the nominated “gateway”, Galway, the “hub” of Tuam and the “linked hub” of Castlebar/Ballina whilst creating a network of smaller settlements which will develop into vibrant communities finding support to/from the “gateway” and “hub”/”linked hub”
  • To support development in the towns and villages in the region that is in sympathy with the existing built environment and ensures that any approved developments are in keeping with the town/village ethos which may be unique to each town/village
  • To ensure that all transport routes identified for construction and up grading in the RPG be progress as soon as possible to facilitate the implementation of the NSS and promote balanced regional development
  • To encourage the promotion of the region as a location for major industrial development be ensuring a coordinated approach to implementing policies and infrastructural priorities set out for the region
  • To recognize the need for increased employment opportunities in order to sustain viable rural communities
  • To place particular emphasis on the inter regional linkages when formulating policies and adopt a coordinated approach in relevant decision making processes.

  European Priorities

This West Region faces many challenges which are also common to other regions in the EU. Some of these include:

  • the decline of agriculture and the need to promote rural diversification
  • increasing urbaniation
  • pressure on the regions natural environment
  • job creation in smaller towns and villages
  • coordinating rural and urban development
  • changing trends in tourism

The West Region is interested in sharing its experiences in addressing these challenges and would also like to learn from and collaborate with other EU regions in developing innovative solutions to these challenges.


  European Experience

As the economy of the West Region has changed, so too has the profile of EU funded projects in which the region has participated. In the past the region participated in a number of EU projects dealing with unemployment and social conditions in the rural areas. However, in recent years the emphasis has shifted to the areas of enterprise promotion and innovation and technology deployment. Other areas of interest and experience include organic farming, tourism development and spatial planning.

Example of EU Project

Project name: TechLink

EU Programme: Interreg IIIB

Project Description:

The TechLink project aims to develop and exchange of innovative practices among the participating regions. The partners in the project are Business Innovation Centres (BICs), Technical Institutes and Developing Agencies, which have considerable experience of supporting the development of small and medium enterprises. The participating regions have a strong tradition of entrepreneurship but are now facing increased competition from countries with a lower cost base. The regions involved are therefore faced with the common challenge of building new strengths of competitiveness based on knowledge and innovation.

The TechLink Project aims to establish a co-operation network among the participating regions and to develop a strategic plan to guide innovation in the regions also. This will be achieved by promoting interaction among the regions through regional and inter regional seminars, missions of entrepreneurs and developing a programme with university students and young graduates  It is anticipated that the project will promote a greater awareness of the importance of Innovation, provide greater insight into innovation management techniques and that participating regions will learn from other regions who are leaders in innovation and best practice

Total Funding:                 €2,343,760

EU Contribution:           €1,321,728

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