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The Venue

27 June 2019

Honorary Life Membership for Rural Development Leader

Ballyhoura success example to others in rural Ireland

Carmel Fox has been one of the most influential and innovative drivers of rural development in Ireland over the past 30 years and her contribution was recognised at a ceremony in Ballsbridge today (27.06.19) when she was made an Honorary Life Member of the RDS.


In her time as CEO of Ballyhoura Development, the East Limerick / North Cork border has become an internationally recognised rural tourism destination, with an income of €45m per annum from tourism, supporting 1,650 jobs.


Carmel was in charge of one of the most effective and influential LEADER companies in Ireland over the past decades and can be credited with creating the environment that enabled the steady development of this relatively isolated area of the Mid-West.


Under her guidance, Ballyhoura became a dynamic and innovative leader of community-based development. Its approach is in line with best international practice and is highly regarded both nationally and internationally. Ballyhoura has received international recognition by being included as a model of good practice in the OECD: ‘Best Practices in Local Development’.


Many local businesses have started up because of this nurturing environment, with food producers being particularly notable. Taste of Ballyhoura food brand has been very successful and there are over 70 artisan food processors found in the locale. The creative sector has also taken off, with studios now dotted around the area catering for design, craft, music and other artforms.


In addition to her work with Ballyhoura, Carmel is a member of the Board of the Gorta Group which is using her experience and skill to develop rural communities in Africa. Carmel was also a member of Trocaire’s Programme Review Committee, of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) and of the Teagasc Authority.


Commenting on this year’s recipient, Chief Executive of the RDS, Michael Duffy said: Through her personal dedication to Ballyhoura Carmel has given a practical demonstration to others of how to create a vibrant and viable rural Ireland. She has also been generous with her time and expertise, lending guidance and advice for the benefit of others. The RDS is committed to maintaining a thriving rural Ireland through our work in agriculture, enterprise, science, the arts, and equestrianism. So to make Carmel an honorary life Member of the RDS, someone who shares our aims and values, is very fitting.

Carmel follows previous RDS Honorary Life Members from an agricultural background such as Anna Mae McHugh (1994) and Dr Noel Cawley (1998) and fellow Limerick people such as Dr Donal Nevin (2000) and Noel Dorr (2002).




Funded by the EU, LEADER supports both private enterprise and community groups in delivering projects aimed at improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging the diversification of economic activity in rural areas.


About The RDS  

The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) was founded in 1731 to contribute to a vibrant Ireland, culturally and economically. Today this mission finds voice through the RDS work programme which spans the areas of the arts, agriculture, enterprise, equestrianism and science.

The RDS awards Honorary Life Memberships annually to people who have made a significant contribution to Ireland.

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