Municipal Districts Operations & Rural Development

Town Centre First - Town Regeneration Office

Our towns deserve to thrive, Town Centre First enables them to achieve their potential.

Town Centre First aims to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community.

Town Centre First recognises that every town is unique. It lays the foundation for each town to develop, at a local level, their own plan led path forward.


town centre first logo collection

Population: 2,903 (2022 Census)

Skibbereen in West Cork, with a population of just under 3,000, serves as the heart of a much larger rural and agrarian hinterland playing a vital role in supporting various smaller local towns and villages all of which contribute significantly to the town’s economy and community. Skibbereen is ideally set at the gateway to West Cork and is located in the heart of one of Ireland’s most spectacular landscapes.


Skibbereen in West Cork

The topography around Skibbereen provides impressive panoramic views from elevated points offering extensive views of the town and its surrounding countryside. This is a significant asset to the town, especially the nearby ‘The Rock’ open space, which is located on a steeply rising headland directly next to the town centre and forms a picturesque backdrop with clear views of the rural landscape from within the town.

Skibbereen has a uniquely compact town centre probably arising from geographical constraints including the steeply rising topography and the River. The informal medieval street pattern formed at the centre of the town adjacent to the alignment of the Ilen River defines the town centre grain we see today and forms the essence of the rural Town Character of Skibbereen which is so valued.

Skibbereen’s architectural heritage is a mosaic of different styles and eras, reflecting its historical evolution and cultural significance. From Georgian and Victorian architecture to traditional Irish cottages, religious structures, and modern developments, Skibbereen’s buildings provide a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past and present. The collective value of these buildings presents an exceptional physical attribute that distinguishes Skibbereen.

In the future Skibbereen will continue to evolve into a thriving and sustainable market town that places great emphasis on the preservation of its natural and historic assets. These include the town’s historical architecture, picturesque riverside location, green areas, and the surrounding landscape of outstanding natural beauty.

The Town Team, along with all stakeholders, elected representatives, interest groups, and, most importantly, the local community and members of the public have shown tremendous interest and engagement throughout the project. This Town Centre First Plan is a testament to their collective efforts and stands as a comprehensive reference document, offering guidance for future sustainable development in Skibbereen.