Chapter 5: Sustainable Communities

Closed15 Apr, 2023, 8:00am - 29 May, 2023, 5:00pm

Community infrastructure of social, sporting, educational, and amenity value are crucial to provide opportunities for inclusion of all community members and provides benefits to health and helps attract inward investment. An Age Friendly Strategy for Limerick was adopted in 2015 and this commits to improving key areas of infrastructure service, information and overall social response to older persons needs and aims to improve overall quality of life.

Abbeyfeale Community Council published the Abbeyfeale Community Enhancement Plan 2015 to provide a forum for the local community to express their vision of how they would like Abbeyfeale to develop. The overall vision for the people living and working within the community could be described as follows: A clean, natural, vibrant, safe, attractive Town where people are encouraged to visit, live and create business opportunities.

Figure 5.1: Abbeyfeale Town Park    

The   Council has had regard to this document in the formulation of the LAP. The Draft Abbeyfeale Local Area Plan 2023 - 2029 provides policy support for expansion of existing community infrastructure and development of new services in Abbeyfeale to meet the needs of all sectors of the community. This Draft Plan zones 12.57 ha for community and educational facilities.                                               

Policy C1: Community Infrastructure, Recreation and Open Space Strategic Policy: It is policy of the Council to:

Support the provision of a broad range of high quality social/community, educational, healthcare and recreational facilities and infrastructure in Abbeyfeale.

5.1        Community and Education Facilities

The provision of good quality educational and childcare facilities is important to support the development of sustainable communities and facilitate economic development in Abbeyfeale. Abbeyfeale has a range of educational facilities, including childcare, pre-school/early learning, two primary schools, a post-primary school and a vocational/post-leaving cert training campus.  In the Census 2016, 20% of the population in Abbeyfeale were aged 0-14 years. This was an increase of 2% from the 2011 Census. According the 2016 Census, 25.7% of the population in the town has attained a third level qualification, which is lower than the average for Limerick.


Figure 5.2 Abbeyfeale College

Scoil Mhuire, known locally as St. Mary’s Boys National School, is located on Church Street, and in the school year 2022/23 had an enrolment of 97 pupils.  Scoil Mhathair Dé Girls National School is located on Convent Street and had an enrolment of 103 pupils for the school year 2022/23.  The post-primary school Coláiste ĺde agus Iosef is located beside Scoil Mhathair Dé on Convent Street and has an enrolment of 678 for the 2022/23 academic year, attracting students from Limerick, North Kerry and North Cork.  For further education and training opportunities the College of FET – Abbeyfeale Campus at Mountmahon offers a wide range of courses to advance into employment or further education opportunities.

Figure 5.2 Abbeyfeale College

The HSE provides a Primary Care Clinic on Main Street, Abbeyfeale.  St. Itas’ Voluntary Housing and Daycare Centre is located off Convent Street, beside the Glórach Theatre, and provides a range of services to the elderly and vulnerable adults.  Abbeyfeale Garda Station is located on Convent Street and Abbeyfeale Fire Service is located on Main Street, both important community services in the town.

According the 2016 Census, 15% of the population were aged 65+, which was an increase of 1.5% on the 2011 Census figure.  Limerick City and County Council’s “Age Friendly Limerick Strategy 2015-2020” commits to improving key areas of infrastructure, services, information and an overall social response to older person’s issues. Limerick City and County Council in conjunction with Healthy Limerick, which is informed by the national policy, Healthy Ireland: A National Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025 seeks to enhance Limerick from a health and wellbeing perspective. The Council has regard to the National Positive Aging Strategy.

The primary role of the Planning Authority with regard to community facilities and services is to ensure that there is an adequate policy framework in place inclusive of the reservation of lands, should additional services be required.  The Council will continue to support further economic and social progress with regard to community services.

Objective C 01: Community and Educational Facilities: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Ensure that there are sufficient educational and community facilities to meet the needs generated by proposed developments, by requiring the completion of a Sustainability Statement and Social Infrastructure Assessment, in line with the requirements of the Limerick Development Plan 2022 – 2028.
  2. Ensure that childcare and education facilities are provided in tandem with new residential areas, at accessible locations, which maximise opportunities for walking, cycling and use of public transport and comply with all relevant standards.
  3. Facilitate the development of lifelong learning facilities and digital capacity for distance learning.
  4. Support and facilitate the development and expansion of health service infrastructure by the Health Services Executive and other statutory and voluntary agencies and private healthcare providers in the provision of appropriate healthcare facilities and the provision of community-based care facilities at appropriate locations, subject to proper planning consideration and the principles of sustainable development.       
  5. Require future development of new community facilities to generally meet the following criteria of the 10 Minute Town Concept, generally located within 800m walking/cycling distance of the town centre and located centrally with respect to the community it serves, taking into account limitations of topography and the road and footpath network.
  6. Support and facilitate sports clubs, schools, cultural groups and community organisations in the provision, improvement and expansion of community services, sports and recreation amenities, multi-purpose spaces at appropriate locations that are universally accessible.  The Council promotes opportunities for multi and co-use active and passive recreational amenities including sports and recreational facilities, playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment within existing areas of open space.
  7. Support Healthy Limerick initiatives and the Age Friendly Limerick Strategy 2015 – 2020 and any subsequent replacement initiative/strategy to deliver recreation, environmental improvements, active travel, health infrastructure, as well as addressing the need for the development of independent living, sheltered housing, and respite accommodation for changing demographic needs.  The Council be guided by the National Positive Aging Strategy and any replacement thereof.
  8. Support the upgrade of St. Ita’s Community Hall, subject to funding.
  9. Support the development of a new cemetery in Abbeyfeale, on lands located at Knockbrack to the north of the town. The lands shall be safeguarded for the future delivery of a graveyard, as per the Zoning Map.  

5.2           Parks, Walkways, Open Space and Recreation

Abbeyfeale has a range of recreational facilities and amenities, including walkways/cycleways, clubs for rugby, athletics, cycling, soccer and angling.  The GAA club is located close to, but outside the town at Shanbally, Co. Kerry.   Páirc Cois Féile or Abbeyfeale Town Park is a 12 hectare amenity on the banks of the River Feale with over 7km of walkway, an astro-turf mini-pitch, outdoor exercise equipment, pond, woodland, playground, basketball court, fairy park, public art sensory area and many other health and recreational amenities.  The Park was awarded the international accreditation Green Flag Award, in recognition of the quality of this amenity in terms of accessibility, biodiversity and facilities. Abbeyfeale Community Council in partnership with the Council are developing a biodiversity educational park on New Street on under-used lands acquired by the Council for community outdoor space.


 Figure 5.3: Limerick Greenway – Abbeyfeale

The Limerick Greenway is located to the north of the town.  It is a cycling/walking amenity extending from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick into Co. Kerry along the re-purposed former Limerick – Kerry railway line.  Public access to this amenity is at the former Railway Station in Abbeyfeale.  This amenity seamlessly links the West Limerick landscape with towns and villages linking some of the county’s most historic sites, offering its visitors a range of activities, including walking, cycling, sightseeing and family adventures. The Limerick Greenway offers a huge tourism opportunity for the town of Abbeyfeale, in terms of the development of tourism accommodation, café/restaurants and other niche tourism products.                                                                       

In addition to the superb amenity that is the Limerick Greenway, there is a 6.8km Slí an Slainte walking route within the town, promoted by the Irish Heart Foundation. There may be further potential for appropriate recreational activities close to the Feale and Allaughan rivers, such as angling or water-based activities subject to an appropriate level of ecological assessment, given the sensitivity of these waterways, in the Lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  Limerick City and County Council is committed to the provision, upgrade, maintenance and expansion of connected, usable and appropriately located open space, amenities and recreational opportunities in the town in conjunction with private, public and voluntary organisations, subject to funding.

The strategic vision for Abbeyfeale set out in Chapter 3 recognises that if Abbeyfeale is to fulfil its role as a Level 3 settlement as set out in the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028, it needs to provide community infrastructure in tandem with population growth.  New open space/recreation facilities should be provided in conjunction with new residential developments and there will be a requirement to provide new open spaces as part of these developments in line with the following criteria.

Type of Public Open Space

Area Required

Accessibility from residential units


Play lot/ pocket park – primarily for play for younger children

400m2 – 0.2ha.

Every home within 100m walking distance

All residential areas in excess of 50 units should incorporate a play lot provided at a rate of 4m2 per residential unit;

Required in all housing estates, overlooked with passive surveillance by as many houses as practicable;

Not to be located to the side or rear of dwellings;

Developers will be required to provide a minimum of two permanent play features.

Small Park

0.2ha. – 2.0ha.

Every residential unit within 400m walking distance

To accommodate a small playground with a minimum of 4 play features, kick around space, and passive recreation;

Overlooked with passive surveillance by as many houses as practicable;

Not to be located to side or rear of dwellings.

Local Park

2.0ha. – 20ha.

Residences to be within 1km

To accommodate a wide range of uses including playing pitches, passive recreation and biodiversity areas.

Table 4: Public Realm Open Space Provision in Residential Developments in Abbeyfeale

Objectives C 02 New Amenity Areas, Walkways and Cycleways:  It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Continue to facilitate the development of walkways and cycleways as indicated on the Amenity and Sustainable Transport Map (Appendix 1, Map 3) in co-operation with all sectors, subject to funding. Any proposed development adjacent to walkways must incorporate connecting pathways in their design. Developments shall be designed to overlook proposed walkways and shall link existing and proposed residential areas to each other, to amenity areas and to provide connections to the town centre.
  2. Encourage walking and cycling as more convenient, popular and safe methods of movement in Abbeyfeale, and facilitate the provision of an attractive and coherent network of off-road footpaths and cycle facilities. 
  3. Proposals for new Walkways/Cycleways, Greenways and Blueways will be subject to appropriate environmental assessments.  Any development which would have adverse effect on the integrity of European sites or cause a net loss of bio-diversity will not be permitted.


Objectives C 03 The Limerick Greenway:  It is an objective of the Council to:

a) Support the development of the Limerick Greenway and the development of Abbeyfeale as a Greenway Hub.

b) Provide a safe connection between the Limerick Greenway and the town centre, connecting with the heritage and cultural assets within the town.

c) Provide secure cycle parking infrastructure at appropriate locations as opportunities arise.

Objectives C 04 Parks, Open Space and Recreation:  It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Examine the feasibility of blue-way opportunities/potential along the River Feale and River Allaughan in Abbeyfeale, subject to appropriate ecological assessments.
  2. Protect existing open space by not permitting development, which encroaches on such open space, and protect semi-natural open space from inappropriate development.
  3. Facilitate/support the provision of allotments or community gardens at appropriate locations.
  4. Ensure new residential development provides high quality public open space and play-lots proportional to the number of residential units, having cognisance to accessibility, safety, overlooking permeability, place-making and requirements set out in Table 4 above.
  5. Support any upgrade maintenance works to the Páirc Cois Féile and the development of the Biodiversity Park on Bridge Street, subject to resources.