RDS honour for Ballyhoura leader

Carmel Fox with her RDS Honorary Life Membership award. Photo:Shane O'Neill

BALLYHOURA Development chief executive Carmel Fox was made an Honorary Life Member of the RDS this week for her contribution to rural Ireland.

She was described at last week’s awards ceremony in Dublin as one of the most influential and innovative drivers of rural development in the country over the past 30 years.


In her time as chief executive of Ballyhoura Development, the East Limerick/ North Cork border has become an internationally recognised rural tourism destination, with an income of €45 million a year from tourism, supporting 1,650 jobs.

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 since 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 art-forms.

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. She 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.

“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,” said Chief Executive of the RDS, Michael Duffy.

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).