University of Galway

Established in 1845, University of Galway is one of the top 2% of universities in the world. We are in the top 50 universities globally for sustainable development in line with the United Nations SDGs. We are a bilingual university, comprised of four colleges, 18 schools and five research institutes, with more than 19,000 students, including around 3,000 international students. We are the only university in Ireland designated a Government of Ireland Sustainable Development Champion. We have been accredited with an Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award, and 11 out of our 18 schools hold individual Athena SWAN Awards. We have more than 2,500 staff, and research collaborations with 4,675 international institutions in 137 countries. We have 110,000 alumni and 98% of graduates are in employment or further study within six months.


The University of Galway FLIARA Team, are situated within the Rural Studies Centre, in the Discipline of Geography, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies. The Centre brings together researchers exploring rural issues across economic, social, cultural and environmental domains. Personnel within the Rural Studies Centre work to understand the contemporary, diverse and changing countryside; build an evidence base to influence policy and support sustainable rural development.  In recent years, research within the cluster has focused on a range of rural issues such as female entrepreneurship, farm succession, rural innovation, globalisation, migration, natural resource governance, rural tourism, territorial cohesion, agricultural innovation and the cultural economy.  Drawing on all this experience, the centre members have been highly successful in obtaining national and international research funding from EU Framework 7 projects right through to the current Horizon Europe fund.  


Associate Professor Maura Farrell is the Coordinator of the FLIARA project at the University of Galway and a full-time lecturer in the Discipline of Geography.   Maura’s research interests include rural and agricultural geography, processes of social, cultural and economic change for rural inhabitants and rural migration.  Maura is also Principal Investigator for the University of Galway on the Horizon Europe PREMIERE project and previously on the Horizon 2020 RURALIZATION Project. Maura was the Coordinator of the National Rural Network project for the University of Galway for over six years, while also being extremely active both inside and outside university life. She has been appointed to committees and organisations both nationally and internationally, such as the national-level Action Plan for Rural Development Monitoring Committee and the European level evaluation and reflection group for the LEADER Programme.

Louise Weir is an Associate Researcher and the lead Project Manager of the FLIARA project. Louise is also part of the Galway research team working on the Horizon Europe Project, PREMIERE. She has a particular specialism in spatial planning and a research focus in rural planning, rural transport, social networks analysis and rural regeneration. Research on previous European projects, BuSk-Building Shared Knowledge Capital to support natural resource governance in the Northern Periphery and the Horizon 2020 project RURALIZATION provided the stepping stone to Project Manager and Associate Researcher on FLIARA.

Dr Aisling Murtagh is a postdoctoral researcher on the FLIARA project. She has worked on a number of rural development related national and European research projects in areas such as rural youth, cultural and creative industries, short food supply chains and food cooperatives. Before joining the FLIARA project she worked as Postdoctoral Researcher for four years on the Horizon 2020 project, RURALIZATION, with a specific focus on rural regeneration and generational renewal. Prior to this she worked as a Research and Development Officer with the National Rural Network where her work particularly focused on the LEADER programme.

Dr Marie Mahon is the Lecturer in the Discipline of Geography. Marie’s research interests include civic engagement and governance; urban-rural development; place-based identity; governance of spatial planning; and spatial justice and participatory democracy. She is the Principal Investigator for the Horizon 2020 IMAJINE Project at University of Galway.

Dr John McDonagh is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Geography. John’s research interests include agricultural restructuring; the multifunctional countryside; and the broader challenges of rural sustainability. He is the Principal Investigator for the BUSK project (Building Shared Knowledge Capital) funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.

Dr Therese Conway is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Geography with research interests including rural tourism, rural space and participatory action research. Therese has positioned her research agenda with a focus on the concepts of networks and networking, and in particular their role in development, including studies that engage with their role in tourism, ecotourism, community development (communities of practice) and rural development.

Dr Shane Conway is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the field of rural and agricultural geography, with a particular focus on generational renewal in agriculture, the human side of farming, smart villages and rural sustainability. He is currently the Galway Project Manager for the new Horizon Europe Project, PREMIERE. He previously worked as a member of the National Rural Network research team at the University of Galway; and is leading Ireland’s participation in the International FARMTRANSFERS Project.

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