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What is SMARTlab Skelligs?

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

Edge of Ireland or Centre of a Global Network


SMARTlab Skelligs is part of the SMARTlab Global network of connected scholars and practitioners.

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Since 2013, there have been developments in process to build a research ecosystem on the Iveragh Peninsula, an initiative supported by a local philanthropic organisation, Living Iveragh.

Living Iveragh is a DAC, a designated activity company, whose mission is to address the problem of rural depopulation and lack of sustainable well paid employment. They promoting southwest Iveragh as a place of Research, Learning and Enterprise in an outstanding landscape, believing in collaboration and cooperation. Their voluntary board of directors have extensive experience in research, education, and business, and are all from or based on the

Iveragh Peninsula. This supports their promotion of the use of ecological systems design thinking as a learning methodology and are aligned with the NAISC Diaspora network.


From Toronto to The Iveragh Ballroom

In 2015, members of Living Iveragh initiated the Institute Without Boundaries (IWB), students, faculty and staff, traveling to the Iveragh Peninsula, to conduct research for the Interstitial Zones project, County Kerry. The project took place in the third year of a five-year research trajectory set by the IwB to explore Regional Ecologies, an approach that emphasises the study of the regional scale of cities and their surrounding areas (IWB, 2015). Beginning with a five-day charrette called “Imagining Iveragh” was aimed at promoting sustainable economic development in the County Kerry region of Ireland. Four charrette teams were asked to tackle the four Interstitial Zones project themes -

Each charrette team was given a brief that provided a research problem and portfolio, including a specific geographical site or a series of related sites, where the team was asked to base their design project. The brief included site assets and considerations, researched by the IwB students and County Kerry stakeholders. Charrette teams were asked to create implementable ideas that can be readily applied in the Iveragh Peninsula and Kerry towards sustainable economic development and job creation. In February 2016, the IwB hosted its annual International Charrette. The theme of the charrette, “Balancing Continuity & Change”, was drawn from the students’ work on the Interstitial Zones project. The Balancing Continuity & Change Charrette built on the IwB’s work on this project, particularly the results of the Imagining Iveragh Charrette, which the IwB students conducted in Ireland in November 2015.


In 2017, Dr Anita McKeown, FRSA, FIPM, was invited by Living Iveragh to explore the development of some of the key implementable ideas, in particular the Muinín project and building and supporting a research ecology. The work was built on by SMARTlab Skelligs in the following ways

  • Building a research ecology / centre of excellence including teacher training @the Iveragh Ballroom with Living Iveragh, funded by the RRDF.

  • Brought €400+k into region in 2 years and contributed to the employment of 10 people 8 of which are locally-based

  • Supporting 4 PhD students - one of which is the Kerry Biosphere officer

  • Initiated Virtual Reality, AV Media and Rapid Prototyping / 3D printing training

  • Developing research partnership with UCD School of Irish Celtic Studies and Folklore, aligning to Gaeltacht Service Town

What's Next for SMARTlab Skelligs

We are continuing to grow our local research ecology within our focus of place-based STEAM education and symbiotic Creative Placemaking, working with our global network and

our international partners e.g. Creative Placemaking Communities as their Irish Education partner. We have also started Future Focus21c - an educational female-led start-up focusing on providing and promoting 21st-century learning experiences that enable content and skills development that can be transferred to the real world. We are always interested in collaboration and if you are working in aligned areas and that's something that interests you - please get in touch.


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