The challenges and opportunities for rural Ireland are being examined at a conference in Athlone.

Irish Rural Link is hosting the event to mark 30 years in operation.

The organisation has a membership of nearly 600 rural community groups across the country.

Irish Rural Link said that many challenges from the past remain, with the continuing closure of essential rural services, declining and ageing populations and migration of young people to work in larger urban areas.

However, it said positive changes in recent years like the rise in remote working, the establishment of digital hubs and high-speed broadband can make rural areas an attractive place for people to live and work.

Topics like the environmental challenge, transport, rural development and government policies will be discussed.

CEO of Irish Rural Link Seamus Boland said the organisation sees "many opportunities for Rural Ireland and see it at the forefront of providing many of the solutions as we address climate change, higher food and energy costs, transition to a greener and more digitalised society as well as providing a greater sense of well-being for people and communities".