Tullahought Heritage Day My very first Heritage Week 2022 engagement was to launch the Kilmackoliver loop walk in the beautiful village of Tullaghought in County Kilkenny. The community there have been the embodiment of the theme of this year's heritage week for many years: 'sustainable heritage and biodiversity'. The loop walk takes in nature, culture, social history, built heritage, archaeology and oral history. Before setting off on the walk, a short film describing the walk was played in the community hall. Creating a pond in the village was a visionary, practical action for nature and should be replicated everywhere. Interpretation signage guides walkers and visitors to the wider heritage of the Linguan Valley; surely the best kept secret in the south east. Thanks for the (very) warm welcome. This is a community that really understands how to celebrate and conserve our heritage .
Etched in Stone book launch
My second Heritage Week 2022 event was to launch Johnstown Historical Society's wonderful publication 'Etched in Stone'. The book details through excellent images and well researched descriptions, the history and origins of local stone carving, including the famed O'Tunneys. This is an important publication and a fantastic example of community engagement in local heritage. Míle buíochas Susan Garrett and colleagues for the painstaking work in photographing, documenting and researching the carvings featured in the book.
An afternoon on Drummin Bog to celebrate it’s wonderful age / The History of Colles Marble Company
Day 2 of Heritage Week 2022 and I dropped out to Drummin Bog project in Carlow. Making my way back to Kilkenny I called to see a fascinating exhibition curated by Donal McDonald.
The exhibition tells the story of the Colles Irish Marble Company of Highrath, Maddoxtown from 1730 to 1930. Well worth a trip out and Donal has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Colles family and the innovation they brought to stone and towards making Kilkenny synonymous with black marble.
Methodism - a methodical walk through over 200 years of Methodism in County Carlow Day 3 of Heritage Week 2022 and biblical weather on my trip to Carlow with Bob Dylan's 'Trying to get to heaven' as the in car soundtrack. Appropriate as I was going to a talk on the 200 year history of Methodism in the beautiful Methodist Church of Carlow town. Rev. Susan Gallagher gave a fascinating account of John Harding's visits to the area preaching in halls and houses. Many of the small, simple churches in Carlow, north Kilkenny and east Wicklow are repurposed as houses, outhouses, a museum and a library. Carlow Methodist community is still vibrant, active in supporting refugees and in distributing food parcels to families. A really wonderful event and I got some free windfall apples from the churchyard. Dylan was back on the radio when I turned the ignition, 'Gotta Serve Somebody'.
Eels of the River Nore Day #4 of Heritage Week 2022 and we were keeping it eel on the River Nore in Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny. We joined Rob Cruikshanks of Inland Fisheries Ireland for a fascinating talk about a fascinating fish and one we still have so much to learn about. The conversation continued over tea and delicious scones in the Blackberry cafe afterwards, along with a heated debate on strawberry vs raspberry jam on scones. Raspberry all the way....
Lace Faoin Aer Day #5 of Heritage Week 2022 with a group I absolutely love: Borris Lacemakers. Their exhibition for Heritage Week in Borris House was extra special. They even had a piece crafted of the cell structure of Sphagnum moss from the nearby Drummin bog. The tradition of lace making here goes back to famine times when it was established as a not for profit famine industry by the Kavanagh family of Borris House. It's really important to keep this craft alive. An added treat was a tour of Borris House, apple tart and cream on the lawn provided by Kilkenny Archeological Society who were visiting the great house also.
Kilkenny Castle Rose Garden Tour / St Patrick's Brass and Reed Band's 140th anniversary Day #6 of Heritage Week 2022 started with a talk in the Rose Garden in Kilkenny Castle on the subject of.... the rose garden! Our OPW guide, Marie O'Driscoll, gave a really interesting account of the development of the grounds and gardens around the castle from the 12th century to present times. Later I went to see another local heritage asset; St Patrick's Brass and Reed Band as they celebrated their 140th anniversary. A wonderful night of music in St Patrick's Church.
'Freshford Life in Pictures' book launch / Medieval Tile Making in Butler Gallery Day #7 of Heritage Week 2022 and to St Lachtain's Church in Freshford for the launch of Mike Cormack's village and parish history. The book is a real labour of love, impeccably researched, with well designed maps by John O'Shea and photographs by Michael Brophy (with contributions from so many in the village). It's also an invaluable resource for the community, a snapshot in time and important for archiving. I took a walk around the village before the event and it was looking really beautiful in the late summer sunshine. Also on my Heritage Week 2022 travels today, I dropped in on the medieval tile making workshop in Butler Gallery. It looked like lots of fun....
Official opening of East Waterford Beekeepers’ Association’s Apiary Day #8 of Heritage Week 2022 and a real treat to formally open the East Waterford Beekeepers Association's new apiary in Dunhill Ecopark. The apiary will act as a training space for people who want to learn the skills of beekeeping. In my address I spoke of our work in government on biodiversity, nature restoration, biodiversity officers and the role of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. My colleague Grace O'Sullivan MEP cut the cake and talked of her great work for nature in the European Parliament. Later I visited a nearby dairy farm with Dr Rory Harrington who has worked in this part of Waterford for many years developing Integrated Constructed Wetlands as a nature based solution to water quality. The wetland on our farm visit is working really well and teaming with wildlife; co-benefits for nature, water and climate.
Woodstown Viking Site Craft Village and Viking Re-Enactment Day #9 and the end of a hugely successful Heritage Week 2022 and a Viking festival near the internationally important Woodstown Viking site in Waterford. We received a briefing from archaeologist James Eoghan (TII), Neil Jackman (Alberta Heritage) and Bernie Guest (Heritage Officer, Waterford City and Co Council) on the conservation management plan for the site and how it could evolve as an inclusive visitor site over time. Kitty and Stephen enjoyed the battle reenactment. Comhgairdeas Déise Medieval for putting together such a brilliant programme.
It has been an amazing Heritage Week and as Heritage Minister, it was just so inspiring to see the range and quality of events all over the country. I got to as many as I could and enjoyed it all and learned so much. Míle buíochas; organisers, our heritage officer network, the Heritage Council and all who attended events and took an interest in or were inspired by our rich cultural, natural and built heritage. I pay tribute also to all of the heritage professionals who are now seeing their work valued like never before through Heritage Ireland 2030 and unprecedented Government support; reflecting the value we all place on our built and natural environment and on inclusive cultural appreciation.
Beimíd ar ais le cheile arís an bliain seo chugainn.