What is Heritage?

Our heritage is what we have inherited from the past, to value and enjoy in the present, and to preserve and pass on to future generations.

Our heritage comprises of:


our historical sites, buildings, monuments, objects in museums, artefacts and archives.


our waterways, landscapes, woodlands, bogs, uplands, native wildlife, insects, plants, trees, birds and animals .


our customs, sports, music, dance, folklore, crafts, skills, and traditions.

Our tangible, intangible and natural heritage and all the associated myths, legends, traditions, and memories provide us with a common language and insight that enables us to communicate on a deep level with each other and to express ourselves in a unique way to the outside world.

Heritage is important because ...

In helping shape our identity, our heritage becomes part of what we are. Our expression of this identity shows others what we value; it highlights our values and priorities.

Our heritage provides clues to our past and how our society has evolved. It helps us examine our history and traditions and enables us develop an awareness about ourselves. It helps us understand and explain why we are the way we are.

Heritage is a keystone of our culture that plays an important role in our politics, society, business and world view. It informs, influences and inspires public debate and policy both directly and indirectly.

Preserving (our) heritage is important because...

A local heritage project can be much more than just preserving and protecting artefacts of the past.

An important part of the Heritage Council’s work is to encourage local communities to take responsibility for and participate in the development and conservation of their heritage.

Projects to enhance local heritage have the potential to re-energise neglected areas and provide opportunities for local people to re-view, re-engage with and re-interpret their heritage.

Such projects help generate a greater sense of pride and belonging in the local area through increased participation...and sheer enjoyment!

Crucially, maintaining and enhancing our heritage provides a basis for local economic development and innovation in tourism, agriculture, entertainment, education and business generally.


Ireland’s heritage is world-renowned, the heart of the Irish tourism industry, attracting overseas visitors and bringing investment into local economies.

Cultural tourism and activity holidays on our natural landscapes and countryside continue to grow, outperforming all other tourism sectors.


The quality of our natural heritage is at the core of our quality agricultural produce. We rely on healthy ecosystems for nutrition and food security, clean air and fresh water.

Heritage is fragile, it delivers so much in terms of important human experience and enjoyment. It enriches our lives, allows us to define ourselves but needs constant protection and development.

It is essential that the significance of our heritage is acknowledged by government and reflected in appropriate and reformed structures and increased funding.

This will ensure that the best elements of our heritage will be passed on to our children and their children in turn.