Heritage Week 2023 launches with host of unique events celebrating our Living Heritage

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A colourful range of events and projects celebrating all aspects of our heritage will take place across the country

The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, has today launched National Heritage Week 2023, which takes place nationwide from Saturday 12th to Sunday 20th August. A colourful range of events and projects celebrating all aspects of our heritage will take place across the country as communities, families, holiday makers and people of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to get out and explore their heritage.

Over 1,000 FREE events and projects have already been registered with that figure expected to reach close to 2,000 before the festivities kick off. Galleries, gardens, historic houses, barnyards and studios will play host to events covering everything from architecture to archaeology, film to foraging, philosophy to genealogy and music to storytelling. Walks, talks and workshops will satisfy the heritage curious among us who can search for events taking place in their area either by county or by topic from here.

The theme for National Heritage Week this year is ‘Living Heritage’ which is defined as the practices, knowledge and skills that have been passed from one generation to the next, and are still in use today. As such, many events and projects will focus on the keeping alive of these crafts and skills, and this year’s launch took place at the workshop of Tom McDonnell and James Collins, two of the last remaining men practicing the dying trade of Traveller tinsmithing.

Some event highlights this year include; Discover Blacksmithing in Limerick where attendees can immerse themselves in a free four-day course and learn the skills of blacksmithing; ‘Genealogy One To One’ in Kilkenny where people can book a private session with a genealogy expert to help unravel their family history; a screening in Donegal of the mesmerising film ‘It’s a Fine Thing to Sing’ featuring Ian Lynch (Lankum), Ye Vagabonds and The Henry Girls arranging and singing six songs from Clonmany and Buncrana singers; Learn how to create a willow basket in Co.Cork in a fun family friendly workshop; and ‘The Fair of Muff’ event in Cavan will reenact the ancient Celtic festival where visitors can try their hand at fair games like the old “Penny Toss” and “Skittles”.

Anybody interested in hosting an event or a digital project can register it up to the beginning of National Heritage Week on August 12th and even during the week itself right up until the final day on Sunday August 20th. They can do so via the Organisers’ Portal on www.heritageweek.ie.

Speaking at the launch in Tom McDonnell and James Collins’ tinsmithing workshop, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said:

“With thousands of free events all over the country, Heritage Week is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the places, traditions, crafts and skills that have woven their way through the fabric of Irish society. I’d like to commend the hundreds of people, community groups and organisations across Ireland who, every year, give freely of their own time to host events and share their interest in heritage with the public and with the next generation of heritage lovers and tradition keepers. It is thanks to their efforts that the understanding and love of our heritage is kept alive, and passed on to the next generation.”

CEO of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan said:

“Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all torch holders of our heritage in one way or another and this year’s theme of Living Heritage provides an opportunity to explore this idea further. Anybody who has learned a skill from a family member, who has repeated a story told to them by an ancestor, or even anybody who has played GAA, has played a part in preserving our cultural heritage. Many of the events registered this year will highlight how valuable these traditions are and how richly they contribute to our understanding of who we are as a people.”

On the back of its collaboration through the National Lottery Good Causes Awards, the Heritage Council is welcoming a new partnership with the National Lottery for National Heritage Week 2023. Speaking for the first time as partners at the launch, Jennifer Crowe, Head of Corporate Affairs at the National Lottery said:

"The National Lottery is thrilled to partner with The Heritage Council for this year's Heritage Week 2023 to further support our natural, built, and intangible heritage. The National Lottery, through its Good Causes program, supports and makes a difference to thousands of charity and voluntary groups and organisations all over Ireland, including hundreds of heritage groups and projects who receive funding through The Heritage Council each year. This week of activities is a great opportunity for us to explore our traditions, skills and culture, to tell stories, and pass traditions from generation to generation as well as showcasing our natural heritage."

Long-time partners Fáilte Ireland has come on board again as a partner in 2023. Mary Stack, Head of Attractions at Fáilte Ireland said:

“Ireland’s rich culture and heritage is central to our tourism offering so Fáilte Ireland is pleased to once again support National Heritage Week. By bringing both our living heritage and heritage sites to life through demonstrations, music, re-enactments, tours and talks, National Heritage Week 2023 will create truly memorable experiences for domestic tourists and locals alike across the country.”

The National Lottery and Fáilte Ireland are joined by the Office of Public Works (OPW), the Irish Landmark Trust, and the Local Authority Water Programme as partners of National Heritage Week 2023. At county level, National Heritage Week is co-ordinated and supported by local authority heritage officers, their colleagues and with numerous local heritage groups and organisations.

Coordinated by the Heritage Council since 2005, National Heritage Week has become one of Ireland’s largest cultural events, celebrating Ireland's built, natural and cultural heritage and aiming to generate awareness, appreciation and preservation of our wonderful resources.