Episode 11- Ireland’s Irish Walled Towns Network

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Irish towns – steeped in history and with stories going back centuries - are embedded in the Irish folk memory. In order to preserve this vital part of our ancient past, the Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN) was established by the Heritage Council in 2005. It exists to help these urban centres become better places to live, work and visit.

A walled town is a town that had walls and features like gates, towers, and earthen ditches built around it, to defend the occupants, and control the flow of people and revenue in and out of the town. They were also seen as status symbols reflecting wealth and influence.While some walled towns date back to the Viking period, the majority date from the Anglo-Norman / medieval period. However, there are some examples of towns that were walled in the 1600s. Towns walls and their associated features are now recognised as National Monuments. Most walled towns have only sections of the walls remaining, however, the circuit of the walls usually mark and define the historic core of the town.

In today’s podcast, Ian Doyle, Head of Conservation with The Heritage Council, explains the importance of the scheme, and why walled towns remain an integral part of Irish life to this day. He also discusses IWTN grants for interpretation and events projects, which support initiatives that help make the towns better places to live. They also help raise awareness about the important heritage of the town, which leads to increased tourism and pride of place. Numerous interpretation and conservation projects that the IWTN has supported have gone on to win awards like Chambers Ireland, and Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) Community and Council awards.

Meanwhile, Róisín Burke, Project Manager of the IWTN, gives an overview of the all-island organisation, with members from north and south of the border.

And Sarah McCutcheon, Executive Archaeologist with Limerick City and County Council, and Vice-Chair of the IWTN Committee, discusses the achievements to date in Kilmallock and Limerick City.

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