40 things to do in Heritage Week

Watch whales, archive your attic, make a basket or live like a monk. National Heritage Week is packed with activities and here’s just a taster. . .


The Heritage Council is encouraging everyone to “Discover the Past and Build the Future”, through over 1,500 events during this year’s National Heritage Week from August 17-25. Here we offer you some suggestions from their comprehensive guide on heritageweek.ie.

1 Discover your household heritage: The mysterious Huntington Castle and Gardens in Clonegal, Co Carlow hosts a vintage summer fair with antiques, books, clothes and crockery on Sunday, August 25th from noon to 6pm. Admission adults/children €5/€2.50 (gardens and fair) €8/€4 (gardens, fair and castle tour). Tel: 086-0282266, huntingtoncastle.com

2 View Napoleonic batteries in Shannon estuary: Weather-permitting, take a ferry to Scattery Island from Kilrush, Co Clare on Wednesday, August 21st at 2pm to learn about the early 19th century towers built by the British war department in defence against potential French invasion. Tel: 065-6829100

3 Explore our flora and fauna: Join beach researcher, Carmel T Madigan on her guided walk and talk about Ross Beach, starting from Ross Car Park, Loophead, Co Clare on Monday, August 19th at 11am. Or go on a walk, specifically designed for wheelchair access and those with limited mobility, along Flaggy Shore in Co Clare, starting from New Quay School on Wednesday, August 21st at 11am. See burrenbeo.com

4 Be by the seaside: Celebrate the history of Kilkee, Co Clare as a Victorian seaside resort with re-enactments, fancy dress, games and heritage walks on Wednesday, August 21st, from noon to 8pm. See thelongwayround.ie

5 Hunt for butterflies: Identify butterflies on one of several fun hunts, which take place in the following places: Burren National Park on Sunday, August 25th at 2pm (065-6827693, burrennationalpark.ie); in Ballycroy National Park in Co Mayo on Thursday, August 22nd at 1.30pm (ballycroynationalpark.ie); and in the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, Ardcavan Lane, North Slob, Wexford on Sunday, August 18th at 2.30pm (wexfordwildfowlreserve.ie).

6 Peek at Cork’s historic homes: Thirty buildings from medieval to military, civic to commercial and educational to ecclesiastical open their doors for the Cork City Heritage Open Day on Saturday, August 17th, 10am-5pm. Tel: 021-4924018, corkheritageopenday.ie

7 Take a river walk: Learn about otters living in Cork city and take a walk with the Irish Wildlife Trust along the river Lee, starting from Cork Vision Centre, North Main Street, Cork on Saturday, August 24th at 4pm. See iwt.ie

8 Visit gate lodges: Take self-guided tours of historic gate lodges around the country such as the restored 19th century gate lodge at Anne’s Grove, Castletownroche, Co Cork; the Salterbridge gate lodge in Cappoquin, Co Waterford or the Gate House and the Round House on Castletown Estate, Celbridge, Co Kildare on Sunday, August 25th, 10am-4pm. See irishlandmark.com

9 Tour lighthouses: Take a self-guided tour of lightkeeper’s houses at the Galley Head, Clonakilty, Co Cork and Loop Head, Co Clare or the Wicklow Head Lighthouse on Dunbar Head, Wicklow on Sunday, August 25th, 10am-4pm. See irishlandmark.com

10 Follow in pilgrim’s footsteps: Join a guided contemplative walk of 32km on August 17th and 18th from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra following the 6th century journey of St Finbarr. The walks start at 9am each day. Advanced booking essential. Tel: 086-1735134 westcorkwalking.com

11 Wander streets of Kinsale: Join award-winning tour guide, Dermot Ryan on heritage walks, starting from Kinsale tourist office, Pier Road daily from Saturday, August 17th to Sunday, August 25th at 10.30am and 3pm. See kinsaleheritage.com

12 Watch whales: Join the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for a guided land-based whale watch at the Galley Head Lighthouse in Clonakilty, Co Cork; Malin Head, Malin Signal Tower, Co Donegal; Hook Head Lighthouse, Co Wexford and Bloody Bridge, Co Down on Sunday, August 18th at 2pm. Bring binoculars and rain gear. See iwdg.ie

13 Archive your attic: Donegal County Archives at the Three Rivers Centre, Lifford, Co Donegal invite you to donate or loan photos, posters, letters and documents of significance to Donegal’s history and culture on Thursday, August 22nd, 10.30am-3.30pm. See donegalcoco.ie/archives

14 Frequent a fair: Check out the craft fair, country markets and children’s activities at the Glebe House and Gallery Fair Day in Churchhill, Co Donegal on Sunday, August 18th. Activities run from noon to 5pm. Tel: 074-9137071

15 Listen to chamber music: Pop into the newly restored Lady’s Chapel in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin for free recitals from Monday to Friday at 1.15pm. There are also organ recitals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30pm and a talk on restoration of the 13th century chapel by architect John Beauchamp on Monday at 7.30pm. See stpatrickscathedral.ie

16 Take a walk in the park: Discover the hidden history of Phoenix Park on a free guided walk around its monuments, starting from the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on Wednesday, August 21st at noon. See phoenixpark.ie/visitorcentre

17 Play in Dublin Castle: Join in some as yet unspecified contemporary games in an as yet unspecified meeting point in Dublin Castle on Monday at 6pm. Also free workshop for children on Tuesday at 6pm and talks on conservation, curators and contemporary art collections throughout the week. Advanced booking essential. Tel: 01-6458812

18 Meet in Merrion Square: A rare chance to visit houses not usually open to the public on this Merrion Square Open Day on Saturday, August 24th from 10am-5pm. Tel: 01-6633040 merrionsquare.ie

19 Explore Tailor’s Hall: James Nix from An Taisce will give free tours and chats about the history of this early Georgian Guild Hall in Back Lane, Dublin 8 from Monday to Friday at 2.30pm each day. See antaisce.org

20 Experience science: Find out how science works at these costumed re-enactment of Robert Boyle’s pioneering experiments at the magnificent Casino at Marino, Dublin on Thursday, August 22nd at 6.30pm (for adults) and on Saturday, August 24th at 1pm (for children aged 10 and over). Six to ten year olds can bring their picnics and costumes for the Mouse Master’s Tea party at the Casino on Saturday, August 24th at 2pm. Booking essential. Tel: 01-8331618

21 Make a kite: Children can discover Georgian children’s crafts and games and try their hand at making kites and peg people in Farmleigh House on Sunday, August 18th at 2pm. Meanwhile adults can join an art history tour of the paintings, sculptures and textiles at Farmleigh House on Wednesday, August 21st at 3pm. Admission free. Booking essential. Tel: 01-8155963

22 Tour Áras an Uachtaráin: Children can bring one adult along with them on this children’s tour of the President’s house, which includes seeing the Garda horses and working dogs on Saturday, August 24th at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Advanced booking essential. Tel: 01-8155963

23 Watch Cruinniú na mBád: Join in the celebration of our maritime heritage at the Galway Hooker Festival with racing of púcáns, gleotoigs and hookers from Connemara to Kinvara on Saturday and Sunday, August 17th and 18th from 9am-9pm. See kinvara.com/cruinniu

24 Walk in walled gardens: Learn about heritage plants in the beautiful Victorian walled gardens at Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co Galway. Take a guided tour of the abbey itself and listen to choirs in the Gothic church from Saturday, August 17th to Sunday, August 25th. Children 10 and under go free. Tel: 095-52001, kylemoreabbeytourism.ie

25 See craftspeople at work: See how baskets are woven (Monday, August 19th 1pm-4pm); how lace and crochet are made (Tuesday, August 20th 10am-4pm); how wool is spun into yarn and how felt is made (Sunday, August 25th 10am-4pm) at Fisheries Watchtower, Wolfe Tone Bridge, Galway. Tel: 091-564946, galwaycivictrust.ie

26 Nurture nature: Join free guided nature walks to explore biodiversity integrated with organic food production at Gortbrack Organic Farm, Ballyseedy, Tralee, Co Kerry on Saturday, August 24th 11am-1.30pm. Tel: 066-7137042, gortbrackorganicfarm.com

27 Mingle with the medievalists: Castledermot in Co Kildare will be transformed into a medieval village with military re-enactments, archery, children’s combat school and heritage tours on Saturday, August 17th from noon-6pm. Tel: 087-7990867

28 Celebrate early photography: View one of the largest collections of early photographs by a female photographer at Jane W Shackleton’s Ireland exhibition in the Art Gallery of the Public Library, Mountmellick, Co Laois until August 31st. Chris Corlett, author of Jane W Shackleton’s Ireland (Collins Press, 2012) will speak about her work on Monday, August 19th at 7.30pm in Mountmellick Arts Centre, Sarsfield Street. Admission €5. Tel: 057-8644572

29 Picnic on a bog: Turf cutters, local historians and railway enthusiasts will tell boggy tales on while participants picnic on the bog at Abbeyleix, Co Laois on Saturday, August 24th. See abbeyleixbog.ie for exact times and locations.

30 Share skills: Beer brewing, bread making, bee-keeping and vegetable growing skills will be shared at this event organsed by Laois Leaf, a transition hub helping communities design a lower carbon future. Go along to the Heritage House and Community Allotments in Abbeyleix on Saturday, August 17th and Friday, August 23rd, 2pm-4pm.See laoisleaf.com

31 Get on your bike: Take a 20km heritage trail by electric bike from Leitrim village to Kedue, taking in holy wells, abbeys and tombs, on Sunday, August 18th at 10am. Booking essential. See electricbiketrails.com

32 Take a tractor ride: A chance to see this remarkable collection of vintage vehicles at this annual tractor run in various locations in Co Longford on Sunday, August 18th noon to 5pm. See longfordvintageclub.com

33 Paint a tile: Children and adults can paint a replica tile, inspired by the patterns in Old Mellifont Abbey, Tullyallen, Co Louth on Sunday, August 25th 10am-5pm. Tel: 041-9826459

34 Travel to Trim: Try out some of the medieval themed arts and crafts and meet some knights at the Trim Walled Town Festival in Trim, Co Meath on Sunday, August 18th, from 2pm-5pm. Tel: 086-8053293

35 Cavort in Charleville Castle: Take a free guided tour of castle rooms to see conservation work and learn about the castle ghosts; have a picnic in the grounds amongst the magnificent trees in this estate just outside Tullamore, Co Offaly on Saturday, August 24th from 1pm-5pm. See charlevillecastle.com

36 Enjoy harp music: Castlecoote House in Co Roscommon hosts a celebration of harp music by Turlough O’Carolan, Thomas Moore and Percy French on Sunday, August 18th at 3pm. €5 admission includes tours of house and grounds. Tel: 0906-663794 castlecootehouse.com

37 Talk about trees: The John F Kennedy Arboretum in New Ross, Co Wexford is the apt location for this tree symposium on Sunday, August 18th at 3pm; Free guided walks through the JFK park August 20-22nd at 3pm. Tel: 051-388171

38 Gather in Greystones: Take a guided architectural and historical tour of the Burnaby Estate with Irish Times journalist and Greystones resident, Peter Murtagh on Saturday and Sunday, August 24th and 25th at 2.30pm, starting in the Burnaby Park. Find out about the lives of Col Fred Burnaby and his wife Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed at Tales from the Burnaby in the Greystones Golf Club on Saturday, August 24th at 8pm. View Hawkins-Whitshed’s late 19th century and early 20th century photographs in shop window displays of Greystones, Co Wicklow on Saturday/Sunday August 24/25th. See theburnaby.com

39 Live like a monk: Children can discover the daily duties of monks who followed St Carthage to Lismore in Co Waterford. The activities – including calligraphy and making ink – at the Lismore Heritage Centre on Saturday, August 17th at 11am are free but booking is essential. Tel: 058-54975, discoverlismore.com

40 Feast on folklore: The restored medieval banqueting hall built by the Earls of Desmond in the 1400s is the stunning venue for a free uilleann pipe recital by renowned Irish piper, Mikie Smyth on Saturday, August 24th at 4pm. The Desmond Hall in the Square, Newcastle West, Co Limerick will echo the sounds of traditional songs, poetry and storytelling from the West Limerick Singing Club on Sunday, August 25th at 4pm. Tel: 069-77408

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