People ‘more engaged with natural heritage’ since Covid-19 restrictions

National Heritage Week will take place from August 15th to 23rd

Rós Nic Domhnaill and Samuel Clancy, both 11 and students in Gaelscoil Inse Chór, Dublin pictured at the launch of National Heritage Week 2020 at the Pearse Museum, St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Rós Nic Domhnaill and Samuel Clancy, both 11 and students in Gaelscoil Inse Chór, Dublin pictured at the launch of National Heritage Week 2020 at the Pearse Museum, St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

People are much more engaged with natural heritage since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, the chief executive of the Heritage Council has said.

Virginia Teehan said the council has noticed a “much deeper engagement in heritage” across all age groups over recent months.

Ms Teehan was speaking following the unveiling of National Heritage Week at the Pearse Museum in St Enda’s Park, south Dublin.

Local heritage groups, families and communities are being invited to develop projects around the theme of heritage and education for this year’s Heritage Week between August 15th and 23rd.

“We’ve noticed since the restrictions have been put in place people are much more engaged with heritage, they’re more aware of their natural heritage that surrounds them, just in their gardens or even in their own houses or in the streetscapes,” Ms Teehan told The Irish Times.

The Burren, where cattle are brought in the winter to graze on the warm, dry stony limestone terraces, a practice known as winterage, which was established in the Neolithic era (which lasted from 4,000BC to 2,500BC in Ireland). Photograph: Getty Images
The Burren, Co Clare. File photograph: Getty Images

“People are more aware of butterflies and bees and the natural heritage around them but also in the histories of their own place and their families because they have the opportunity maybe to engage with one another in a way that wasn’t the case previously – people were so busy.”

Ms Teehan said although there is “a huge curiosity” amongst children in particular about natural heritage, interest has grown across “all age categories”.

The Clapper Bridge near Killeen on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Clapper Bridge near Killeen on the Wild Atlantic Way

“People are more reflective about where they come from and what constitutes their sense of themselves as individuals and sense of identity as a society,” Ms Teehan added.

“I think that social contract we have with society is more prominent now than it was maybe six months ago as well as understanding the role of identity and Irish identities. These are really current questions now.”

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said the project dimension of this year’s Heritage Week provides an opportunity “to connect and reconnect with community and family by phone, letters, emails or in other social-distanced ways, and particularly across generations”.

“We are particularly keen to see projects being developed that have strong inter-generational participation; perhaps, where an older person teaches a child skills from their childhood, “ she said.

Altamont Gardens, Co Carlow.

“Younger people, particularly teens and young adults, could play a big role in showcasing projects in digital formats.”

Expressions of interest and project ideas should be submitted to HeritageWeek.ie and then completed by August 4th. The most engaging projects will be showcased online during Heritage Week.