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National Heritage Week Award Winners 2021

From walking tours to water sampling, from art to otters, National Heritage Week is a countrywide celebration of our glorious natural, built and cultural heritage

Heritage Sharing

Project: Daughters of Dún Iascaigh historical walking tour, Co Tipperary
Organiser: Cahir Women's History Group
About: The Daughters of Dún Iascaigh celebrated the contribution made by women to Cahir over the centuries through the installation of 24 temporary plaques and the development of a new walking tour. The women featured were taken from the book, Daughters of Dún Iascaigh – A Light on the History of Cahir Women.

Featuring the work of artist and Cahir native Alice Maher, the plaques commemorate a diverse group of trailblazers, including Tipperary’s first female councillor, a rebel nun, a socialist, a war-time nurse, a suffragette, a war victim, a single mother, an actress and an artist.

Badamair, the first lady of Cahir; the women of the Famine; ordinary mothers who struggled to bring up their children; unmarried pregnant women sent to Mother and Baby Homes; activists in the Land League; Cumann na mBan and the Anti-Conscription Movement were also included.



Project: Pavee Roads Home
Organiser: Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, Dublin City
About: Pavee Roads Home is an exploration of Traveller culture and heritage told through the lens of history and geography. It charts three Traveller families and their journey through the generations from the West of Ireland to Dublin City. It presents their family history through family trees and online StoryMaps. It allows everyone to see old Traveller camps and hear what life was like on the road for Traveller families. The family trees reveal how Traveller generations contributed to life in Ireland. It was developed by Pavee Point's Men's Health team, as a way of promoting a positive sense of identity and culture.

Project: Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, Cork City
Organiser: Ruti Lachs
About: Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, a short video produced by Ruti Lachs, includes stories and memories from Jewish people around the world who grew up in Cork City, interspersed with photographs and music from Jewish Cork past and present.The project came about as a result of the huge response to a previous Heritage Week project called Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk.

Heritage for All Ages


Project: A Virtual Saunter Down Ballyshannon's Historic Mall, Co Donegal
Organiser: Ballyshannon Regeneration Group
About: A Virtual Saunter Down Ballyshannon's Historic Mall is an audiovisual record of buildings on The Mall in Ballyshannon that are either historically, economically, socially or culturally significant. Creating the project involved reading historic documents, letters and diaries, plus the books of local historian Anthony Begley. It also involved talking with older residents, inspecting old photographs and online searches.

The result provides a graphic picture of the thriving businesses of days gone by, as well as the lives of the people who owned and worked in them. The group gained access to diaries, letters, songs and verses of the Allingham family, including poet William and his artist wife, Helen, who lived on The Mall in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The project shares stories of love, loss, emigration, fashion and fairies, as well as lively conversation between two main “characters” as they saunter along The Mall.

Project: The Way We Were, Co Meath
Organiser: Third Age Foundation 
About: The Way We Were is an intergenerational living history project where older volunteers explain the uses and significance of a collection of artefacts such as manual and electronic typewriters, an early blow torch, welding equipment, tilly lamps, a spinning wheel, a dial telephone, bellows and various cooking utensils, plus a washboard and butter churn.


Project: Grandson-Grandfather interview about a Hugh Moore stained-glass window, Co Louth
Organiser: Carlingford Lough Heritage Trust
About: This Co Louth project involves an interview between 10-year-old Daniel Bothwell and his grandfather, Joe Bothwell, in the Holy Trinity Church. The church, which is where Carlingford Heritage Centre is based, has a beautiful stained-glass window. Several decades ago a wild storm shattered the window. Joe played a key role in ensuring it was restored. The video acts as a reminder of the important role that older family members can play in passing down stories and knowledge to younger generations.

Heritage Newcomers

Project: Kells Illuminations, Co Meath
Organiser: Colmcille 1500
About: Kells Illuminations highlighted the rich physical heritage embedded in the streets of the town, where visitors and residents can forget, or be unaware, that they are walking in the footsteps of Medieval monks. Fittingly in 2021, the 1500th anniversary of St. Colmcille's birth, Kells Illuminations brought the town's Columban Medieval heritage to new life through the use of specially commissioned projected imagery.

The collection of contemporary illuminations narrated stories of Colmcille and his followers in vibrant colour in a way designed to appeal to a multigenerational audience. The illuminations were projected at historic locations adjacent to the monastic site and evoked storytelling as well as visual impact. During Heritage Week people could take a self guided tour using the Illuminations' Walking Tour Map, or book a guided tour. 

Project: Ballybay Then and Now, Co Monaghan
Organiser: Ballybay Heritage Society
About: This exploration of Ballybay's cultural and built heritage was created by sourcing old pictures of the town and researching the history of some of the buildings shown in them. The organisers then recreated some of these old pictures by taking the same shots of the present-day town. Locals were asked to share their memories and photographs about these buildings and about living in Ballybay in the past. This information was used to create a timeline for the buildings, which includes the ways in which they changed through time. The work was shared in window displays in the town and online.

Project: Weird Westmeath, Co Westmeath
Organiser: Brinsley McNamara
About: Weird Westmeath is an alternative tourism project based in Co Westmeath. Its aim is to document and celebrate the county's unique places, stories, folklore, history, heritage and peculiarities. That includes the weird, the odd, the forgotten and the overlooked. Its research consists of online resources provided by the National Monuments Service, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the National Folklore Collection, Ordnance Survey Ireland and local newspaper archives.

Project: InterActive Heritage Billboards, Cork City
Organiser: Cork Creates
About: Cork Creates is a city wide youth arts project run by Youth Work Ireland Cork (YWIC), supported by CETB Youth services, which aims to support inclusion and cultural belonging for young people aged between 14 and 24 years. Together with Notes to Cork, a creative agency and artists Davy Dummigan, Tom Campbell and Serge Vanden Berghe, the project saws the design three large artworks inspired by Cork city's rich cultural, built and natural heritage. These were then posted on billboards at Kryl's Quay.

Water Heritage

The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) sponsors the Water Heritage Award 2021. Each year, during National Heritage Week, Water Heritage Day is an ideal time to celebrate Ireland’s rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coastline and our connections with them. Communities throughout Ireland are commended for their efforts that bring people together to discover these connections. Community Water Officers play a key role in supporting communities to organise projects and events each year that celebrate water and its heritage at a local level.

Project: Citizen Scientists Water Sampling on the River Suir, Co Tipperary
Organiser: Suircan Community Forum
About: The River Suir Project is a citizen science venture commissioned by Clonmel-based Suircan Environmental and Dublin-based BioID, a research lab specialising in e-DNA Marine and Molecular Ecology. As part of the project, volunteers with an interest in the health and biodiversity of the river undertook training in water sampling, so that they could take water samples at key points along the River Suir and its tributaries, much of which is desiganted as a special area of conservation.

Project: Stoneybatter Rain Garden Pilot, Dublin City
Organiser: Bí­ URBAN
About: Bí-URBAN is a nature-based social enterprise, ethical shop and community hub based in North Central Dublin. It has been funded by the Local Area Waters Programme to develop a nature-based solution to three urban problems - lack of biodiversity, access to nature and overrun urban drainage. The Stoneybatter Rain Garden Pilot diverts rainwater from local rooftops into purpose built rain gardens, diminishing the the kind of overflow into storm drains that leads to the pollution of water-courses.

Project: In Search of Otter Poo: Otter ID on Mulkear River, Co Limerick
Organiser: Ruairí Ó Conchúir Local Authority Waters Programme
About: This fun initative enabled members of the public to explore the amazing world of the European Otter on the Mulkear River at Annacotty.Ó Conchúir outlined the role of otter poo in otter identification in a family friendly event that included a discussion of otter habitat, diet and the importance of good water quality.

Wild Child

The Wild Child Award 2021 is sponsored by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth under the implementation of First 5: A Whole of Government Strategy to improve the lives of babies, young children and their families.

Project: School Project: Explore Your Local Heritage, Co Kerry
Organiser: Kerry Archaeological & Historical Society, Kerry County Museum and Kerry County Council
About: Explore Your Local Heritage is a creative collaboration which invited primary schools in Kerry to explore their local heritage and share their discoveries. It asked pupils and teachers to take their school building as the focal point and research the hidden history and heritage of their locality.

The project was about any aspect of local heritage chosen by the pupils and all aspects of heritage, whether cultural, natural and built. Eleven schools participated, despite Covid-19 restrictions, and nine schools submitted their projects in May. These impressed the organisers enormously, from the range of heritage topics dealt with to the depth of creative exploration displayed.

Project: Burrenbeo Wild Child event, Co Clare
Organiser: Burrenbeo Trust
About: Burrenbeo in Co Clare hosted a special event for children and families as a part of National Heritage Week in which six to 12 year olds spent a fun filled morning investigating the bugs and blooms of the Burren.

Project: Wild Child at Thoor Ballylee, Co Galway
Organiser: Thoor Ballylee Yeats Society
About: This event was designed to connect children to the wild wonder of a special part of Co Galway, beloved by WB Yeats. It included fairy tales and fables from Yeats as well as poetry and song. A fairy walk provided additional snippets of woodland lore to children and adults. The result was both an exploration and a celebration of the natural beauty of WB Yeats's home at Thoor Ballylee in Gort.

County Awards

Here are 35 wonderful winning projects from across the nation.

Project: Vernacular Irish Buildings Campaign
Theme: Built heritage 
About: SPAB Ireland held three events during Heritage Week based on vernacular buildings, their characteristics and how to preserve them. They also launched a brand new podcast series, 'Heart to Hearth: Chats about vernacular Irish buildings'.

Project: Celebrate the River
Theme: Natural heritage
About: The river that runs through Phil and Don's land in Carlow is a lifeline to local wildlife. To celebrate Water Heritage Day, the Local Authority Waters Programme created a video about the couple, their farm, and the importance of the river.

Project: Stories of Owendoon
Theme: Cultural heritage 
About: Back in 2017, Jampa Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Cavan hosted an evening of local storytelling in the former coach house of Owendoon House. These tales, along with a short film about the history of the property, can be found online.

Project: Heritage Week Programme 2021
Theme: Natural heritage
About: Burrenbeo Trust hosted a series of special events for children and families as a part of National Heritage Week, including a virtual archaeology tour of a Burren farm and the Burrenbeo Wild Child event.


Project: A History of Irish Travellers
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: This five-minute animation celebrates the history and heritage of Irish Travellers. The project was developed by the Cork Traveller Women's Network, a Traveller-led community development organisation.

Project: Amazing Mosaics at the Church of the Ascension, Timoleague
Theme: Built heritage
About: One of West Cork's hidden gems, the Church of the Ascension was built and dedicated in 1811. This summer, the church held an open day, with stained-glass specialist Finola Finlay giving two lectures.

Project: Strabane: Landmarks, Meeting Points and Memories
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: Leonor Bethencourt put together this wonderful documentary for Culture Night 2020. It combines beautiful photography of Strabane (past and present) with tales of the linen industry, the industrial revolution, and the Great Northern Railway.


Project: Mapping the Heritage of Gleann Cholm Cille Parish
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: Gleann Cholm Cille is renowned for its wealth of tradition, culture, music, and prehistoric settlements. A project is now underway to create an interactive digital map showcasing the rich heritage of minor placenames in the area.

Project: Paddle Back in Time in Strangford Lough
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: This wonderful kayaking event, which took place in August, explored the culture of Strangford Lough from medieval times to the modern-day using place and personal names, historical records, and orally collected traditions.

Project: Highlights from the Photographic Collection of the Irish Jewish Museum
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: The museum chose a selection of images from Jewish life in Ireland over the past 130 years to be presented in a narrated PowerPoint presentation. The images were taken from the collection currently being catalogued thanks to a grant from the Heritage Council.

Project: History of Childhood from Medieval Times to the Eighteenth Century
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: The Museum of Childhood has developed a webinar around the theme of the history of childhood in Ireland. Each of the four speakers has shaped their presentation around a particular aspect of Irish heritage, e.g. 16th century illustrations.

Project: Know Your Naul Heritage Week Programme
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: Over the course of National Heritage Week, a series of online and in-person events took place in Naul aiming to promote the local heritage of the area to residents, visitors and the general public.

Project: Clondalkin's Tangible Threads – Irish Crochet in the world of haute couture
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: During the 1950s and 1960s, a group of women from Clondalkin helped to create haute couture outfits for fashion designer Sybil Connolly. This wonderful film records their stories, as well as the development of Irish crochet.

Project: A Milestone to Behold (right)
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: Along the old Gola and Cromcoach roads in County Fermanagh there are 16 milestones, all set one Irish mile apart. Robert Elliott wrote a poem about these important stones, which can be read online.

Project: Daoine and Áit - People and Place
Theme: Built heritage
About: Skehana and District Heritage Group launched an exciting new postcard depicting some of the important built heritage in the area. It was designed and produced by Marian Hardiman.

Project: Heritage Week in Merlin Woods
Theme: Natural heritage 
About: Friends of Merlin Woods organised eight events over Heritage Week. The organisation linked in with the migrant community, people with disabilities, and many others to provide a glimpse of the projects going on in the local woodland.

Project: An Ecological Investigation of the Tralee Ship Canal
Theme: Natural heritage
About: What lies beneath the 3km Tralee Ship Canal? Earlier this year, a local ecologist prepared an online and outdoor event to show the public what has been living in this unique environment.

Project: If These Walls Could Talk
Theme: Built heritage
About: This video explores the bleak and vast history of the Celbridge Workhouse. It was created by dedicated local historian Cathi Fleming and videographer Mark Henderson.

Project: Tullahought Church Inside Out and Upside Down
Theme: Built heritage
About: This wonderful YouTube video explores the history of the local church, which dates back to 1885. It covers both the construction of the church and how it has been altered since then.

Project: The Portlaoise Plane Returns Home
Theme: Cultural Heritage
About: The Portlaoise Plane, built and flown in 1912, is reputed to be the first plane to fly in the Irish Republic. During National Heritage Week, the plane returned to Ireland and was on public display.

Project: Heritage Week Programme 2021
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: During Heritage Week 2021, The Organic Centre held a series of free events, including Biodiversity Around our Waterways, Soil Science with Dr Aga Piwowarczyk, Water Babies Workshop and traditional storytelling.

Project: Women of Limerick
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: Women of Limerick by Sharon Slater is a mobile app to remember and celebrate women from Limerick's history. Thirty women have been mapped across the city at important locations in their stories.

Project: Restoring the Balance
Theme: Natural heritage
About: Scéalta Beo and Creative Ardagh have created a series of videos all about nature and how we can protect it. Topics include attracting pollinators to habitats, foraging in the garden, food forests, pond life, saving seeds, growing vegetables, keeping chickens and embracing weeds.

Project: Dromiskin's Famous Daughter; Traveller Heritage; Farming Heritage
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: To celebrate 30 years of Dromiskin Tidy Towns, the organisation unveiled three heritage-themed information panels. Located in Heritage Park, the panels tell important stories from the area.

Project: Bronze Age Experience Near Finny and Lough Nafooey
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: During Heritage Week, Yvonne Finn, Joyce Country, and Western Lakes GeoEnterprise created a short film exploring a recently discovered ancient hilltop enclosure that is believed to have its origins in the Bronze Age or Neolithic times.

Project: Our Outdoor Living Heritage Museum
Theme: Natural heritage
About: For Heritage Week this year, Wild About Navan created a series of events including a virtual walk-and-talk time machine, a self-guided walking tour, and an online collation of Navan heritage gems.

Project: Castleshanehistory.ie
Theme: Built heritage
About: Discover the local history of Castleshane Demesne, The Lucas Estate, and the Castleshane area with 83-year-old native, Liam O'Connor. Over the years, he has been collecting material that he has now shared on this new website castleshanehistory.ie

Project: Empty Pillars are a Place to Dream
Theme: Built heritage
About: Earlier this year, 18 collage artists from across the world were inspired by the Cumberland Pillar in Emmet Square, Birr. The works formed an open-air gallery and they are also displayed online with accompanying essays.

Project: Ballinlough Crannog Digital Interpretative Project
Theme: Built heritage
About: The Ballinlough Crannog project has developed two digital tools for people to learn about the crannog on Lough O'Flynn. One is a short 3D animation, while the other is an interactive virtual environment for people to explore the lake and crannog at their leisure.

Project: Living Among the Cairns
Theme: Built Heritage
About: This project features a series of short video vignettes. The videos give locals the opportunity to tell their stories and share their connection to Sligo's impressive Neolithic passage tombs.

Project: Virtual Field Trip of the Slieveardagh Coalfield
Theme: Built heritage
About: The last mine in Slieveardagh closed over 30 years ago. However, this year, Slieveardagh Mining Interest Group and Virtual Old School Mining Museum came together to create a series of videos about the history of mining in the local area.

Project: Gallows Hill Exhibition and Artefacts
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: During Heritage Week, the public was able to explore the story behind Gallowshill and see some of the unique artefacts uncovered during community excavations thanks to a wonderful exhibition at Waterford County Museum.

Project: Heritage Week Programme of Events 2021
Theme: Cultural and built heritage
About: Barntown Heritage Group organised a series of events during Heritage Week that included a walk-and-talk revealing the history of the site of Clourane, and a meet-up at the 19th Century Furlong's Homestead.

Project: Bray Cualann Historical Society
Theme: Cultural heritage
About: In August, the Bray Cualann Historial Society researched the social and cultural history of the Boghall area of Bray, from 1744 up until the present day. 
The fascinating account was published on their website.