Get out and about for National Heritage Week

Valerie O’Connor looks at some of the things the family can do in the great outdoors from today.

In a world of Whatsapp, Snapchat, Tinder and Facebook, it’s easy to ignore the world around us, forget where we are and where we came from.

As we are more connected online, it seems there is a greater disconnect in our daily lives and we spend more time shopping for new clothes and gadgets, and looking for Pokemon, than engaging with our own environment.

With National Heritage week kicking off it’s bumper week today, we have no excuse to not get off the couch and get out into our own environments to engage in some really cool activities and learn all sorts of things about our past, present and of course, our futures.

Happily the week also recognises that teenagers have interests too and there are some events geared at teens — like a jailbreak at the Old Courthouse in Lifford, Donegal; a talk on piracy in West Cork, and wildlife spotting with An Taisce at Biobitz in Donegal.

Events across the country for the week running from August 20, today to August 28, cover a hugely diverse range of topics from bog walks to clock-making to visiting historic homes and gardens. Attending any of these free events will inspire you and be a lot of fun too.

With topics as diverse as horticulture, forest walks, archaeology, marine walks, singing, dancing, bell-ringing, picnics, island tours, this important week is a great way to re-connect with the natural and historical world around you and get in plenty of fresh air to boot.

The bat walk and talk in Clare is on our list, as well as the boat tours of the Shannon which I’ve heard are just magical. One organisation to watch out for are Cork Nature Network, a local group that promotes the conservation and protection of wildlife species and natural habitats in Cork.

It was established in 2015 by a group of eleven wildlife enthusiasts, all wishing to spread the word on the importance of wildlife. They regularly run public and children’s events throughout the year, including a talk on wolves, putting up bird and bat boxes, woodland walks in Glengarriff, marine talks, coastal plants and many more.

The current projects include working with Cork City Council to manage Beaumont Quarry; an otter citizen-science project; a Cork City Ladybird survey, an invasive species recording web page, and a project looking at buzzards in Newmarket.

To celebrate its work and the importance of natural heritage, the Cork Nature Network is running a summer picnic on August 28 in Beaumont Quarry. It starts at 11am and includes walks and talks, music, children’s events, stalls and other activities including a talk on ladybirds, an otter walk, a woodland walk and more.

Every year, as part of National Heritage Week, the Irish Seed Savers Association host their biggest open day of the year. Anita Hayes founded the Seed Savers in Co Carlow in 1991, before it moved to Scarriff, Co Clare in 1996.

It exists as a living archive and testimony to Ireland’s unique botanical wealth. Anita began collecting and growing heritage crops with the intention of preserving and rescuing native varieties that were fast disappearing.

Seedsavers main objective is to preserve Ireland’s biodiversity and its projects focus on the cultivation and preservation of heirloom varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs and Irish heritage apple trees. As Ireland’s only public Seed Bank, they protect and preserve heritage and heirloom crops that would otherwise be lost to future generations. 

This year on Sunday, August 28, Irish Seed Savers are inviting the nation to come visit their orchards and gardens to celebrate ‘The Great Irish Garden’. Free talks, tours, tastings, guest speakers and demonstrations means there will be something for the beginner and avid gardeners alike, weather permitting, there will be a children’s treasure hunt too. On the day, ISSA will have hot food on offer in its cafe and the cob pizza oven will be fired up.

This year marks the 25th year anniversary of Seed Savers, and anybody who would like to develop their interest in food growing, procure some great apple tree stock or just have a walk in their beautiful gardens and orchards, should check them out and support their work.

More outdoor food and nature related events include a day with the amazing Ted Cook, who will lead a talk on caring for trees at Broadford Wildlife Arboretum, at Broadford, Co Limerick, on Sunday at 2pm. Even if you think you’re not interested in trees, listening to Ted Cook will change your mind.

A bog walk in Ballylanders takes place on August 24 at 11.30am and the The Ballyhoura Walking Festival runs tomorrow until Monday from 10am to 5pm. 

The department of Archaeology at UCC is presenting an interactive presentation on ‘Food in Irish Prehistory — what did we eat in the Bronze age and Iron Age?’ at the museum n Fitzgerald’s Park today from 11am to 3pm with an opportunity to get hand’s on with butter churning and bread-making. Another event worth a visit is a walking tour of the Churchfield allotments, at 3pm today.

For the full list of all events go to www.heritageweek.ie 


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