Is there a tradition or a song or craft that has been passed down through your family or community that you are curious about? Have you recently become more aware of nature in your locality? Opportunities for exploring your heritage are endless, no matter your interest.
National Heritage Week, an initiative by the Heritage Council, celebrates all things heritage. It brings together communities, families, organisations, cultural institutions, academics, and enthusiasts, to build awareness about the value of heritage and to support its protection and preservation.
This year, National Heritage Week is all about getting as many people as possible involved in heritage. The Heritage Council is encouraging project organisers to connect with a group or individuals in their community who may not feel included in local heritage. Organisers can also take this opportunity to explore an aspect of local heritage that is seldom considered or celebrated.
The Irish Examiner spoke with Lorcan Scott, the Heritage Council’s Wildlife Officer about what Heritage Week involves, why it’s so important, and who should get involved.
“National Heritage Week highlights what it is that makes us who we are, what it is that brings out the best in us, what’s important to us that we want to cherish and don’t want to lose,” said Lorcan.
The Heritage Council assumed the role of coordinator of National Heritage Week from the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government in 2005. Since then, the week has grown into a highly successful programme, and last year more than 800 heritage projects were organised and shared on the National Heritage Week website.
National Heritage Week is supported by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and run in association with Fáilte Ireland. At county level, National Heritage Week is coordinated and supported by Local Authority Heritage Officers, their colleagues, and numerous local heritage groups and organisations.
According to Lorcan, it's a week not only for learning but one for connecting, “It’s all unique- it’s a link to my past, your past, all of our pasts. It’s that thread that runs through our Irishness. At every stage, you’re learning something new.” National Heritage Week is all about encouraging as many people as possible to engage with and share experiences of their local and national heritage. In 2021 the Heritage Council asked project organisers to consider, in particular, ‘heritage newcomers’, ‘heritage sharing’ and ‘heritage for all ages’.
“We would like everyone to get involved. We are particularly making an effort this year to try and encourage people who may not have had the confidence to go forward with a project for National Heritage Week before. We’re looking for project organisers from socially deprived areas, refugees, people seeking asylum, traveling communities, and the LQBTQI+ community. We would really like to use technology to bring out the best of Irish culture and shine a light on areas that we may not get to if were waiting to do it in person,” said Lorcan.
The Heritage Week projects should be presented in a format that can be shared widely, for example, an online talk or exhibition; a video; podcast or oral history recordings; a PowerPoint presentation, newsletter, dedicated website or blog; or via an interview with a local radio station or newspaper. A dedicated, moderated social media account could also be included as a project output.
National Heritage Week runs from Saturday, 14th – Sunday, 22nd August, and all projects that meet the objectives of National Heritage Week in a meaningful way will be promoted on the National Heritage Week website and considered for the National Heritage Week Awards 2021.
To find out how to register your project or to find inspiration from other projects, click here.