National Heritage Week got off to a great start this week in Laois, with a great range of events for all ages.
The theme of the week this year was ‘Sharing Stories’, and it really seems to have inspired people, with the stories of the Wolfhill Collieries celebrated in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, the stories of historic houses like Mount St Anne’s (formerly Mount Henry) in Killenard, Castlewood in Durrow, Ballykilcavan, Rathadaire Stradbally Hall and Abbeyleix Estate explored through talks, walks and open days. Folklore, townscapes, crafts and even the heritage of whiskey also inspired events.
Heritage Officer with Laois County Council, Catherine Casey, said: “As always there has been a wonderful community response to Heritage Week, with over 70 events organised across the county. The awareness of the week seems to grow each year, and we are so grateful to the organisations, communities and individuals who organise events to celebrate their own local heritage each year.”
This year all the groups in the county who were successful in getting Heritage Council community grants held events to showcase their grant-aided projects.
There was a great range of projects on show, from the historic maps of Mountmellick and the monastic site in Timahoe to the swift survey of the county and Dippers in Castletown.
This is European Year of Cultural Heritage, and Ireland’s ties with other European countries were also explored, with a group of traditional dancers from Provence in France joining the Maureen Culliton Dance Group for lessons and Céilí in Ballyfin.
A group of traditional cyclists from Austria joined the Bulfin Heritage Cycle rally across the county, following links made in previous years to celebrate the travels of St Fergal of Aghaboe to Salzburg, where he founded the city’s first Cathedral.
A talk in Portlaoise library investigated the science behind where we all come from, whether that’s in Europe or further afield, with a presentation on the DNA atlas of Ireland, which has created a genetic map of Ireland showing the genetic impacts of immigration, invasion and plantation.
Chairman of the Heritage Council, Michael Parsons said: “Ireland’s heritage is as wonderfully diverse and unique as the communities, volunteers and individuals who champion it in its many forms. Heritage Week is an opportunity for us to come together in celebration of our traditions and stories, while showing appreciation to all those who help make them accessible to the public.
“With events that span music, the environment, history, and nature there really is something for everyone. As the summer holidays drawing to a close, the large selection of family-friendly events has appealed to those looking to make some lasting memories and end the break on a high note,” he added.
For more on Heritage Week and heritage sites in Laois, visit here.
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