Heritage Week



Heritage Week with a difference in Laois

National Heritage Week, one of Ireland’s largest cultural events, runs from Saturday, 15th – Sunday, 23rd August 2020. It will be marked locally by a series of heritage projects developed by groups across Laois. Due to public health guidelines, many of this year’s events have moved online, and heritageweek.ie is the place to go for all details.


Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said “It’s been a real challenge to prepare for Heritage week this year, but one thing we all know is how important our local heritage has been for all of us during the lockdown and the time since. We have all had to find new ways to connect people with their local heritage, and to engage with people both online and offline. There has been a wonderful community response to Heritage Week – It’s great to see such a great range of heritage projects shown and we are so grateful to the organisations, communities and individuals who organise projects to investigate and celebrate their own local heritage each year.”


Local heritage groups and organisers, families and communities across the country have developed projects around this year’s theme of ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’. The theme is designed to promote the sharing of experience and knowledge, while ensuring the country’s heritage is more inclusive than ever in restricted times.


Based on this year’s theme, projects were developed around three broad sub-themes: Heritage of your doorstep; heritage and education; and relearning skills from our heritage. All projects shared via the Heritage week website before the end of August will be considered for a National Heritage Week Award.


To take account of restrictions on gatherings, rather than focusing on the organisation of events this year, local heritage groups, families and communities have been invited to develop projects around this year’s themes of Heritage and Education, Learning from our Heritage and Heritage on your Doorstep.

Michael Moylan, Irish History LIve at work in Rathdowney Library for Heritage Week in 2019. 
Photograph: Alf Harvey

It’s a great opportunity to find out about heritage projects happening not just in Laois but all across Ireland, with great range and depth of community heritage on show.


Discover some of the Heritage Week events happening in Laois:

Children of the Free State

A new photography exhibition of portraits by Laois artist, Annie Holland will be available online for Heritage Week. Over the past 2 years, Annie has documented people from rural Laois born before or just after 1922, taking portraits of them and having conversations about the past and the present. The project encompasses an invaluable the socio-cultural heritage of Laois from 1922 and the photography and video materials are being donated to the Laois County Library Digital Repository and Archive. This exhibition is supported by Creative Ireland Laois, as part of the Creative Ireland Programme 2018-2022. The photography exhibition will be on display in the Dunamaise Arts Centre when local public health guidelines allow, hopefully from 24th August. The work is available to view online now at the Heritage Week website


Gardening for Biodiversity

View the full range of Gardening for Biodiversity materials online – these include the original booklet by Juanita Browne, with illustrations by Barry Reynolds, 6 video tutorials on how to improve your garden for wildlife, and the newly published Garden Biodiversity Colouring Book. All details here.


This year, projects for National Heritage Week have embraced a variety of digital and online formats, providing innovative ways to explore Ireland’s diverse heritage – from online talks and exhibitions, to virtual tours, podcasts, videos and blogs.  This focus brings communities together by allowing the public to discover and explore national heritage treasures from their own homes


Heritage Unlaoised

A new series of “Heritage Unlaoised” videos will be launched on Facebook especially for Heritage Week this year. The series will feature Laois people taking “virtual tours” of some of the top heritage sites in the county.


Catherine Casey said “We were thinking of all the Laois people across the world that haven’t been able to visit home this year, all the older or vulnerable people who have had to cocoon or limit their movements and also the families trying to find ways to entertain the kids in the last few days of summer. This series is an attempt to bring their local heritage closer to them – on their computer or mobile phone. Whether it’s a trip down memory lane to the places your Dad used to bring you on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or a chance to see some of the places you’ve always meant to visit but haven’t had the time, we hope this series will have something for everyone. Each weekday evening during Heritage Week at 8pm on the Laois Heritage Facebook page, we will have a new video, featuring Laois people, Laois sites and Laois enthusiasm. We’re hoping that people will join in with their thoughts and memories too, and we’ll gather all the comments together at the end of the week and maybe even have a prize for the best!”


Ready for the off at the Bat Walk in Castletown during Heritage week 2019.
Photograph: Alf Harvey.

New county awards announced for National Heritage Week Awards

All projects submitted this year will be considered for a National Heritage Week Award. National Heritage Week Awards have been expanded this year to include an award for the best project in each county. Projects will be assessed on the basis of their local reach and community engagement, educational value and the level to which they involve different age groups.


Laois Heritage President and 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.”


CEO of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan added: “This year in particular, National Heritage Week offers a moment for community engagement and social cohesion. With so many of us holidaying at home, National Heritage Week offers new ideas and experiences to build on our renewed interest in heritage. The projects showcased give us all the opportunity to reflect on our heritage, and to learn something about our past that can perhaps influence our future. I invite people across the country to visit heritageweek.ie, browse the extensive range of heritage projects that people have worked tirelessly on – and see what small events may be taking place in their area – and connect with their local heritage.”


For more on National Heritage Week see www.heritageweek.ie and for details of heritage events and projects in Laois, check out the Laois Heritage Facebook page

What next?

Heritage Week gives us the opportunity each year to revel in the best of the built and natural heritage of our County, whether it is attending a talk, going for a guided walk or visiting a local heritage site. This is just the beginning though. Most of the Heritage sites celebrated during Heritage Week are open all year-round. The museums of the County, many built heritage sites and wildlife areas are all there to be explored at any time.

Just some of the heritage events lined up for later this year include a special collaboration with Midlands Science and the National Museum of Ireland to bring family workshops on Vikings and an evening talk on Bog Bodies to Portlaoise, on Thursday November 14th, as part of Science Week.

For more information on heritage in Laois or to find out about events and updates for the rest of the year, check out Laois Heritage Forum on Facebook or Twitter.

National Heritage Week is your opportunity to explore and learn more about Ireland’s natural heritage and helping to conserve and preserve it for the future. Heritage Week in Laois is coordinated by Laois Heritage Officer. National Heritage Week is coordinated by The Heritage Council and its aim is to build awareness and education about our heritage, encouraging its understanding and conservation.

Heritage Council Heritage Week logo 2017