Projects carried out in 2021 as part of the Laois Heritage and Biodiversity Strategy 2021 – 2026 include:
Heritage Plan Projects
- A new Heritage and Biodiversity Strategy for Laois was written in 2021 with the assistance of People Place Consulting and in collaboration with the Laois Heritage Forum. Following public consultation and recommendation by the Housing and Planning Strategic Planning Committee, the strategy was adopted by Laois County Council in December 2021.
- The continuation of “Connecting Communities” programme, this year focusing on Timahoe, primarily management of vegetation and trees at the Timahoe early Christian site, in accordance with the aims of the Timahoe Conservation Plan.
- Heritage Awareness programmes for Biodiversity Week and Heritage Week – mostly online due to Covid-19 and public health restrictions. A series of films about Laois Heritage was commissioned and premiered live during Heritage Week – these can be viewed here.
- Publications for 2021 included:
- Phase II of the book on the Rock of Dunamase was completed, with publisher Wordwell Books. The book will be published in 2022.
- The final version of the Fort Protector Conservation Plan (now with designer, to be launched early 2022)
- The Heritage Offices of Laois and Offaly County Councils supported a new BirdWatch Ireland podcast, In Your Nature, which has been downloaded over 10,000 times.
National Biodiversity Action Plan Projects
- Continuing with research and surveys of ecology at Abbeyleix Bog. Project details and reports are now available to download here.
- Survey of Wetlands in Laois – Phase I desk study is now complete, and phase II will be carried out in 2022. Full details here.
- Gardening for Biodiversity
- A series of newspaper articles aimed at gardeners, on how to improve wildlife in your garden, was commissioned and published throughout the year in the Leinster Express.
- An Irish language version of the Gardening for Biodiversity Book was published: download here.
- Awareness-raising for pollinators – A series of radio ads were played on Midlands 103 local radio throughout the year.
Just Transition Fund
The Conservation and Pollination – Just Transition funded project – started in 2021 with conservation plans for all 6 sites almost complete and to be published in early 2022. Full details of this joint Laois-Offaly project and all the sites included are here.
Community Monuments Fund
2021 Projects in Laois under the CMF included:
- Conservation of medieval masonry at Killabban Church, and installation of interpretation
- Conservation of medieval bell tower and graveyard at Old St Peter’s Graveyard Portlaoise
- The grave effigy of medieval knight Robert Hartpole was conserved and returned from Portarlington to Carlow.
Details of all 2021 Community Monuments Fund Projects and reports are here.
Portlaoise Plane and Col Fitzmaurice
The Heritage Office worked closely with the Col Fitzmaurice Commemoration Committee to plan and deliver the safe return of the Portlaoise Plane home to Portlaoise, with a celebratory event in September at Laois Music Centre, full details here.
A short film was made of the plane’s arrival home to Portlaoise, see below.
Colonel Fitzmaurice Newspaper Archive
With the help of Heritage Council Community Heritage Grant Funding, an invaluable collection of newspapers and other original archive material relating to the first East-West Transatlantic flight was professionally conserved, archived and scanned for upload to the Laois Digital Archive.
Abbeyleix Climate Action Project
Science. The walk was created thanks to the support of Healthy Ireland, an initiative of the Government of Ireland with funding from the Healthy Ireland Fund and the Sláintecare Fund delivered by Pobal,
administered by Laois County Council.
The Climate Action Project for Abbeyleix was completed in 2021, with the support of Creative Ireland Laois.
Full details of the project are here, and a story map of the Abbeyleix Climate Action Walk was created.
The Heritage Office worked in collaboration with other sections in Laois County Council and in the community, on the following regeneration projects in 2021:
- Timahoe Town and Village Renewal Scheme (ongoing). This will see conservation and refurbishment of the community-run Heritage Centre at Timahoe;
- Stradbally Town and Village Renewal Scheme (ongoing) will include conservation of stonework on the bridge and installation of pollinator and swift friendly features, in addition to public realm improvements;
- Portarlington Rural Regeneration Fund Project will involve conservation of the historic Portarlington Market House;
- Ballylinan Town and Village renewal (application submitted);
- Mountmellick O’Connell Square regeneration plan (ongoing).
Portlaoise Destination Town (Fáilte Ireland funded)
Laois County Council was successful in obtaining Failte Ireland Destination Town funding for Portlaoise. Following on from the Interpretation Plan and Conservation Plan for the 16th Century Fort Protector in Portlaoise, part of this fund has been dedicated to the design and installation of high quality interpretation for the story of the Fort and its people. Working in collaboration with other sections in Laois County Council and members of Laois Heritage Society, the material has been written and designed, and it is hoped that installation will be completed in 2022.
Creative Ireland Projects
- “Know Your Locality” online course delivered for Laois Heritage Office by the Irish Heritage School, supported by Creative Ireland Laois.
- Work on archiving the Ronnie Mathews archive commenced, in partnership with Laois Library Service and supported by Creative Ireland Laois. Details here.
All Ireland Pollinator Plan
Laois County Council signed up as a Council Partner in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan in 2021. Actions taken by the Council departments to look after pollinators are included in the National Biodiversity Data Centre review of the year’s actions by councils nationwide. Details of Laois actions are here.