The successful “Know your Locality” course has finished its second booked out run in Laois with a field trip to discover the hidden secrets of the Rock of Dunamase. The free online course introduced participants to the heritage of Ireland, and introduced them to the wide range of online sources that would allow them to paint for themselves a picture of the geological, archaeological, and historical events that happened in their own local area.
Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said: “We were delighted to be working again with the Irish Heritage School to bring this course to everyone with interest in the built, natural and cultural Heritage of Laois. During recent lockdowns we have all become more aware of the beauty and value of our own local place, and this course taps into that. We hope it will equip people with the tools they need to research their locality and look at their own patch with new eyes. We are really grateful for the support of Creative Ireland in Laois, which allows us to bring this course to the public for free.”
The course was delivered through five online tutorials, starting by looking at the very bedrock under our feet, examining the geological processes and glacial events that shaped the landscape and formed the soils. The course then examined the impacts of humans on that landscape over time, from pre-history to the last century. Workshops focussed on a different aspect of geology, the landscape and archaeology of Laois each week, from the formation of Ireland to the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, with a focus on each workshop on teaching online research skills.
Participants learned how to use these skills to make their own submission to the ‘Know Your 5k ’ initiative of the Heritage Council and National Museum of Ireland. Through this and other citizen scientist programmes, course participants can make a real contribution to the conservation of our heritage by recording what is in their local area, what the local community values and raising awareness of its importance.
The course ended with a field trip to the Rock of Dunamase, with the participants learning how to analyse a site in a holistic way, starting with the landscape and the rocks, to look for clues to how the area was formed and what might have led people to settle there. They learned about the arrival of the Anglo Normans to Ireland and the influence that William Marshall has had across all of Ireland, including Laois. All agreed it was a fitting end to an excellent course.
The course was organised by the Heritage Office of Laois County Council with support from Creative Ireland as part of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022 and was delivered by Dr Stephen Mandal, of the Irish Heritage School.