Uncover Centuries of Hidden Heritage at Ireland’s Historic Properties this National Heritage Week

12 August 19

A walk along Celtic tree trails, an exploration of Victorian pastimes and a taste of Georgian fine dining are just some of the events organised by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to mark National Heritage Week which runs from 17th -25th of August.

National Heritage Week is a celebration of Ireland's built, natural and cultural heritage and aims to generate awareness, appreciation and preservation of Ireland’s wonderful resources. This action-packed week is coordinated by the Heritage Council and is now one of Ireland’s largest cultural events. This year some half a million people are expected to attend some 2,200 events across the country.

The chosen theme for this year’s Heritage Week is the celebration of Pastimes and Past Times and to mark National Heritage Weekend, the OPW has organised a wide range of events with something for absolutely everyone.

Rosemary Collier, Director of National Historic Properties at the OPW said "Heritage Week is a fantastic annual event that encourages us all to delve into Ireland’s rich history, explore new spaces and places and gives the whole family a chance to share exciting cultural experiences together. The OPW will be hosting events right across the country under the Heritage Week theme of Past times and Pastimes. Visitors to OPW sites will be able to explore the sites and learn of traditions, social practices, rituals, knowledge and skills that were transmitted from generation to generation within these properties."

Some of the events taking place across Ireland’s historic properties include:

Victorian Era Pleasures and Pastimes, Kilkenny Castle, 21st & 23rd of August.

Kilkenny Castle, which is celebrating 50 years under the management of the OPW, is hosting tours on the pleasures and pastimes in the Victorian era: this tour will focus on the hobbies and pastimes of the Victorians, including fashion, travel, leisure and literature.

Swiss Cottage, Cahir, Co Tipperary, 24th of August.

A truly bijou piece of Irish heritage, the Swiss Cottage is inspired by Queen Marie-Antoinette's cottage orné at Versailles, where she kept a variety of farmyard animals and birds at her specially designed "ferme orné", or ornamental farm.  This Heritage week   visit Swiss Cottage and discover its unique style of architecture and learn about the aristocratic young couple who built it 200 years ago. To further immerse yourself in the "ferme orné" experience, the Nore Valley Park Mobile Pet Farm will be on site to offers families an interactive farm experience.

Totally Terrific Tomato Festival, Botanic Gardens, Dublin, 17th- 25th of August.

Heritage isn’t all about houses of course and at the Botanic Gardens heritage tomatoes will be just one of 250 types of tomatoes on display at the Totally Terrific Tomato Festival which opens during National Heritage Week at the National Botanic Gardens.

Celtic Tree Trails, JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum, Wexford, 17th of August.

Trees had an important status in Celtic Irish mythology. At JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum, visitors can travel back in time, learn about the importance this ancient culture placed on our native tree flora by exploring Ireland’s native tree collection. 

Food and Feasting in Dublin Castle, 23rd of August.

Starting in the Medieval under croft with Viking fare and ending in the State Apartments, where Queen Elizabeth II was served “Ireland on a plate”, this Heritage Week Dublin Castle will be serving up a food-focused tour of the historic building.

Georgian Dining at Castletown House, Co Kildare, 21st of August.

Continuing on theme of food, at Castletown House a Heritage Week tour will look at the dining experience in a Georgian house: the procession, the pomp and the ceremony. Follow the guides to look at the print room, a favourite pastime of ladies of the period, and finish at the funerary statues and learn about mourning mementos.

Magazine Fort Tour, Phoenix Park, Dublin, 18 & 25th of August.

The Magazine Fort was an ammunitions storage depot and was built in 1734 to a French star fort design, with additions in the 19th century to accommodate military families, and a bakery shed in the 20th century to feed the soldiers. The unique tour will also cover the 1939 IRA raid of this historically significant fort.

Victorian Living, Oldbridge House, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, Co. Meath. 25th of August.

Step back in time on a tour of the Victorian basement of Oldbridge House and see how the servants worked below stairs. The Living History tours will show you the tasks the servants were expected to perform and will take you through the vaulted basement to bring history alive.

Women’s Voices Then & Now, Rathfarnham Castle, 22nd of August.

The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII by Mary Moynihan, Paul Kennedy and Fiona Thompson, is a creative re-imagining of moments from the lives of women during WWII recalling stories of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horror of war, as women stood up against fascism and totalitarianism and refused to accept oppression.  Women’s stories in the performance include, among others, Mary Elmes (1908 – 2002), the first Irish person honoured as ‘Righteous Among Nations’ for her work saving Jewish children during WWII; and Neus Catala Palleja (1915 – 2019) from Spain, a member of the United Socialist Party of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, an active collaborator with the French Resistance during WWII, and until her death in 2019, the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbruck concentration camp for women.

Emo Court, Laois, 18th and 25th of August.

Immerse yourself in this Gandon designed stately house, one of Ireland’s most important country houses. To celebrate Heritage Week there will be free guided tours of the feature rooms in the House, where you will hear stories of the characters who lived there from 1790 to 1970.

National Heritage Week is part of European Heritage Days. These are a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union in which over forty countries participate each year. The main aim of European Heritage Days is to promote awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage and to promote Europe’s common cultural heritage. Every year millions of Europeans visit historical monuments and sites throughout Europe on European Heritage Days.

For more information on all of these events and on all thing’s heritage week go to www.heritageweek.ie or contact OPW Client Services and Communications at 01 647 6106 or opwcsc@opw.ie.

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