Explore History Through Nature

This year for National Heritage Week, we are celebrating the diversity of Ireland’s nature. From archaeology to architecture, folklore to placenames, Irish culture is deeply rooted in nature.

The famous Ellen Hutchins Festival in Bantry, Co. Cork celebrates Irelands first female botanist with a full week of events. On Saturday 19 August at 2pm you can go on the Ellen Hutchins: Ardnagashel Walk learning along the way about both Ellen Hutchin’s family history and the hidden nature she uncovered through her work.  

Every day of Heritage Week you can take a Walk on Glenmalure Pure Mile  in County Wicklow. This is a self-guided tour with information leaflets which highlight the natural, historical and built heritage of the area.  

Nature is also present in many of our historical and heritage sites around the country. Cloyne Cathedral in County Cork are hosting a History & Nature in Graveyards event for kids on Saturday 20 August.  Explore the graveyard while learning about its rich history and nature.

Kilkenny Castle is Bringing Nature Indoors and offering tours of their period rooms on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of Heritage Week. You can witness where nature inspired the design and decoration of many of the rooms throughout the castle.  Also in Kilkenny Castle don’t miss a screening of the award winning nature documentary 'Fis na Fuiseoige' on Tuesday 22 August. The film explores the connection between people and place, as expressed in Irish-language poetry and local lore.

Here are some more nature and history highlights:

Historical Walk at Lough Hyne - Skibbereen Heritage Centre, Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve, West Cork

Saturday 19 August, 2pm - 4pm

Join historian Terri Kearney on a walk through 4,000 years of Lough Hyne's heritage. Terri has written 2 book on Lough Hyne and will share her knowledge of its archaeology, history and folklore.  Route includes hills.

The Archaeology of Loughcrew - Office of Public Works, Cairn T Loughcrew, Co. Meath

Sunday 20 August, 3pm - 4pm

Dr Lynda McCormack talks about the Archaeology, Landscape and Legend of the Loughcrew Hills.  Loughcrew is an outdoor site so dress for the weather. The climb to the top of the hill is steep so wear sensible shoes.

Observations on Nature - Russell Library, Maynooth University, Kildare

Monday 21, Wednesday 23, Thursday 24 August, 10am - 5pm

Explore nature through the historical print collections of the Russell Library. Books on gardening, botany, agriculture and husbandry will be on display some of which will refer to the local area.  The exhibition will appeal to anyone who has an interest in nature and the environment, local history, botanical art or life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Closed for lunch 1-2pm. 

Historical Nature Walk & Expo -  The Abbey, Rathmullan, Donegal

Tuesday 22 August, 7pm - 9pm

A Nature Walk with Aengus Kennedy of Nature North West, examining the flora in the Abbey graveyard, nearby Lough Swilly shoreline and the School’s Ivy Research Project at R.D.R.C. Aengus will describe the flora in the Abbey graveyard, how the monks farmed, what plants grew here 500 years ago, and the importance to local inhabitants, then and now, of Lough Swilly with its enormously diverse wildlife. Children can be Gaelic Chieftains and Ladies for the evening with Aengus’s iconic nature crowns. We end with a cup of tea at R.D.R.C. and a display of the Ivy Project. Local school children have made a study of ivy before the Abbey ivy is removed in conservation work.

Dublin Bay: Nature and History by Richard Nairn - Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre, Dublin

Tuesday 22 August, 7:30pm - 9pm

The talk provides an insight into the nature and history of Dublin Bay. Over one million people have direct access to one of the vital amenities on the east coast which is recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere. It covers the natural environment of the bay and how the seascape changed with the growth of Dublin City and Port over the millennia. For generations of Dubliners, the Bay has been a key part of their lives, an economic asset, life support system and an invaluable recreational resource. Richard is a writer and leading ecologist. He studied Science at Trinity College & UCC and was the 1st Director of IWC BirdWatch Ireland. His book ‘Dublin Bay - Nature and History’ will be published in October.

Glasnevin: Dublin's Garden Cemetery - Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Finglas Road, Dublin

Wednesday 23, Friday 25 August, 2pm - 4pm

Did you know that Glasnevin Cemetery is a Victorian ‘garden cemetery’?  It opened in 1832 in an age when cemeteries were being landscaped and designed as places of remembrance and contemplation. This unique tour will explore the elaborate natural heritage of Glasnevin Cemetery, along with some of the stories associated with the oldest sections of Ireland's largest and most famous cemetery.

Our Environment and Placenames -  An Caipín meeting room, Coppeen, Cork

Wednesday 23 August, 7pm - 10pm

Exploring the relationship between our natural environment and local placenames in the Coppeen area by way of an illustrated presentation and interactive discussion.

Nature and History of Lough Swilly - Buncrana Community Library, St. Mary's Road, Buncrana, Donegal

Thursday 24 August, 12pm - 2pm

Walk and talk on the nature and maritime history of Lough Swilly by Mari McLaughlin. Starting from Buncrana Community Library and walking for about 6 km along Lough Swilly. Free refreshments at the library on completion of the walk. A gentle walk on urban pathways but suitable footwear and clothing for walking advised. If the weather is bad, the talk will be given in the library.

Our History in Nature Conservation - North Bull Island Visitor Centre, Dublin

Saturday 26 August, 10am - 4pm

A mixture of illustrated talks with interactive displays, workshops and walks to pay tribute to the naturalists of the past who contributed to our knowledge and understanding of biodiversity today. A series of snapshot talks (20 mins each) to introduce the person(s) and their field of study, highlight key contributions to science, and use their story to inspire naturalists today. Followed by interactive displays, workshops and walks linked to the themes of the talks. Themes include 'By the Seaside', 'Small yet Beautiful' and 'A City of Flowers'.

Walking the Royal Canal - Binns' Bridge, Dorset Street, Dublin to Broadstone, Dublin

27 August, 2:30pm - 4pm

Discover the Royal Canal and learn about this almost forgotten waterway. This guided walk will introduce you to the history of the canal and to some of the stories to be found along its banks. This walk in the company of Peter Clarke, from the Royal Canal Amenity Group, will take you along the Dublin section of the canal where you will discover its history, why it was built and why it took the route it did in the race to reach the River Shannon. This pleasant walk, through canal and local history will take about an hour and a half, where all you require is a good pair of walking shoes.


Heritage Week takes place from 19-27 August 2017 across Ireland.  For more Heritage Week events happening near you search our listings