Explore Nature as part of our Cultural Heritage

We’re making 2017 the year we help more people learn about and enjoy Ireland’s nature. But what if your area of expertise is history or cultural heritage?  Here are 6 ideas to get you started.

From art to architecture, folklore to placenames, nature is deeply rooted in Irish culture. Why not take a fresh look at your museum collection, historic building or archive and see if you can explore an element of nature within it?

Celtic Mythology 

Irish mythology is full of stories relating to Irish landscape and nature. For instance, the tutelary goddesses Boann and Sonnen give their names to the rivers Boyne and Shannon.  Investigate the folklore of your area from old stories about local rivers, to tales of mythical creatures! Bring guests on walks or tours or create an enactment of a mythological tale relating to your area. 

Architecture 

Nature and wildlife could be present in depictions around the design of a historic building like a church. Why not invite guests to learn about how Ireland's landscape inspired the buildings on your site or perhaps talk about how Ireland's natural resources help build and shape the architecture. You could highlight the importance of how certain indigenous trees or rocks were used in the building of structures long ago as the construction of Crannogs.

Landscape 

Create talks around how Irish people interacted with the land in the past. Some famous battles in Ireland were helped or hindered by the Irish landscape. Would things have gone differently at the Battle of the Boyne if they did not come across the swampy ravine at Roughgrange? Perhaps armies used the landscape to their advantage, or there may be tales of failed attempts to siege a village or town due to the wildness of Ireland's landscape or weather. 

Art

In our museums and galleries, there are artefacts or paintings which were inspired by the Irish landscape or made using resources like bogwood, like the Lucan canoe in the National History Museum or Paul Henry’s landscape paintings. Perhaps there is a story to tell of the importance of nature in some of the artefacts or artworks present in your collection. 

Water Heritage

The final day of Heritage Week, Sunday 27 August, will focus on Ireland’s water heritage. Industrial Heritage groups could talk about the importance of our canals to local industry. Historical societies in coastal towns might investigate their maritime history or sea folklore.

Wildlife in, on and around Buildings

Has your building become a home to birds or other wildlife over the years?  You could invite visitors on an alternative tour of the building, spotting new homes that have been made on site. Bird spotting treasure hunts, night time bat walks or drawing sessions might be a good way to involve old and young people alike in noticing the wildlife around a historic building.   Also, why not look more closely at the grounds of your building with a garden or wildlife tour.

So now you know, even if you work at a museum or historic building there are still plenty of ways you can get involved with this year’s nature theme.  

Event Registration will open on 2 May and close on 31 May.  Happy planning!