Water Heritage Day

Sunday 27 August, the last day of Heritage Week, is Water Heritage Day. Discover more about our most precious natural resource, water, in all its forms from lakes to rivers to seas. 

The wildlife along our waterways and shores provides inspiration for young and old alike, just think of a time you saw a trout rising from a river,  a heron still like a statue waiting to strike, or dolphins travelling across a harbour.   Communities the length and breadth of the country have a deep rooted connection to the water environment, and local traditions, stories and songs help to preserve this heritage. 

Here are 10 ideas to help you plan a water heritage event.

From Source to Sea

Where does your local water source come from?  Looking after our rivers, lakes and coastal waters so they can meet our current and future needs are important and require a community effort, not just locally but along the whole catchment of a river from source to sea.  Bring visitors on a walk by your local lake, river or estuary and explain what part of its journey the water is on.  Talk about the ecosystem our water provides and how we can help protect it.

Ireland’s Blueways

Why not create an event along one of Ireland’s wonderful waterways. Blueways are trails along lakes, rivers and canals which can be used for all sorts of recreational activities. You can plan a tour on foot, by bike or even by canoe.

Waterway History

Ireland’s canals and inland waterways hold enormous heritage value. They display unique industrial, architectural, and archaeological heritage as well as being important wildlife corridors. They are full of stories as well, like the bananas shipment that was thrown overboard in Dublin Docklands in 1950 after the Dublin Tropical Fruit Company refused them! The waterways are reminders of a time when Ireland’s main transport network was based on water. Why not create an exhibition, have a talk or organise a tour around your local canal or dockland.

Angling and Fishing

How about catching some fish for your dinner? Fishing has always been a pastime in Ireland and has its own rich heritage on rivers and coasts. Why not get your local angling group involved with Heritage Week this year? Plan workshops or tours and teach the young and old some new skills while also learning more about the importance of our river and marine life.

Water Folklore

Ireland is full of lakes and rivers, each of them with their own legends attached. Like the fairy flooding of Lough Sheelin. Maybe you have some stories to tell about your rivers and seas. How about the Celtic gods and goddess who watched over weary Irish sailors? This year you could highlight Irish stories and legends about water at a storytelling evening or recreate myths and legends for children on a riverside walk.

Holy Wells

There are hundreds of holy wells dotted all over Ireland, many of them still in use but also some falling into neglect with their history becoming forgotten. Why not invite visitors to a tour and talk about your local holy well? Teach them about its history, its powers and its importance in the community.

Water and the Arts

Do you know Irish songs surrounding the history of your waterways? Or paintings of Irish lakes and rivers?  So much of Irish art, poetry, dance and writing have been inspired by our beautiful lakes, seas and rivers.  Maybe run a sketching or painting afternoon near your local lake or plan a music session inspired by your local area.

Maritime History

From the Vikings to the Spanish Armada our seaside towns and villages have seen a lot of visitors and have many stories to tell. Why not have talk or exhibition around the history of your harbour and the boats that would sail in it or host a traditional boat building workshop.

Brewing and Distilling

The most important ingredient in any Irish beer or spirit is good quality water. Irish beer can be traced back no fewer than 5,000 years, back to the earliest days of Irish agriculture. Why not invite guests on a tour of your brewery or distillery? Teach them how you use water in your process and how you promote conservation and use of clean water. 

Get on the Water

There's a range of adrenaline-fueled action out there on the water to choose from. Explore the deep with diving or get up close to seals and seabirds while sailing, surfing, SUPing or kayaking.  Why not arrange a tour where you can have some fun on the water and learn more about wildlife and heritage at the same time?   

And remember, always be safe on or near water! 

Water Heritage Day is in partnership with the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office. 

Heritage Week 2017 event registration opens on 2 May closes on 31 May 2017.