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​20 free things to do on the second weekend of Heritage Week!

It’s the final weekend of National Heritage Week 2019, but don’t worry because there are still plenty of exciting events taking place right across the country! So make sure to take the opportunity this weekend to delve into Ireland’s Pastimes | Past Times and get involved in a Heritage Week activity near you, such as tracing your family tree; spending an evening at a pop-up Gaeltacht; or taking part in a Viking Heritage Day!

Here’s just a small flavour of some of the Heritage Week events taking place across Ireland this weekend.

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20 free things to do on the first weekend of Heritage Week

It’s the eve of National Heritage Week 2019 and there a plenty of exciting events taking place during the first weekend of National Heritage Week! Take the opportunity this weekend to attend some free events happening across the country: attend a medieval day, go on a guided tour of a castle, learn how to recognise bird song or spend an hour visiting an archaeological dig in Glendalough!

Here are just some of the free Heritage Week events happening across Ireland this weekend!

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Visit a castle or country house this Heritage Week!

Ireland is very lucky to have a wealth of wonderfully preserved castles and country houses scattered across the length and breadth of the country. So, whether you want to spend an afternoon strolling through the gardens of Kilkenny Castle, soak up the history of Derrynane House, or take in the views from the top of Trim Castle’s tower, there are plenty of options to explore this Heritage Week.

Here is just a small selection of castles, country houses and gardens which will be open, free of charge, on various dates between 17 – 25 August. Go and explore!

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Let’s talk about heritage – our top ten Heritage Week talks

Heritage Week is all about getting involved, but sometimes, you just want to sit back and listen. There are talks on a whole range of topics this National Heritage Week: from beekeeping, to historical cures, to fairies. Attend with the whole family or take some time to yourself and become fully immersed in a topic of your choice.


Here are just some of the picks from the hundreds of Heritage Week talks happening across Ireland between 17 – 25 August.

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A spotlight on 10 Heritage Week events for children and family

One of the great things about National Heritage Week is that it gives the whole family a chance to share new and exciting cultural experiences together. Whether you have a budding historian, a future artist, or an inspired archaeologist at home, there’s an event for all young heritage enthusiasts to enjoy.

Here are just some of our family friendly Heritage Week event picks. So get the family together this August and unravel the evolution of our pastimes, before the school holidays draw to a close. Oh, and don’t forget ‘Wild Child Day’ falls on Wednesday, 21st August.

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Heritage Week 2019 launches with a host of unique events celebrating Irish Pastimes from Past Times

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, TD, has launched National Heritage Week 2019, which takes place nationwide from Saturday, 17th to Sunday 25th August. The week will showcase the joy, diversity and accessibility that can be found within our country’s rich heritage. As a nation of storytellers, all of our heritage is linked to stories of people, places, moments and things.

Heritage Week 2019 will be a call to action for people to discover, interpret and embrace their heritage and in turn create their own new pastime - to become an explorer, an archaeologist, a storyteller, a wildlife enthusiast.

With almost 2000 events taking place throughout the country, there is undoubtedly an event for everyone, no matter their age or interests. The eclectic offering of events in this year’s schedule includes picnics and parties, talks and tours, ceilís, crafts and craic, all of which serve to make our country’s heritage more inclusive than ever.

National Heritage Week is a celebration of Ireland's built, natural and cultural heritage and aims to generate awareness, appreciation and preservation of our wonderful resources.

This year The Heritage Council’s chosen theme for Heritage Week is the celebration of Pastimes and Past Times.

Speaking on the importance of Heritage week, Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan said “I pay tribute to the hundreds of individuals and communities across Ireland who, every year, give of themselves to stage events and share their interest in heritage with the public at large. This commitment is the backbone of our heritage, and it is more important than ever, given the imperatives around climate action, that we nurture those who nurture our heritage.

The Heritage Week programme features events for all ages, most of which are free to attend. Highlights include:

'A Modern Eye: Helen Hooker O'Malley's Ireland'. Dublin City. 21st August. National Photographic Archive, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar. This event will celebrate the work of Helen Hooker O'Malley with music and readings of her unpublished poetry in the photographic exhibition. The National Library's National Photographic Archive.

Ceramics and Geology Workshop, The Elliott Centre, Kilkee, Smyths Gardens,

Kilkee, Co Clare. - 17th August

Join us on a material journey from earth to pot, exploring the geological history of Co. Clare and the transformation of earth materials into fired ceramics with a geological twist.

Medieval Warfare Re-enactment, Ormond Castle, Tipperary – 18th August

An afternoon of action as fully armoured warriors battle for survival, using steel replica armour and weapons in full contact medieval fighting. Meet the warriors and see their weapons

Coastal Heritage Cruise – Cruit & Owey Islands, Donegal – 20 – 23rd August

Explore the spectacular rugged coastline and Irish place names, discovering past times and life on the islands while breathing the fresh sea air

Wild Child Day - Wednesday 21 August

On this day, event organisers are encouraged to host events specifically for children, from history hunts and storytelling sessions to crafts workshops.

Fireside Ceili, Backyard, Moynehall, Cavan - 21st August

Fireside Ceili, with music, song, dance and traditional refreshments.

Water Heritage Day - Sunday 25 August

Together with the Local Authority Waters Programme, we celebrate our most precious natural resource in all its forms, from the sea to rivers, lakes and ponds.

Speaking ahead of the launch of Heritage Week 2019 the CEO of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan said “The theme of this year’s National Heritage Week – ‘Pastimes | Past Times’ – is one that will appeal to anyone who can remember what it is to be a child, who has a hobby, enjoys a craft, is an enthusiastic collector, plays an instrument or just likes to tell stories. We hope this year, as in previous years, you find something to enjoy by yourself, with friends or with family.”

Coordinated by the Heritage Council since 2005, National Heritage Week has become one of Ireland’s largest cultural events. Last year, more than half a million people attended in excess of 2,200 events across the country, most of which were hosted by communities, volunteers and individuals who champion Ireland’s heritage in its many forms.

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A spotlight on 10 workshop events to get hands-on with this Heritage Week

Take the opportunity this National Heritage Week to explore the many workshops and craft events taking place across the country. This is a great opportunity to learn something new or show off your existing skills. Grown ups and kids alike are encouraged to get hands-on with the range of events on offer, from spoon carving, to research, to dry wall building.

Here are just some of our workshop Heritage Week picks, so roll up your sleeves this August and get involved.

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Island hopping through heritage - A spotlight on Heritage Week island events

Ireland is surrounded by islands big and small just waiting to be explored. Step away from the hustle and bustle of life on the mainland and see a new side to Ireland by visiting some of our most cherished islands. Join in on a beach clean on Ireland’s Eye in Dublin, try whale watching on Valentia Island in Kerry or attend a house dance on Scattery Island in Clare.

There’s an island event to suit everyone, even those not too keen on boats. Here are just some of the exciting island events happening this National Heritage Week.

1. Guided Nature Walk on Whiddy Island, Co Cork

Spend an afternoon tracing the footsteps of Ireland’s first botanist, Ellen Hutchins, during this guided walk on the beautiful Whiddy Island. Part of the Ellen Hutchins festival taking place over Heritage Week, this event is a great opportunity to soak in the fresh air and the almost undisturbed nature of this island, located off the coast of Bantry Bay. The walk takes place on Thursday, 22nd August and further details are available here.


2. Coastal Heritage Cruise, Co Donegal

Will you be in Donegal this Nation Heritage Week? Why not spend a morning exploring the stunningly rugged coastline on a cruise around Cruit and Owey Islands. You will have the chance to hear all about the place names and the history of the area while taking in the views of the Northwest coast. The excursions run from Tuesday, 20th to Friday, 23rd August. Further details and booking information is available here.


3. The Glacial Landscape of Clew Bay, Co Mayo

Come to Clew Bay and learn all about how the Ice Age affected the area and shaped this unique landscape. Set in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, you can take in the beauty of these islands without having to leave the comfort of solid ground. Taking place on Thursday, 22nd August, this is a perfect event for those who want to see island heritage without having to get on a boat. Further details are available here.


4. Whale Watch Ireland 2019, Co Kerry

Spend a day on the gorgeous Valentia Island. This day long activity on Saturday, 24th August commences with an opportunity to explore the island in the morning before reconvening for lunch. After lunch you will then meet your Whale Watch Ireland guide, with whom you will spend the afternoon looking out for and learning about whales, dolphins and other marine life who live in the waters around the island. Further details available here.


5. Irelands Eye: Beach Clean & Heritage Tour, Dublin

Are you someone who would like to be involved? Join Clean Coasts for an afternoon beach clean-up and a heritage tour of one of Dublin’s lesser explored landmarks. This event is an opportunity to learn about the effects of climate change on coastal heritage and how we can help. There will also be a talk on the geology and archaeology of the island. The trip takes place on Saturday, 17th August. Further details available here.

6. House Dance on Scattery Island, Co Clare

Join a local dance teacher and spend the afternoon learning traditional dances such as the Caledonian set, shoe the donkey, and waltzes. Take in the wonderful landscape of Scattery Island and visit its historical sites including a lighthouse, a ruined monastery and much more. This family friendly day out takes place on Saturday, 24th August. Further details available here.

7. Féile na bhFlaitheartach: 2019, Co Galway

Visit the Aran Island of Inis Mór, one of Irelands most popular tourist attractions, for a full day of events celebrating two local writers, Liam and Tom O’Flaherty. Events include talks, discussions, dramatic presentations and more. This great celebration of Irish writing talent takes place on Saturday, 24th August. Further details available here.

8. An Arranmore Holiday 1889, Co Donegal

Join Seán Boner, President of the Donegal Historical Society for his illustrated talk on the Sinclair family’s exceptional photograph album of their holiday on Arranmore, in the summer of 1889. The family stayed at the Glen Hotel in Arranmore, bringing with them their very own dry plate camera. They recorded their holiday as well as everyday life on the island and captured how the island looked before the modern era. This is the perfect afternoon activity to step back in time after a morning exploring the island. Further details available here.


9. Templenaskellig: A Hidden Gem

One of Glendalough’s seven churches, the often missed Templenaskellig is located on the upper south lake and is only accessible by boat. This event will bring Templenaskellig to the visitor, showcasing images, illustrations, excavation reports, maps and much more to finally make this beautiful church accessible to all. Open throughout heritage week, why not get the family together and take the opportunity to visit Glendalough and experience this event. Further details available here.

10. Achill Tales of Drama and Trauma, Co Mayo

Why not visit Achill Island this Heritage Week? One of Ireland’s most impressive island landscapes, with towering cliffs and stunning beaches. Immerse yourself in nineteenth-century Achill history through storyboards, folklore and an island heritage tour, including startling and dramatic island narratives. Join Patricia Byrne for Achill Tales of Drama and Trauma in the Achill Experience Centre in Keel on Monday, 19th August. Further details available here.

National Heritage Week will take place from 17th – 25th August 2019 with a wide array of events happening across Ireland, come and see what's on near you.

Cover photo courtesy of the Ellen Hutchins Festival.

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Our top 10 Heritage Week 2019 event picks with a focus on music and instruments.

Music has remained one of Ireland’s favourite pastimes, from ancient times, to the Georgians, to the present day. This year’s National Heritage Week programme has plenty in store for those with a musical ear, with a wide range of options to suit every taste, and some wonderful days out for the whole family to enjoy!

Join in with your own musical talents or just sit back and listen. Here are our 10 ten musical picks from across the country which we think hit the right note.