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National Heritage Week 2021: Open the door to heritage

The Heritage Council is delighted to announce that National Heritage Week 2021 will take place from Saturday, 14th August to Sunday, 22nd August 2021.

Last year, in response to public health guidelines relating to COVID-19, National Heritage Week moved away from events only, and invited heritage enthusiastic to create projects that could be shared online. Project organisers met this challenge with great innovation and creativity, producing over 800 heritage projects - ensuring that National Heritage Week remained a vibrant celebration of Ireland’s heritage. You can search the full collection of projects here.

As a result of continued public health restrictions and the success of last year’s initiative, National Heritage Week 2021 will retain the project element introduced last year.

This year, National Heritage Week is about getting as many people to enjoy heritage as possible. In particular, heritage project organisers are encouraged to consider how they can connect with ‘heritage newcomers’, who have not engaged with National Heritage Week before; groups or individuals who may not traditionally feel included in local heritage; and heritage enthusiasts of all ages, when planning their projects.

National Heritage Week projects can involve creating something new, such as developing research about a particular place in your locality, or developing an oral history collection about a moment of history in a community. Projects can also involve revisiting or building on a heritage project that you have already worked on, such as showcasing research you have done on a monument, waterway or traditional skill, and finding new ways to grow awareness of it.

Projects can be uploaded via the project organisers portal from Wednesday, 16th June. The last day to submit a project to the National Heritage Week website will be Monday, 30th August.

Heritage newcomers

National Heritage Week 2021 offers an opportunity to invite individuals, families and communities who have never engaged in National Heritage Week to work on a heritage project. National Heritage Week may be a time for individuals or families to uncover their personal histories for the first time. Organisers may also want to explore the history of local landmarks, old buildings or land formations that have become more familiar during lockdowns. Is there a tradition such as a song or craft that has been passed down through your family or community that you are curious about? Have you become more aware of nature in your locality? Heritage exploration opportunities are endless, no matter your interest.

Heritage sharing

Connect with a group or individual in the community who may not feel included in local heritage. This may also be an opportunity to explore an aspect of local heritage that is seldom considered or celebrated. Think about local communities who may not have local roots. Can you reach out and involve them in National Heritage Week? Consider also existing heritage projects that you may be able to take to the next level in terms of accessibility. Could you make your project available to people with a sensory or physical disability?

Heritage for all ages

Consider how your heritage project can include participants or audiences of different age groups. Think about how your project can involve both younger and older generations. Perhaps your project could capture stories, craft skills or traditional recipes from older community members and bring them to life with a younger generation?

Themed days

National Heritage Week will also see the continued celebration of themed heritage days, when project organisers can develop specific themed activities.

On Wild Child Day, The Heritage Council encourages kids and families to drop the devices, jump off the couch and get outdoors to explore the heritage in their locality. This year’s Wild Child Day will take place on Wednesday, 18th August.

Water Heritage Day
will take place on Sunday, 22nd August as a collaboration between The Heritage Council and the Local Authority Waters Programme. As an island nation, our history and heritage have been shaped by the sea and the great Irish rivers, lakes and wetlands. Water Heritage Day will highlight projects that celebrate water and our connections with it.

All projects uploaded by 30th August will be considered for a National Heritage Week Award. Stay tuned for more information about how to upload your project and about awards. For now, check out last year’s amazing winners!