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

It’s the eve of National Heritage Week 2019 and there are 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!

1. Sligo Dracula Tour, Co Sligo

A special Heritage Week walking tour by the Sligo Stoker Society. On the tour, discover Sligo’s connection to Irish author Bram Stoker. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 12pm to 1.30pm. More information is available here.

2. Wexford’s Walled Town Medieval Day, Co Wexford

Wexford Walled Town Medieval Day is a free fun day for all the family. Come and see Viking shield making, falconry, pottery making, guided walks, and much more. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 12pm to 5pm. More information is available here.

3. Children’s Bird-Watching Event, Co Kildare

This bird-watching event for children will help you identify the different types of birds you see every day. Learn how to recognise bird song, how and what to feed them, and what we can do to help them survive in an ever-changing and challenging environment. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 10.30am to 4pm. More information is available here.

4. Geology Walk: Loop Head Through Time, Co Clare

Spend a morning strolling along the stunning coastline and explore the fascinating geological history of Loop Head. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 11am to 12pm. More information is available here.

5. Cork Heritage Open Day, Cork City

As a special event for Heritage Week, the team of Old Cork Waterworks will provide guided tours of the impressive Victorian Architecture, and the steam engine and boiler rooms. Discover a lesser told story, a behind-the-scenes secret: yet an essential ingredient to the prosperity of Cork City’s rapidly growing population in Victorian times. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 11am to 3.30pm. More information is available here.

6. Guided Tour of Killua Castle, Co Westmeath

Enjoy a guided tour of the stunning Killua Castle, a great opportunity to see the castle and to learn about this building. You will also hear how the castle is linked to Lawrence of Arabia and Sir Walter Raleigh! This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 10am to 4pm. More information is available here.

7. Portrait Drawing, Co Waterford

Come along to the Waterford County Museum and hear talks about portrait drawing in art history and examples from the museum's portrait collection. Have a go at drawing by sketching a model on the day. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 10am to 4.30pm. More information is available here.

8. Frozen in Time, Co Mayo

Join Kevin Barton, to explore the Icehouse, hidden on the grounds of The National Museum of Country Life. Using the latest techniques, they will survey the extent of the buried structure and discover its hidden secrets! This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 11am to 4pm. More information is available here.

9. Glendalough Open Day and Big Dig, Co Wicklow

Come along to an open day at the UCD archaeological excavations at Glendalough. Go on a guided tour of the site, inspect artefacts, examine displays and much more. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 11am to 4pm. More information is available here.

10. Gerry and Kim’s Infamous History Tour, Co Leitrim

Join Gerry Kilrane and Kim Taylor on their infamous walking history tour of Mohill town. Learn about Mohill's unique and versatile history and hear tales of murder, notorious landlords and much more. This event will take place on Saturday, 17th August from 11am to 12.30pm. More information is available here.

11. The Showband Exhibition Launch, Co Donegal

Come along to the launch of the exhibition, which will have stands of items and memorabilia from the Show band era. Enjoy a first look at the exhibition! This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 4pm to 5pm. More information is available here.

12. Coon Threshing Day, Co Kilkenny

Yellow Clay Heritage Projects will host a threshing event in Coon. Showing harvesting equipment from the first part of the last century. There will also be a dancing board present, promising to be a wonderful afternoon. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 1pm to 3pm. More information is available here.

13. Trad Session at the Muckross Schoolhouse, Co Kerry

Come and watch up and coming musicians as they play traditional music in the lovely setting of Muckross schoolhouse. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 2pm to 3pm. More information is available here.

14. Walking Tour of Ballykilcavan, Co Laois

A guided walking tour of the newly renovated 18th century farmyard at Ballykilcavan and the 19th century walled garden, where the famous gardener William Robinson started his career. A lovely way to spend an afternoon, with an opportunity to explore the farmyard. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 2pm to 3.30pm. More information is available here.

15. Exploring the Mall, Co Longford

Discover the history and ecological heritage of The Mall town park in Longford, from earliest times to today. Help find out the plant and animal species in a BioBlitz. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 11am to 1.30pm. More information is available here.

16. Old Industries of Tullamore, Co Offaly

Learn all about Tullamore’s past industries, and how these industries affected the town and those living there. With talks on the Tullamore Bacon Factory, the Tanyard Lane industries from the 1960s and much more. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information is available here.

17. Free Museum Sunday, Co Roscommon

Enjoy free entry to the famous Irish National Famine Museum, learn about the Ireland of the Famine, the people who emigrated, and more. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 10.30am to 5pm. More information is available here.

18. Carrowmore Through the Ages, Co Sligo

Join the Carrowmore Guides as they take you on a fascinating journey through the different time periods associated with the Carrowmore complex, from the Mesolithic era to modern times. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 2pm to 3.30pm. More information is available here.

19. Discover the Heart of Viking Dublin, Dublin City

Join the guides in Dublinia for their Viking themed tour. Travel back to the city in Viking times, see what life was like on board a Viking warship, and much more. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 11.30am to 12pm. More information is available here.

20. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Co Galway

Come along to the Irish Workhouse Centre to see their new museum and experience a behind-the-scenes look at how the museum operates. Listen to a discussion and examine some of the main workhouse artefacts. This event will take place on Sunday, 18th August from 1pm to 2pm. More information is 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 Dublinia.