National Heritage Week 2022 Winners
The National Heritage Awards has recognised the enormous contribution of individuals and community groups across Ireland in ensuring the preservation, protection, and promotion of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage.
The National Heritage Awards honour those organisers who created the most engaging and inspiring events and projects for National Heritage Week 2022 as well as Ireland’s Heritage Hero. This year, National Heritage Week celebrated the return of in-person events while continuing to showcase digital projects, which proved popular over the last two years. More than 1,800 events and projects took place around the country in August during National Heritage Week, as communities and individuals answered the Heritage Council’s invitation to explore this year’s themes of sustainable heritage and biodiversity.
Entrants were also encouraged to use environmentally friendly practices to ensure the sustainability of their events and to share heritage with everyone in the community, including those who are new to heritage, those who do not have local roots or those who have additional accessibility needs.
Heritage Hero Award
Teddy Fennelly from Portlaoise, Co Laois: Teddy Fennelly has been an advocate and enthusiast for local history and heritage in Laois for more than 50 years. He has been honoured with the 2022 Heritage Hero award for his outstanding contribution to the protection and promotion of heritage over that time. He has been pivotal in ensuring that the story of Colonel James Fitzmaurice and first East-West Transatlantic flight in April 1928 is remembered and his book Fitz and the Famous Flight is the definitive work on the subject.
Sustainable Heritage Award
Ballyshannon Regeneration Group, Co Donegal: With the help of the Heritage Council, Donegal County Council and property owners, Ballyshannon Regeneration Group’s 'Ballyshannon Historic Town, Conversation and Conservation’ event aimed to breath new life into the town, through the reuse of some of the historic buildings. The event featured a walk and talk, with stories and discussion about buildings set for conservation.
BirdWatch Ireland in association with Kildare Bat Group and Laois Heritage Office, Co Laois: Irish Wildlife Trust Laois Offaly Branch, BirdWatch Ireland and Kildare Bat Group organised ‘Bats about Rooks’, a walk for all ages through the People’s Park in Portlaoise to hear all about its bird and bat life. Speakers included ornithologist Ricky Whelan, who discussed the rookery at the nearby Downs, the largest roost in Co Laois. The walk continued along the Triogue River with information about bats from Anna Collins of Kildare Bat Group.
Sustainable and Inclusive Event Award
Irish Wheelchair Charity Shop Letterkenny with Donegal County Museum, Co Donegal: The ‘Selling the Past Exhibition’ was an interactive exhibition of items donated to Letterkenny’s Irish Wheelchair Charity Shop, all with links to Donegal’s history. People were invited to browse through the store to find items with tags featuring historical information about Donegal, such as an embroidered cloth that connected the finder with the county’s famous cottage sewing and lacemaking, and a fireside chair inspired by the tradition of visiting and hearing poems and songs.
Wild Child Award (sponsored by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth)
Myshall Nature, Co Carlow: Myshall Nature hosted ‘Myshall Community Family Biodiversity Day’ to celebrate the rich biodiversity found in local garden spaces. The event focused on family participation using a ‘dig a little, plant a little and play a little’ approach. Activities included biodiversity flower bed planting, bird feeder crafting, and tree trail and heritage trail scavenger hunts, and a picnic.
Water Heritage Award (sponsored by the Local Authority Waters Programme)
StreamScapes, Co Cork: StreamScapes organised the ‘Launch of Blue Dot Coomhola River Booklet'. The ‘Blue Dot’ Catchments Programme is about identifying the means to conserve Ireland’s high-status water bodies. In support of this, StreamScapes, a designer and producer of community engagement projects for catchments around Ireland, developed a template for communicating Blue Dot objectives to local communities. They launched the Blue Dot Booklet on the Coomhola River, at a ‘StreamSchool’ in Coomhola, Bantry, and followed with a river field trip.
Speaking at the event, Minister Malcolm Noonan TD, said: “I am delighted to be able to attend the annual National Heritage Awards and acknowledge the fantastic work of so many heritage enthusiasts around Ireland. National Heritage Week demonstrates that there are a great many people who really do appreciate our precious heritage – be it built, natural or cultural – and are willing to work together to protect and conserve it. I share that commitment and welcome the fact that my Government colleagues and I have been in a position to double funding for natural, built and archaeological heritage since I took office in July 2020.”
Chair of the Heritage Council, Dr Martina Moloney praised the enthusiasm and passion of the event and project organisers. She said: “National Heritage Week is not only a celebration of heritage but also a celebration of people and particularly those whose work in heritage, very often as volunteers, has made such a difference to their communities. The Awards are our chance to say thank you for the outstanding work and collective effort of all participants.”
Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan added: “National Heritage Week aims to build awareness and education about our heritage. This year it looked to the past to create a better future and chose themes that have particular resonance for us all as we grapple with climate change and the impact we have on the world around us. We chose the themes of sustainability and biodiversity and encouraged organisers to examine the intersection of the environment with preserving our tangible, intangible and natural heritage to create a more resilient world. The Awards are a recognition of every organiser, and of every event and project that took place. Today’s recipients are representative of the tremendous work of all organisers across the country, work that supports and encourages heritage protection.”