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National Heritage Award Winners Announced

The Heritage Council is delighted to announce the National Heritage Award winners, showcasing the best of National Heritage Week and recognising the fantastic work of all the heritage enthusiasts who take part.  

There were 122 entries for the Awards and 170 nominations for the Heritage Hero award.  The 13 winners came from eight counties from Donegal to Kerry. Co. Clare came out on top with three winners. 

Heritage Hero Award

The Heritage Council’s Heritage Hero Award celebrates someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the protection and promotion of heritage in Ireland.

This year’s winner is historian and author Sharon Slater from Limerick.  Sharon has worked tirelessly over the years in local history research in Limerick.  As well as writing books on Limerick’s history, she established www.limerickslife.com in 2004, an unparalleled treasure trove of Limerick history from rare images to untold stories of Limerick’s people and places.  Sharon devotes her time to heritage in the community from local heritage projects with Limerick Fishermen to leading bicycle tours!  Sharon brings history to life for the people of Limerick and is a worthy recipient of the Heritage Hero Award.    

Hidden Heritage Award

This award shines a light on Ireland’s hidden heritage and was open to event organisers who successfully explored lesser known aspects of Ireland’s heritage during Heritage Week.


The Great Irish Garden organised by Irish Seed Savers in Co. Clare highlighted the amazing diversity and heritage of Ireland's food crops. Due to industrial farming it's estimated that over 80% of crop varieties have been lost in the last 100 years. Ireland has a rich history of food heritage from the well-known Lumper potato to the ancient and very rare Irish Prean’s Pea. Irish Seed Savers’ mission is to save these varieties and make them available to the general public.


The Mining Heritage Hill Walk organised by Glenmalure PURE Mile/Adopt a Monument Group and Glens of Lead in Co. Wicklow explored the hidden social and industrial heritage linked to the mining industry in the valleys of Glendasan, Glendalough, and Glenmalure.  The group hope to establish this route as a way-marked Mining Heritage Trail in the future. 

The Laneways & Bow-ways of Ennis walk organised by Ennis Tidy Towns in Co. Clare was led by local historian Larry Brennan and shone a spotlight on the placenames of the town. These placenames were then uploaded by the organisers to meitheal.logainm.ie, the community placename collection project.

The Sea Kayaking and Geology Tour organised by Wild Water Adventures in Co. Kerry teamed up with Gosia, a local geologist to show the local community and visitors the unique geological heritage of the North Kerry Coastline.  

Heritage Communities Award

This award was open to event organisers who brought their community together to celebrate Heritage Week.


The Foyle: Tales of Salmon Fishing organised by Wild Strands in Co. Donegal celebrated and documented the rich maritime heritage of local fishermen who fished wild salmon on the Foyle.  The organisers recognised the urgent need to create an event so that the wealth of this local tradition could be recorded. In collaboration with the local Men’s Shed they brought men together to share and record their knowledge. There are more plans to record, preserve and pass on the knowledge of the fishermen before it is lost.


Benny Duffy's Photographs organised by Bailieborough Heritage Society in Co. Cavan showcased 85 year old Benny Duffy's photographs of the rural community around Killann Parish, many dating from 1950/60's. The Nursing Home where he now lives took their residents to see the exhibition, bringing generations together to celebrate the social history of a community as seen through one man’s eyes.

Spa Wells Pumps 150yrs organised by Lisdoonvarna Tidy Towns in Co. Clare celebrated 150 years since the first pump was installed at the Spa Wells in Lisdoonvarna. Lisdoonvarna Failte CLG, Lisdoonvarna Heritage Group, Lisdoonvarna Tidy Towns and Visit Lisdoonvarna collaborated to bring people out and celebrate this community owned heritage site. 

Public Street Signage in Cork organised by Niamh Daly & Joanne Hughes, Cork City Council Archaeologist brought the community together to enjoy and learn about an aspect of Cork’s urban heritage.

Cool for Kids Award

This award was open to event organisers who encouraged children and families to participate in Heritage Week.


Go Wild Nature Camps organised by BirdWatch Ireland in Co. Galway was all about connecting children with their local environment through revealing the wonders and importance of local biodiversity. The camps appealed to the innate curiosity that children possess for wildlife and focused on practical hands-on activities and creative exploration.


The Pollinator Party in the Park organised by Laois Heritage Office aimed to raise awareness of pollinators in a fun and engaging way.  Children could enjoy face painting (bees and butterflies of course!), bug hunts, a scavenger hunt and biodiversity quiz, and everyone could build a mini bug hotel. 

Food and Eating in Prehistory organised by Katharina Becker and Ben Gearey of University College Cork focused on archaeology and scientific remains that are usually regarded as being 'too difficult' to hold the interest of young people. Children could get hands on looking down a microscope at pollen grains, trying indoor excavation, butter churning, or grinding grain. 

Chase a Fairy, Find a Bee organised by the Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna, Co. Galway brought children on a journey with the fairies to come see the bees and their bee hotel in a celebration of biodiversity and the importance of bees in our lives, from food production to the eco-system.


From 18-26 August 2018, hundreds of event organisers in national institutions and local community organisations will organise Heritage Week events throughout the country.  Get involved!