National Heritage Week 2023 Theme: Living Heritage
The theme for National Heritage Week 2023 is "Living Heritage". This theme is centered around the practices, knowledge and skills that have been passed from one generation to the next, and are still in use today. So for National Heritage Week 2023, the Heritage Council is encouraging you to get out and explore the Living Heritage from your locality, community or family.
What is Living Heritage?
Living Heritage is referred to as the "practices, knowledge and skills that have been passed from one generation to the next, and are still in use today.” Living Heritage is cultural heritage and celebrates the past-times, crafts, skills and practises that are still in use today. For a more encompassing definition, UNESCO defines “Living Heritage” as the “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and the knowledge and skills related to craftsmanship". But what are examples of Living Heritage?
Exploring Living Heritage
Ireland has a vast array of traditions that are our Living Heritage. Some of these traditions and skills that could be identified as Living Heritage would fall under different categories.
For example in sports in Ireland there are Gaelic Games like hurling, Camogie, Gaelic Football/Ladies Gaelic Football, Handball, Falconry. In the area of the arts including dance and music there is Irish Traditional Dance and Irish traditional music but also the instruments involved like the Irish Harp Playing, Uileann Piping and Wrens Days.
In the area of crafts and skills traditions like Traveller Tinsmithing, Lace making and Basket making would feature. For example Ireland has a number of different methods of lace making and embroidery such as Headford and Carrickmaccross lace making as well as Mountmellick Embroidery that are still being promoted and shared today.
Living Heritage extends to our buildings too and the practices of building and maintaining structures such as thatching, lime plastering and dry stone walling. It also can be applied to our waterways and sea. Sea Currach Making, Seine Boat Building, Snap Net Fishing are skills that have been passed down from generation to generation and are still alive today.
Even in your own community you will find practices that are relevant to Living Heritage. Across Ireland there are thousands of Holy Wells with their own tradition, feast day and stories. There are pilgrim paths that might be still in use today that you might be aware of. In addition many local communities in Ireland have started to record local field names as a way of preserving their local heritage.
If you are curious as to what other traditions and practices might fall under Living Heritage, have a look at the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Time to Explore Living Heritage
This year's theme gives us an opportunity to take a closer look at the work being done by the custodians of our heritage. Explore how yesterday's heritage has become today's, and how this heritage can, thanks to people who pass on their knowledge, be safeguarded for future generations.