‘Living Heritage’ at more than 80 OPW Events for National Heritage Week 

by Gazette Reporter
0 comment

Traditional music, basket weaving, dragon slaying & Norse spelling on OPW’s immersive & interactive programme at over 70 sites nationwide

Tuesday, 1 August 2023.  The Office of Public Works (OPW) has announced its biggest ever programme of events to the public for this year’s National Heritage Week, which runs from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 August 2023. OPW’s programme features more than 80 public events, workshops, talks, tours, demonstrations, and experiences taking place at more than 70 OPW historic sites around the country. 

National Heritage Week is an initiative from the Heritage Council, which celebrates Ireland’s natural, built, and cultural heritage. 

The theme of this year’s celebration isLiving Heritage’, which encompasses the rituals, traditions and knowledge passed from generation to generation which over time define a community’s culture and history. 

Five-year-old twins Evie, right, and Maisie Scourfield from Templeogue follow the lead of Red Hugh O’Donnell and make their escape from Dublin Castle

To help make the intangible tangible, many OPW sites are putting Irish rituals, traditions and crafts at the heart of an 80+-strong event programme, with something for children and adults alike. 

Rosemary Collier, OPW Head of Heritage and Capital Works Delivery said: “At OPW, we work all year round to protect the built and natural heritage in our care and to provide the public with access to breathtaking sites, immersive tours and experiences, including historic houses, gardens, castles, and estates. This Heritage Week, we look beyond the physical artefacts and structures we preserve to the rich tapestry of rituals, crafts and traditions that tell the story of Ireland’s ancient heritage. With ‘living heritage’, the Heritage Council has created a powerful theme to bring the living and lived aspects of heritage to life. 

“There is truly something for everyone this National Heritage Week across more than 70 OPW heritage sites nationwide. We hope that the public take full advantage of the range of creative, immersive, and imaginative events on offer for all ages.”

Highlights of OPW’s Events Programme include:

  • Try your hand at basket weaving with a visit to the stable wing at Castletown House in Celbridge. Join a hands-on workshop using willow sourced directly from the estate.
  • Immerse yourself in the ancient trades at Portumna Castle, Co. Galway which presents ‘The Gaelic Tradition of Crafts, Trades and Learning’ on the lives of bards, scribes, blacksmiths and more. 
  • Absorb the atmosphere of the Prison ballroom recreated by local musicians Triúr who will perform to an intimate audience in Reginald’s Tower, Waterford with a selection of traditional Irish jigs & reels at Ireland’s oldest civic building and former lock-up. 
  • Tuck into a ‘Fricassé of Frogs and Cold Claret’, a dining-themed tour of Rathfarnham Castle and leaf through the 18th century menus of Henry Loftus, based on newfound archaeological evidence.
  • Follow in the footsteps of the turf cutter on ‘The Humble Sod’ tour. Learn about the ancient practices of turf-cutting with a scéan at Castletown House, Celbridge.

For Children & Families:

  • Meet Raghnailt, a real-life Irish Viking and help him slay a dragon, find the last werewolf in Ireland, and spell your name in Old Norse as part of ‘Sagas and Scéáls’ which is sure to capture young imaginations at Reginald’s Tower, Waterford. 
  • Don the armour of a knight at Reginald’s Tower, Waterford or get creative and design your own family crest in this crafty Swords and Shields workshop.
  • Dress up in the finest Elizabethan and Tudor styles at Rathfarnham Castle’s Castle Crafts workshop – design your own Elizabethan ruff and craft a Tudor rose badge.
  • Aim your sights at Portumna Castle and Gardens’ Archery Showcase and see this ancient hunting technique in action.
  • Discover the hidden gems of Dublin Castle’s ‘Treasure Hunt for Irish Symbols’.
  • Join the Storyteller’s Walk at Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, Longford and follow the trail of magical tales of fairies and spirits.

As in previous years, the OPW is also offering free admission on the first Saturday of Heritage Week, 12 August, to all OPW sites that are normally fee-paying. 

OPW’s programme of events can be found as part of the Heritage Council’s full calendar for National Heritage Week available here: https://www.heritageweek.ie/event-listings?q=opw#listings as well as on Heritage Ireland: https://heritageireland.ie/whats-on/ .

Pictures Mark Stedman

Related Articles