Heritage Week is co-ordinated by the Heritage Council, in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and is part of European Heritage Days, which is celebrated in 40 countries across Europe.
National Heritage Week 2021
National Heritage Week 2021 will take place from Saturday, 14th August to Sunday, 22nd August 2021.
Last year, in response to public health guidelines relating to COVID-19, National Heritage Week moved away from events only, and invited heritage enthusiastic to create projects that could be shared online. Project organisers met this challenge with great innovation and creativity, producing over 800 heritage projects - ensuring that National Heritage Week remained a vibrant celebration of Ireland’s heritage. You can search the full collection of projects here.
As a result of continued public health restrictions and the success of last year’s initiative, National Heritage Week 2021 will retain the project element introduced last year.
This year, National Heritage Week is about getting as many people to enjoy heritage as possible. In particular, heritage project organisers are encouraged to consider how they can connect with ‘heritage newcomers’, who have not engaged with National Heritage Week before; groups or individuals who may not traditionally feel included in local heritage; and heritage enthusiasts of all ages, when planning their projects.
National Heritage Week projects can involve creating something new, such as developing research about a particular place in your locality, or developing an oral history collection about a moment of history in a community. Projects can also involve revisiting or building on a heritage project that you have already worked on, such as showcasing research you have done on a monument, waterway or traditional skill, and finding new ways to grow awareness of it.
Projects can be uploaded via the project organisers portal from Wednesday, 16th June. The last day to submit a project to the National Heritage Week website will be Monday, 30th August.
National Heritage Week 2021 offers an opportunity to invite individuals, families and communities who have never engaged in National Heritage Week to work on a heritage project. National Heritage Week may be a time for individuals or families to uncover their personal histories for the first time. Organisers may also want to explore the history of local landmarks, old buildings or land formations that have become more familiar during lockdowns. Is there a tradition such as a song or craft that has been passed down through your family or community that you are curious about? Have you become more aware of nature in your locality? Heritage exploration opportunities are endless, no matter your interest.
Connect with a group or individual in the community who may not feel included in local heritage. This may also be an opportunity to explore an aspect of local heritage that is seldom considered or celebrated. Think about local communities who may not have local roots. Can you reach out and involve them in National Heritage Week? Consider also existing heritage projects that you may be able to take to the next level in terms of accessibility. Could you make your project available to people with a sensory or physical disability?
Heritage for all ages
Consider how your heritage project can include participants or audiences of different age groups. Think about how your project can involve both younger and older generations. Perhaps your project could capture stories, craft skills or traditional recipes from older community members and bring them to life with a younger generation?
National Heritage Week will also see the continued celebration of themed heritage days, when project organisers can develop specific themed activities.
On Wild Child Day, The Heritage Council encourages kids and families to drop the devices, jump off the couch and get outdoors to explore the heritage in their locality. This year’s Wild Child Day will take place on Wednesday, 18th August.
Water Heritage Day will take place on Sunday, 22nd August as a collaboration between The Heritage Council and the Local Authority Waters Programme. As an island nation, our history and heritage have been shaped by the sea and the great Irish rivers, lakes and wetlands. Water Heritage Day will highlight projects that celebrate water and our connections with it.
All projects uploaded by 30th August will be considered for a National Heritage Week Award. Stay tuned for more information about how to upload your project and about awards.
Tips for getting started with your heritage project:
National Heritage Week 2021 is all about projects and with so much heritage all around us, there are countless approaches you can take. As you prepare to start your project, we have brought together some tips to help you hit the ground running.
This year, National Heritage Week is all about getting as many people to enjoy heritage as possible. To help inspire you, we are encouraging you to consider three approaches: heritage newcomers; heritage sharing; and heritage for all ages. For more information on these approaches, visit the Organise a Project page on the website.
Choosing your topic
Your first step will be to decide on your focused topic. We recommend that you choose a topic a) that’s of interest to you, b) that would be of interest to others, and c) on which there’s sufficient information available to develop into a heritage project. Remember you can always take a project or research that you have already worked on and develop it further. Or you might like to use National Heritage Week to develop new ways to share previous work or reach new audiences.
Building your team
Once you have your topic, you will need to consider ‘who’s going to work on your project’? Do you have the time and skills to work on the project on your own, or will you need help? Consider the business mantra ‘you do what you do best, outsource the rest’ – in this case, ‘outsourcing’ could mean taking the opportunity to work with willing family members, friends, neighbours or members of your heritage group whose expertise would complement your skills. Teamwork might be particularly useful if showcasing your project involves learning new technical skills. When building your team, why not embrace the sentiment of National Heritage Week and consider how you could include ‘heritage newcomers’ as part of your project team.
Make a schedule – and stick to it.
Make sure to give your project a structure. Working backwards from when you need to submit your project, give yourself a start and end date. A timeline of key milestones that you need to meet along the way will keep you motivated and help you complete your project in time for National Heritage Week. If you’re working as a team, make sure to have a project leader, who will co-ordinate the work of the various team members and keep you on track. Don’t forget, project submissions will open on Wednesday, 16th June and the deadline for submissions is Monday, 30th August.
Do your research
Most projects will require some level of research. Before you start, have a think about what you would like to find out about your chosen topic and where you might find that information. Helpful questions to keep in mind when researching a project are the 4Ws and the 1H – who, where, why, when, what, and how? We have brought together some great research resources to help you during this stage. To explore these and to find other information to help you along the way register as a project organiser.
Sharing your project
Once you’ve chosen your topic, built your team, created a schedule and have planned your research, you will need to think about how you’re going to showcase your project on www.heritgeweek.ie – this will help you decide what format your project will take. At this stage, it will be important to consider: are there lots of pictures – would it look good in a report or a presentation?; are there people to speak to – would it make a good podcast or radio piece?; and is there a good mix of both – could you make a video or develop a website?
As you prepare for National Heritage Week we will be sharing more information, tips and resources to support you. All projects uploaded by 30th August will be considered for a National Heritage Week Award.
National Heritage Week 2021: Open the door to heritage will take place from Saturday, 14th August to Sunday, 22nd August 2021.
Adapting to last year's circumstances was no easy feat but the energy and commitment of the 750+ project organisers who create heritage projects this year ensured that Heritage Week remained a vibrant celebration of Ireland's heritage. As a result of the creativity and passion heritage enthusiasts brought to this year's initiative, National Heritage Week 2021 will retain the project element that was introduced last year.