Family Fun during Heritage Week in Laois
Fun for all the family during Heritage Week
Heritage Week in Laois starts on Saturday 17th August and runs until Sunday 25th August. With a rich tapestry of events for all the family – most of them free – this is the ideal time to get out and explore the built, natural and cultural heritage of Laois.
Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said “the wide range and huge number of events taking place in Laois this year is testament to the huge commitment of communities and voluntary committees across the county in celebrating their heritage as part of our shared identity and sense of place. Many of these committees have been working on their Heritage Week events since last year, and they really do deserve all of our support”.
Pastimes of Past Times
The theme for this year’s Heritage Week is “Pastimes – Past Times” and there is a great range of events exploring and celebrating the pastimes of days gone by. Cormac Bowell of Sandymount Heritage in Abbeyleix has pulled out all the stops this year with a vintage football match for children (17th August), a workshop on making badges of the flags of the world (17 August), casting of metal toy soldiers (18th August), vintage board games at Abbeyleix Heritage House (21st August), Mountrath Library (22nd August) and Portlaoise Library (23rd August), code-breaking in Stradbally Library (23rd August) and tales by the fireside (25th August).
Other pastimes are celebrated with the history of photography explored in Portlaoise Library, with renowned photographer Veronica Nichols and Midlands Science (21st August), an event to remember cutting turf in times past in Mountmellick (19th August), writing old Irish in Abbeyleix (19th August), the heritage of Bridge in Portlaoise library (22nd August) and straw craft for children in Mountmellick and Portarlington Libraries (23rd August). Michael Moylan brings back his incredibly popular “Irish History Live” show bringing the people and stories of past times to life in Libraries across the county during the week.
Heritage Week Festivals
The ever popular Bulfin Heritage Cycle returns this year with a look at “Meandering Monks and Medieval Miles”. There is a new addition to the event this year – for those unable to take part by High Nelly, it will be possible to go along on the tours by bus! See bulfinheritagecycle.com for all the details.
A new addition for Heritage Week this year is the Twin Trees Festival in Ballinakill. Inspired by the work of Edwin Lutyens who designed Heywood Gardens, the local community have put together a wonderful array of arts, culture and heritage events for the second weekend of Heritage Week, including “Tour, talks and Tea”, a novel mix of a guided tour of Heywood Gardens, talks on the site by renowned experts David Averill, of the Lutyens Trust and Dr. Matthew Jebb, of the National Botanic Gardens, with a break for Afternoon Tea in the Village! Other events include painting and yoga workshops, readings, flower arranging and more – See twintrees.ie for all the details.
Heritage Week also includes tours of historic properties including Stradbally Hall and the Gardens and old Church at Abbey Leix, and a walking tour of Ballykilcavan farm and Brewery. Exhibitions on for the week include displays of Mountmellick embroidery, and exhibitions of Folklore and Local History at Mountmellick Library.
Emo Court continue the excellent series of events on all season, with free guided tours of the house on both Sundays of Heritage Week, a classical guitar concert on 26th August and a talk on the First Earl of Portarlington by John Stocks Powell on 21st August. Some events require booking, see http://emocourt.ie/for details.
Wild Child Day will be celebrated across the country on Wednesday 21st August and in Laois we have two special events for kids, Forest Fun for Families at Emo Park wood s with Reconnect with Nature and Wildlife fun with Dale Treadwell at Abbeyleix Library. A very special treat fr wildlife lovers will take place on Friday 23rd August with widlife art workshops by Aga Gradnowicz and Juanita Browne at Portlaoise and Mountmellick Libraries. Aga is an award-winning willdife illustrator, co-author of “Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals”, which was SHORTLISTED for the Irish Book Awards 2018 and was the winner of the Children’s Books Ireland Honour Award for Illustration 2019.
Juanita Browne has worked worked on natural history documentaries for television, including the multi-award-winning ‘Secret Life of the Shannon’ and ‘On a River in Ireland’. Juanita’s books include ‘Ireland’s Mammals’ (2005); and ‘My First Book of Irish Animals’ (2014), which was shortlisted for the Literacy Association of Ireland Children’s Book Award 2015. All these events are free, but booking is required.
All about Community
Community celebrations are an essential part of Heritage Week and this year is no exception. The community of Kilminchy in Portlaoise is coming together to celebrate the history and heritage of the area on 17th August with a family fun day and a heritage talk in the evening. The community of Killeshin will celebrate the built and natural heritage of the Killeshin Waterworks with guided walk by ecologist Fiona MacGowan and industrial heritage specialist Fred Hamond on Saturday 24th August.
This is just a taste of the events taking place during Heritage Week – for full details of all Heritage Week events in Laois, download the Laois Event Guide at www.laois.ie/heritage or pick up a printed copy in your local library or Tourist Office. Heritage Week is co-ordinated nationally by the Heritage Council, and details of all events taking place across the country during the week are at www.heritageweek.ie.