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Mayo’s embraces Heritage Week


Donkey Day at Turlough House

Michael Duffy

EVENTS organised for National Heritage Week are currently taking place right across the county and over the next few days members of the public have a great chance to engage with the rich heritage so prevalent right across Mayo.
National Heritage Week began last Saturday and runs until Sunday next, August 27. The week is coordinated by The Heritage Council and its aim is to build awareness and education about our heritage, thereby encouraging its conservation and preservation.
Many of the events that take place during the week are free and the programme highlights the abundance of great work that is carried out in all communities in Ireland to preserve and promote our natural, built and cultural heritage.
National Heritage Week is part of European Heritage Days. These are a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union in which over 40 countries participate each year. The main aim of European Heritage Days are to promote awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage and to promote Europe’s common cultural heritage. Every year millions of Europeans visit historical monuments and sites throughout Europe on European Heritage Days.
The Heritage Council assumed the role of coordinator of National Heritage Week from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government back in 2005. Since then the week has grown into a hugely successful programme of over 1,700 events.

Heritage in Mayo
Events continue to take place across the county and this evening (Tuesday) at Westport Library, there will be a talk by Marie Boran entitled ‘James Hardiman: historian, book collector, and librarian and Mayo man’. The talk will take place at 7.30pm and will cover the life and career of James Hardiman, who trained as a lawyer and became sub-commissioner of public records at Dublin Castle. 
Hardiman was born in Westport in 1782, the son of an estate owner and, in addition to his career at Dublin Castle, he became a member of the Royal Irish Academy where he collected and rescued many examples of traditional music.  Shortly after its foundation Hardiman became the librarian of Queen’s College Galway (now NUIG) and the library was later named in his honour. Marie Boran is the Special Collections Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, at the National Museum of Country Life at Turlough, an event is taking place that is sure to be popular with young and old.
Once a hugely important part of rural life in Ireland, the humble donkey is set to take centre stage once again at ‘Donkey Day’ which takes place from 12 noon to 4pm in the grounds of historic Turlough Park.
This is an annual celebration, organised by the Irish Donkey Welfare Organisation, and has become a firm, family favourite in the museum’s calendar of events.
The day will see a number of donkeys on site at Turlough Park and museum visitors will be able to meet the animals, watch farrier Mark Hester at work and learn about straw crafts with Pat Broderick.
According to Noel Campbell, Assistant Keeper at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, it is very fitting that the museum should focus on the donkey for a day because this animal played a hugely important role in Ireland’s agricultural history from the 1840s onwards.
“Small but sure-footed, immensely strong and affordable, the unassuming donkey became the beast of choice to work the small holdings and rough terrain of Ireland,” outlined Mr Campbell.
“The donkey lived the modest, hard-working life of its master, for which it was quietly admired. At their peak, almost 280,000 donkeys were labouring side-by-side with their owners in maintaining the Irish farm. That figure demonstrates the importance the donkey once had and why we remember its contribution to society here at the museum.”
Representatives from the Irish Donkey Welfare Organisation, Horse and Donkey Mayo Sanctuary and Sathya Sai Sanctuary will also be on hand throughout the day to answer any questions about the donkeys.

On Thursday, the award-winning walled heritage garden at the Jackie Clarke Collection building on Pearse Street in Ballina will host ‘From Baskets to Beasts’, from 11am to 4pm.
This event will deliver workshops, talks and children’s events all based around the flora and fauna growing in the garden. Talks and demonstrations will be given on the live willow, flowers and herbs along with interesting displays on the creatures and wildlife that lurk quietly beneath the scrubs. Visual displays will be placed around the garden with information about the medicinal and nutritional values of home-grown herbs to the story behind the beautiful oak exhibition wall. An oasis of green in Ballina, this garden is truly the only green space left at the heart of the town centre. Also on Thursday, over at the Mulranny Park Hotel from the 7.30pm to 8.30pm the Friends of Mayo Dark Skies are hosting a talk from Ireland’s leading expert, Prof Brian Espey of TCD Astrophysics Dept, about light pollution in Ireland and how we can solve this problem and retain the natural heritage of our night skies.
In 2016 Mayo Dark Sky Park received a gold tier International award for the quality of its night skies, free from light pollution. Prof Espey will speak about how our nightscape is disappearing rapidly yet it is a valuable asset. He believes preserving it helps us save energy, enhances biodiversity and benefits mental and physical wellbeing.

Back in Westport Library, on Friday morning at 10.15am, there will be a talk on Folklore by Dr Hugh Rowland of DCU, where the audience can learn how the public can contribute to the preservation of Ireland’s cultural heritage. Among the topics covered will be how to transcribe folklore from the 1930s with Meitheal Dú and how to record minor placenames with Meitheal One of the most successful crowdsourcing projects of its kind in the world, Meitheal Dú is an opportunity to transcribe folklore material collected by schoolchildren for the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s in Ireland.  More information is available online at Its sister site, Meitheal, encourages the recording and sharing of minor placenames such as field names, via a simple online form. The talk is aimed at encouraging the public to record such information to prevent its loss to future generations.
Clogher Heritage Centre is hosting a two-day seminar on Friday and Saturday with two important keynote speakers.  The seminar will commence on Friday at The Drum Inn, Clogher, Claremorris, where Dr Paul McNulty, University College Dublin will deliver a lecture on ‘The Mayo Lynches (including the Blosse Lynches)’ commencing at 8pm.
Paul McNulty is originally from Castlebar. He has studied ‘The genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway’ leading to the discovery of forgotten stories of late 18th century Ireland. This genealogy research persuaded Paul to write three historical novels: ‘Spellbound by Sibella’, ‘The Abduction of Anne O’Donnell’ and ‘The Bodkin Murders’. He has also published a play, ‘1798: A Rebel Romance’.
On Saturday, Dr Fiachra MacGabhann will present a talk at Clogher Heritage Centre on the ‘Place names of the Barony of Carra’ from 10.30am to 11.30am. This will also be a bilingual lecture by on the origins and meanings of Mayo placenames.Dr Fiachra MacGabhann has produced the largest book in the Irish language revealing the origins of placenames in County Mayo. His book ‘Logainmneacha Mhaigh Eo’ is a long-running study of approximately 3,500 townland and island names of County Mayo.
Following a break for tea/coffee there will be a guided bus tour of the historical and archaeological sites around Clogher from 12.30pm to 1.30pm with local Fáilte Ireland approved tour guide Brian Hoban.
This tour is strictly limited so advance booking is absolutely essential. There will be a nominal charge of €5 to cover cost of the bus. 
In the afternoon, there will be an opportunity to visit Clogher Heritage Centre, Newtown, Clogher at 2.30 where Brian Hoban, marine and countryside guide will deliver a presentation on life in rural Mayo in the late 19th and early 20th century and the role of the blacksmith in a rural community. For further information contact 094 9030687.

On Saturday at Ballycroy National Park Visitor Centre from 2.30pm to 3.30pm there will be a talk on the History and Folklore of the Birds of Ballycroy National Park, and surrounding areas, and on the final day of National Heritage Week there is another interesting event taking place in Kiltimagh.
From 3pm to 4pm the Moy Catchment Association/Glore Mill sustainable centre for biodiversity, energy, living will host an event that will show the importance of and how to improve ecology, fisheries and wildlife of the Moy Catchment.
Gary Smyth of the the Moy Catchment Association will speak on how to monitor, protect, promote the rivers of the Moy Catchment for biodiversity, recreation and education benefits for local community and tourists. He will also discuss the importance of and why the Moy Catchment is a (SAC) Special Area of Conservation for Atlantic Salmon as a ‘protected species’.

MORE For information on these events or any of the other events taking place up until next Sunday, see