2/5/23: Wildlife, local economies and tourism to benefit as Heritage Council announces €1.6m worth of funding for projects.
Funding for 137 projects, under the Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant Scheme which will help to conserve and restore built, cultural and natural heritage throughout the country, will be issued to grant recipients this year.
Work on these projects can begin immediately which will see hundreds of local communities enriched through initiatives, from making previously unseen works of art available to the public, to equipping local communities with skills needed to protect biodiversity, to making landmarks of national significance accessible again. The projects will all be completed by the end of the year.
Following its call for applications, the Heritage Council received hundreds of proposals from those who care for our heritage, heritage volunteers, community groups and organisations.
Amongst them was the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation. Glencree is delighted to have been selected as one of the Heritage Council’s award 2023 recipients. Nestled in the heart of the Glencree Valley in County Wicklow, Glencree is a unique and significant heritage site as well as world-renowned Peace Centre.
Situated in an area of wild natural beauty on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, the site has experienced four rich eras of heritage: First established as a British Army Military barracks to stave off the Irish rebellion, it then developed into a Reformatory school for boys in post-famine Ireland, run by the Oblate Order, fast forward then to post-WWII when Glencree welcomed and cared for ‘Operation Shamrock’ refugee children from Germany and Austria, and then in 1974 when the was chosen for the development of a Peace Centre by Una O'Higgins O'Malley, daughter of the Irish state’s first Minister for Justice Kevin O’Higgins who was assassinated while in office, as Una’s response to the escalating Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Glencree is both a local, national and international heritage resource. While Glencree has many stories to tell and interesting and important eras of heritage to share with the public, it is also an important contemporary heritage resource. The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation has lessons of national and international importance from its role in facilitating and mediating the back channel which led to the Good Friday Agreement and is now very active in facilitating dialogue across Northern Ireland, as well as between North/South and across the UK and Ireland’s communities and political leadership. This grant will support the sensitive and inclusive interpretation of the site and the development of these stories for the public’s benefit, while also ensuring information and education for the next generation of peace builders.
The Heritage Council Community Grant scheme supports projects aimed at improving access and inclusion to heritage sites. Through the support of this grant, Glencree will work with Tandem interpretative design consultancy to create an inclusive interpretative ‘storytelling’ design and vision for the site. Glencree wants to welcome people from all sections of society to learn about the Glencree heritage story and the lessons of peace and reconciliation the Peace Centre is custodian to as it moves towards its 50th year anniversary in 2024.
“On behalf of the Glencree team, I am delighted to accept this generous Community Award grant from The Heritage Council,” said Naoimh McNamee, Glencree CEO. “Through the support of the Heritage Council, Glencree will work with Tandem interpretative design consultancy to create an inclusive interpretative ‘storytelling’ design and vision for the historical site of Glencree.”
“We want to welcome people from all walks of life across the island to learn about Glencree’s intriguing heritage, as well as the key lessons of peace and reconciliation that we can share from our work on the Northern Ireland Peace Process. As we move towards Glencree @ 50 in 2024, fifty years since the Peace Centre was founded in 1974, there has never been a better time to explore all that Glencree has to offer,” Naoimh McNamee added.
Some other wonderful recipients have been selected. Though many people will be familiar with the last of Ireland’s wandering bards, Antoine Ó Raifteirí, fewer will be familiar with his final resting place at Killeeneen Cemetery in Galway. The blind itinerant poet was an inspiration to the likes of Douglas Hyde, W.B Yeats and Lady Gregory, who in 1900 erected a memorial stone over his grave. The Reilig na bhFilí group has been offered almost €22,000 to make the graveyard more accessible for visitors through careful conservation.
Once a focal point in every Irish town and village, the old Telecom Éireann phone box kiosks became obsolete with the dawn of the mobile phone era. Some do remain, however, and have been put to good use again in the most creative ways. With support from Heritage Council funding, visitors to The Séamus Ennis Arts Centre in the Naul Co. Dublin will be able to use the telephone kiosk there to enjoy an interactive experience on the life and work of Séamus Ennis, the cultural heritage of the region and its local history.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, said: “Every year, I love to see the creativity and dedication of our heritage sector through these projects from the Community Heritage Grant Scheme. It reminds me that despite the challenges we face, our heritage remains in safe hands. It is a truly valuable scheme and is also a significant investment in this Government’s commitments under the Programme for Government to promote and protect our heritage.”
Chairperson of The Heritage Council, Martina Moloney, said: “Heritage Council funding for the Community Heritage Grant Scheme has more than tripled since 2020 and the quality of the projects awarded funding is ample justification for this enhanced support. In many cases, the beneficiary of the work being carried out is the public, who will be able to access newly digitised resources and enjoy newly restored buildings, objects and natural heritage sites of national significance.”
Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said: “Our recently published Strategic Plan, Our Place in Time, acknowledges the pivotal role that community groups play as custodians of our national heritage and we are committed to ensuring that funding streams are in place to support communities to care for heritage and habitats. We will continue to run the Community Heritage Grant Scheme but will also develop new schemes which adapt to the needs of the sector as they evolve. For now, though, I wish to congratulate all the grantees and look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour later in the year.”
A full list of recipients under the Community Heritage Grant Scheme is available here.
The Glencree Centre (www.glencree.ie) is dedicated to transforming violent conflict and building peaceful, inclusive societies across the island of Ireland, within Northern Ireland, between Ireland and the UK, and internationally. Established in 1974 in response to the conflict in Northern Ireland, Glencree has played a key role in the peace process bringing together those in conflict for confidential dialogue and building relationships across divides. Today, we work with victims and survivors in Northern Ireland; women from marginalised communities who experience political conflict/violence, migrants, refugees, and members of ethnic and faith minority communities; students and young adults north and south of the border; and policymakers, politicians, diplomats and civil society leaders who work to find solutions for sustainable peace. Glencree also continues to share learnings in conflict and post-conflict societies internationally.
Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation
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The Heritage Council:
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