The passionate energy with which local communities participate in the National Heritage Week in Ireland has once again been highlighted through the Heritage Council Heritage Awards. Recognising the excellence in heritage protection, conservation and enhancement, this annual initiative honours the work of dedicated enthusiasts and communities who help make a difference in the Irish heritage sector.
Every year, dozens of nominees are chosen in four categories relevant to enhancing awareness and appreciation of Irish cultural treasures. Through Heritage Hero Award, Hidden Heritage Award, Reaching Out Award and Cool for Kids Award, the Awards celebrate community involvement, as well as projects dedicated to uncovering Ireland’s hidden heritage, reaching out to new audiences and encouraging youth participation in European Heritage Days.
Announced in February 2017, the list of the 2016 winners features people and projects that have contributed to building heritage communities and preserving Irish cultural treasures. Among the winners, Edgeworthstown’s long-time heritage enthusiast is a positive example of how willingness and dedication can help revive local histories and make them relevant to present-day generations.
Ireland’s Heritage Hero: Matt Farrell
Working on a number of heritage initiatives over the last few decades, Matt Farrell was looking to make his town “a centre of universe,” as he stated in one of the interviews following the award. Most recently, he has helped establish the Edgeworth Heritage trail, which includes Edgeworthstown House and Walled Garden, St. John's Rectory, as well as St.Johns Graveyard and Church.
His project involved years of research and conservation work, which helped protect one of Edgeworth’s unique heritage sites from decay. In a special Heritage Week interview, Farrell recounts the history of his efforts to bring back to the community, explaining why this is important for him and for all the people of Edgeworth.
Farrell’s dedication and enthusiasm to preserve his local heritage have inspired admiration in the local community and he is justifiably seen as a true Irish Heritage Hero. Congratulating him on the prestigious recognition by the Heritage Council, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, pointed out:
“The individuals, professionals and community groups, many of whom are volunteers, who work tirelessly to protect and preserve our heritage, are the backbone of the heritage sector.”
By promoting Farrell’s story and the stories of many like-minded people in Ireland, the Heritage Council encourages individuals and communities across the country to take part in similar initiatives and help preserve their local heritage for future generations. Together with the other award winners, Mr. Farrell is a driver of change that needs to take place on a local level to ensure long and stable future of Irish cultural heritage.