National Heritage Week 2023

National Heritage Week, which took place from 12-20 August, has wrapped up for another year. The week saw a colourful range of events and projects celebrating all aspects of our heritage take place across the county as communities, families, holiday makers and people of all ages and backgrounds were encouraged to get out and explore their heritage. Close to 60 events took place to great success across Kilkenny City and County.

National Heritage Week is a Heritage Council Programme and the theme for this year was ‘Living Heritage’ which is defined as the practices, knowledge and skills that have been passed from one generation to the next, and are still in use today and the past week in Kilkenny saw some excellent examples of this theme in action. A Meitheal in Rathbeagh organised by the Acorn Project attracted a sold-out crowd on Saturday 12th as a day of scything with Chris Hayes and a farmland pollinator walk with Dr. Fiona MacGowan was enjoyed by all. There was also a beautiful exhibition of original photographs, taken from Donovan Silversmiths’ private collection, showcasing creations from the Donovan Workshop spanning over 50 years and three generations in Thomastown throughout the week.

The crowd gathered at the City Walls Tour organised by Kilkenny County Council Heritage Office for Heritage Week. Photo Credit: Róisín O’Sullivan


Highlights of this year’s programme included a Tour de Force of the City Walls delivered by Archaeologist Cóilín Ó Drisceoil to a captivated crowd of over 70 participants organised by Kilkenny County Council Heritage Office. This event took place in recognition of funding received from the Heritage Council to install new interpretive plaques on five additional locations on the city walls. A Holy Wells Story Sharing Session at Johnswell also engaged the imagination of those gathered as stories were shared and recorded about local holy well traditions for the Heritage Council funded Holy Wells Survey of County Kilkenny. There was standing room only at a Barn Owl Talk at the Rivercourt Hotel given by John Lusby form Birdwatch Ireland and organised by Kilkenny County Council’s new Biodiversity Officer, Bernadette Maloney. Kilkenny Libraries did not disappoint with a wide-ranging and engaging programme of events from Biodiversity Walks to Genealogy one-to-one sessions; a whistle-stop review of the Decade of Centenaries given by Eoin Swithin Walsh and a reminder of times passed by Anne Karoline Distel who delivered a workshop on mapping milk churn stands at Castlecomer Library. Larry Scallan flew the military heritage flag with pride leading groups through Kilkenny in 1923 each evening of Heritage Week and also with tours of the Museum at James Stephens Barracks.

John Lusby, BirdWatch Ireland with Minister Malcolm Noonan, Bernadette Moloney, Biodiversity Officer with Kilkenny County Council and Members of the Kilkenny Branch of BirdWatch Ireland at the Barn Owl Talk in the Rivercourt Hotel during Heritage Week. Left to Right – Cllr John Coonan, Pat Durkin, Bernadette Moloney, Richie Dwyer, John Lusby, Minister Malcolm Noonan, Mary Durkin, Daelyn Purcell, Nicky Murphy, Carmelita Murphy, Ian McCullagh. Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan


Enjoying Heritage Week at Boland Mill. Back row Denis Drennan, Director Nore Vision, Alan Sullivan, Ecologist, Ken Boland, Bolands Mill, Mags Morrissey, Nore Vision Project Leader; Front Olivia Goodwillie, director Nore Vision, Sarah Rubalcava, Nore Vision Project Officer. Photo Credit Dylan Vaughan


Kilkenny Castle hosted a range of free tours in different languages and also a sensory tour and a wonderful archaeology workshop for kids along with sketching sessions. Visitors to Rothe House had the pleasure of guided tours of the garden and a lecture on the Ros Tapestry and of course the Medieval Mile Museum delighted attendees with stories of gravedigging, cats and witches! St Canice’s Cathedral collected memories of the Cathedral and enthralled children at their storytelling events. The Nore River Catchment Trust held a fascinating range of workshops and talks on eel monitoring and our Milling Heritage while the Local Authorities Water Programme delighted visitors with a day of events in Graiguenamanagh for Water Heritage Day on 20th August.

Maura Brennan leads a Biodiversity Walk organised by Thomastown Library for Heritage Week. Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan

Regina Fitzpatrick, Heritage Officer at Kilkenny County Council commented ‘The week was a wonderful celebration of our heritage in Kilkenny and showcased the dedicated guardians of that heritage in communities across our county. Heritage Week was embraced by so many local communities such as The Rower, Tullahought, Thomastown, Pilltown, Ennisnag, Kells, Mullinavat, Castlecomer, Callan to name but a few and it was heartening to see such large attendances out enjoying their local heritage, among them our Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan who came along to support so many of the events taking place.’


Barn Owl Talk with John Lusby

Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan


Recording Milk Churn Stands Talk 

Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan

Biodiversity Walk led by Maura Brennan 

Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan

City Walls delivered by Archaeologist Cóilín Ó Drisceoil

Photo Credit: Róisín O’Sullivan


Holy Wells of Kilkenny – Talk and Story Sharing, Johnswell

Photo Credit: Róisín O’Sullivan


History of Milling at Boland’s Mill, King’s River

Photo Credit: Dylan Vaughan


Poetry By The Barrow

Photo Credit: Róisín O’Sullivan