It’s not a party without a singsong. It’s not a cup of tea unless it’s Barry’s and it’s not a Sunday without a roast. It’s only fair when it’s ‘fair good’ (that’s if you’re from the country) and only Christmas Eve when you’ve gone ‘for one.’ It’s pride in your country when you hear Amhrán na bhFiann and fire in your belly when you win the Dan Breen. It’s a lift of a finger as you cross the road and a nod of the head as you’re saying hello. It’s the green, green grass and long country roads or the dry-stone walls in County Mayo. It’s that feeling of patriotism as you look at the GPO. The tin whistle, the bodhrán, the fiddle and the harp. The Fields of Athenry, the Cranberries and Molly Malone.
We hear them, we see them, we think of home. It’s our culture and it’s our heritage. These are things that make us who we are and influence who we are going to be. Without them, we are just another group of people on another piece of land.
M-CO are proud to have worked on a number of projects with clients including the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Waterways Ireland, Historic Houses of Ireland, South Dublin County Council and the Heritage Council of Ireland, supporting the development and maintenance of Ireland’s heritage.
M-CO’s Simon O’Rafferty has led many of our heritage projects and he believes that “heritage connects us to the past, creating a sense of place and change over time rather than nostalgia or hyper-nationalism. Heritage creates a space to reflect on the future.”
Speaking of the future… past, and present…
From the 13th to the 22nd of August, Ireland will celebrate National Heritage Week 2022 with an overarching theme of sustainability given to the occasion. We agree that heritage should be synonymous with sustainability as it is core to the preservation of our heritage, for us, and for future generations.
So, as we celebrate Heritage Week 2022, we want to share with you some simple ways you and your community can honour Ireland’s heritage and continue to incorporate Irish tradition into your every day in sustainable ways.
Here are our top three tips:
Music: You can’t think of Ireland without thinking of music. From the harp to the bodhrán, Irish heritage is steeped in lyrical and instrumental alliance.
Our relationship with music is long and meaningful. During times of hardship and simplicity, Irish village people would use music and storytelling as a source of entertainment. Nowadays, the equivalent can be found scattered across the country in local pubs in the form of trad sessions and our annual Fleadh Cheoil.
- Organise your own trad session in your local village or town. Use Facebook and other types of social media to create local trad groups to encourage community engagement.
Sport: As Ireland’s most popular field of sports (pardon the pun), the GAA is intrinsic to our cultural heritage. So much so, that in 2018, hurling and camogie were given cultural heritage status by UNESCO. Dating back almost 150 years, the GAA has earned its place as one of Ireland’s most valued cultural assets.
- As suggested by M-CO’s very own sports enthusiast Harry Seymour, if there’s one way to honour and ensure a sense of cultural heritage, it’s to get involved with your local GAA. Whether that’s bringing your child to training, signing up yourself, or going along to support, being part of your local GAA club is the perfect way to engage with and sustain local cultural heritage. For a full list of GAA clubs across the country, see HERE.
Language: You can’t think of Irish heritage without thinking about the iconic Irish men and women of the 1916 era. One of those icons, Pádraig Pearse, knew then what we should know now, “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.”
Language is a fundamental part of cultural identity. It is a chalice for pride, expression, history, and purpose. The Gaelic language is one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe, however, as it stands, we aren’t protecting it in the way that it deserves.
The CSO reported in 2016 that only 39.8% of our population speaks our national language. Even under the safeguarding of the Irish Constitution, Article 8.1 “the Irish language as the national language is the first national language”, with far less than half the country declaring themselves as Irish speakers, the ‘first language’ title may need to be challenged.
However, there is hope and there are ways each of us can ensure our beautiful Gaeilge remains a vital part of our cultural heritage.
- Substitute English soaps, American movies, and Netflix documentaries for TG4 programmes at least once a week. Turn on subtitles if needed and start to become familiar with the lyrical tone of the Irish language.
- Take an Irish language course – there are many online and in-person Irish-language courses available for both beginners and more advanced Irish speakers. See some of our suggestions below:
- Encourage an appetite for Gaeilge in your children by enrolling them in summer Gaeltacht programmes. Not only is this a fantastic way to learn the Irish language but also a fantastic opportunity to be immersed in Irish culture as teens get the chance to enjoy a couple of weeks’ lodging with a ‘Bean an Tí’.
Shining a whole other light on heritage, M-CO’s Marie Gordon said,
“Heritage suggests for me a wealth of history and experience linked to a place or geographical location and how we capture, celebrate, and learn from that. Whether it be through protecting wildlife and buildings or educating about cultural practices steeped in history. For example, if we consider our peatland with regard to heritage, there is an important story to be told about the communities built around peat extraction. There is inspiration to be drawn from their bog restoration abilities and there are lessons to be learned from the impact that different historical practices had on the landscape.”
So, as you go on to enjoy the rest of National Heritage Week 2022, keep in mind the theme of sustainability given to the occasion and consider what that really means. Make the most of Heritage Week by getting involved in the hundreds of activities taking place across the country (full list of activities available here) but also try to make sure your appreciation and pride in Ireland’s heritage is celebrated not just this week, or any one week, but every day. By making a conscious effort to get to know your country’s past, its rituals and historical customs, and finding ways of bringing them into your every day through music, sports, food, clothing, and interactions, together we can ensure Ireland’s heritage is protected for years and generations to come.
Happy National Heritage Week 2022 from M-CO.