During Heritage Week, which ran from 12th to 20th August 2023, a series of events was held in Nenagh Historic & Cultural Quarter to celebrate ‘Living Heritage’, which was the theme for National Heritage Week. These events were free to the public and were supported by National Heritage Week and Tipperary County Council – Tipperary Heritage Office.
The events took place in the following venues:
- Nenagh Tourist Office & Visitor Centre
- Nenagh Heritage Centre
- Nenagh Courthouse
- Nenagh Castle
- Nenagh Arts Centre
- ‘The Store’, Hanley’s Place
The events at the Tourist Office, the Heritage Centre and Nenagh Courthouse were the result of collaboration between the venues and the programme for these was planned and co-ordinated by Victoria Lee, Nenagh Tourist Office.
Nenagh Arts Centre hosted a talk and photography walk of the Historic & Cultural Quarter with Kevin Lim which culminated in a number of stunning and unusual images of the heritage assets of the area being created. The Nenagh Streetscape Exhibition involved using recycled paper to create a collage of images within the outline of the key buildings of Nenagh. A number of workshops were held such as the ‘Stitching Up Workshop’ facilitated by outreach artist, Kay O’ Donoghue and workshops for children with wallpaper and paper making.
Nenagh Ormond Historical Society held an event at Nenagh Castle with a reading of the Butler/O’ Kennedy treaties and the Nenagh Players hosted lunchtime theatre sessions at The Store, Hanley’s Place.
The Court Services kindly permitted guided tours of Nenagh Courthouse including the inside of the Courthouse, the courtrooms, the cells and the underground tunnel. Michael Murphy (volunteer) led the tours and gave an insight into the history, architecture and usage of the Courthouse. This was a wonderful opportunity for many to view the inside of this prestigious building for the first time and there was a particular interest in the historic tunnel.
Guided tours of the Nenagh Gaol Gatehouse were also provided. Visitors had the opportunity to interact with ‘prisoners’ as they followed in the footsteps of the unfortunate people who met their fate at this location. Kerry told the story of Mary Cantwell, aged 14, imprisoned with her mother for stealing potatoes. Eamonn spoke of James Shea, imprisoned and later executed for the murder of Rody Kennedy while Matthew told the story of Daniel Crowe, transported to Australia for seven years for perjury. These were real stories and are just a sample of the histories recorded and told within the Heritage Centre. The tours were provided by Ger Maher & Libby Grey from Nenagh Heritage Centre and Michael Murphy, volunteer.
Young children were catered for during the week with a poetry reading and story session for very young children by Anne Hogan and storytime based on Irish myths & legends by Victoria Lee.
There was huge interest in the talk in Nenagh Tourist Office by Nora O’ Meara, M.A. Genealogy on ‘How to Trace Your North Tipperary Ancestry’. Another event which received a very favourable reaction was the talk on Irish Food by Peter Ward of Country Choice. Peter spoke particularly on brown bread making and cheese. This was followed by a demonstration of butter-making by Susan Carter and there was participation from the audience in doing the churning and forming the butter with the butter spades. Samples of all were available afterwards.
The events of the week finished up on Saturday with the ‘Living Museum’ in the grounds of Nenagh Castle. Here blacksmith Richard from Firefox Forge and wood turner Dee from Dee Synnott Woodcraft gave demonstration of their traditional craft skills. Kerry and Eamonn in medieval costumes greeted visitors to Nenagh Castle and spoke on living in the Castle and its history. Libby from Nenagh Heritage Centre had a display of artefacts from the many displays which are on show at Heritage Centre. Rosemary Joyce, Chairperson of Nenagh 800 Committee, gave guided tours of the Nenagh Historic & Cultural Quarter incorporating Nenagh Castle, the Castle Garden, St. Mary’s of the Rosary Church, St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, the Famine Pot, ‘In Contemplation of the Stars’ piece of public art, the Gaol Complex including the Governor’s House and Gatehouse, the Courthouse and the Statue of the Three Olympians.
The final event was ‘Dancing at the Crossroads’ with music and dance provided by Ned Kelly and Emma Fitzgerald along with some younger musicians and set dancers from Ballycommon Comhaltas. Sound and canopy were provided by Spain AV. Rain resulted in the event being moved indoors into the Tourist Office but it didn’t dampen the spirits. Two scouts from Galway who were travelling on foot around the country dropped by and joined in accordion playing and danced a Siege of Ennis.
Throughout the week 80 people completed the Nenagh Historic & Cultural Quarter Passport by gathering stamps for their visits to the Tourist Office, Nenagh Library, Nenagh Castle, Nenagh Arts Centre and Nenagh Heritage Centre. This included international visitors from the UK, USA and Brazil.
Overall a total of 588 people took part in the Nenagh Historic and Cultural Quarter events for Heritage Week 2023 and the feedback was very positive. The overall goal during heritage week was for people to explore and connect with our culture and heritage in a fun and interesting way. Providing events throughout the week rather than one single event proved very successful and enabled a wider audience to be reached. Already ideas for next year are being developed! Some of the comments from participants:
“Congratulations on the week, it was fantastic, so much to do, we took part in so many of the events, well done”. “Congratulations, well done, fabulous week”. “It was a brilliant week. A sincere thank you to all involved, a lot of planning went into it”.