Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible Cultural Heritage

In December 2015 Ireland ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.  Intangible cultural heritage ‘refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity’.

As part of Ireland’s obligations under the Convention a national inventory for intangible cultural heritage is being developed. As a first step, the Department convened an interim advisory group, comprising representatives from the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, together with the National Monuments Service and Arts Division of the Department, to advise on the implementation of the Convention in Ireland. Following a recommendation of the advisory group, the Minister approved Uilleann Piping and Hurling for inclusion on the interim National Intangible Cultural Inventory. Both of the concerned organisations, Na Píobairí Uilleann and the GAA, are also working closely with the Department to prepare and support the State applications to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

As part of the 2003 Convention, UNESCO maintains a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity to which member states may make submissions. Ireland has submitted two applications in respect of Uilleann Piping and Hurling. The assessment process is underway and we await a decision in respect of Uilleann Piping in November 2017. The Hurling application will be considered in the 2018 process, with an anticipated decision timeframe of November 2018.

In tandem with both of these applications the Memory of the World Division of UNESCO are considering the application of the archive papers of the Irish Folklore Commission Collection (IFCC) for ‘memory of the world status’. A decision from their international expert group, currently examining the archives, is anticipated in September 2017. Should recognition of ‘memory of the world status’ be approved for the IFCC collection it will join our national treasure the Book of Kells, which is the only other item which holds this designation.

Date Reference Element
22nd February 2016 NIICH – 001 Uilleann Piping
22nd February  2016 NIICH – 002 Hurling

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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