Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, speaking at the launch of Heritage Week 2019
A dhaoine uaisle, dia dhaoibh anocht.
Míle buíochas a Michael agus Viriginia as ucht cuireadh a thabhairt dom teacht anocht.
It gives me great pleasure to be here with you to launch Heritage Week 2019.
As this year’s theme is Pastimes, Past Times, we couldn’t be in a more fitting venue tonight than 14 Henrietta Street.
This inspirational restoration has given Dubliners an essential connection to the city’s past, to both the splendour and the squalor.
In ‘Dubliners’, James Joyce evocatively writes of Chandler walking ‘swiftly down Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and the air had grown sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood or ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or squatted like mice upon the thresholds.’
While tenement life could be hard, there were undoubtedly lighter moments too. The sound of children’s laughter would have resonated off the cobbles beneath their feet. The street was the playground of the past.
The hundreds of children who lived on this street played the same games as children all across the country: skipping, football and hopscotch played with chalked-out lines and a shoe polish tin. On Henrietta Street, as on other streets, roads and boreens across the country, children were free to explore every crack and crevice of their imaginations.
The influence of heritage on our own childhood pastimes was subtle and seeped into us almost unnoticed. Our surroundings and landscape provided a canvas for our imaginations to create without us ever thinking about it.
This year’s Heritage Week theme of Pastimes, Past Times allows us to reflect, and draw inspiration from these games and hobbies.
As a mother of two teenage boys I’m particularly looking forward to Wild Child Day, on Wednesday the 21st of August. Ireland’s today’s tech-savvy children will be encouraged to step away from their phones and tablets to explore the magic of the outdoors and the wonderful places that their imaginations can bring them. Of course we’ll be happy to see them post online about their experiences afterwards as long as they use the right hashtag!
Heritage Week is central to the promotion of our natural, built and cultural heritage as it builds awareness and educates us about our surroundings in order to aid their conservation and preservation. The programme this year stretches right across the island and encourages communities to become engaged with every aspect of our heritage.
From traditional games, to crafts to dancing to story-telling, there is something for everyone.
I would like to congratulate the Heritage Council, and the huge numbers of local organisers across the country, on compiling yet another rich and imaginative programme of events for this year’s celebration. I commend Virginia Teehan and her team for the hard work they’ve clearly put in.
A vital link in the heritage chain is our Heritage Officers, and I want to congratulate them on the 20th anniversary of the Heritage Officers Programme this year. I would also like to pay tribute to the thousands of event organisers and local volunteers who year on year help to make Heritage Week such a success, and of course to the OPW, our national cultural institutions, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, who do so much to protect and promote our heritage year-round.
This Government is firmly committed to investing in heritage. Project Ireland 2040 will see an investment of over €285m in our built and natural heritage over the coming seven years. I was in a position to increase funding for Built and Natural Heritage in this year’s budget by 15%. This included an extra €200k for the expansion of the hugely popular Heritage in Schools project.
Before the end of the year I look forward to launching our new national heritage plan, Heritage Ireland 2030. The fact that we received over 2,000 submissions shows the importance of heritage in Irish life.
It is up to us all to cherish and protect our heritage and to ensure that, as society changes, our heritage continues to live and breathe and be at the heart of our communities, our society and our nation. Being with you here tonight, I’m convinced that it is in very safe hands.
Ádh mór ar gach duine atá ag glacadh páirt i Seachtain Oidhreachta Náisiúnta 2019.