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Archaeologist brings Ireland's heritage to life in new audio guide

Irish archaeologist Neil Jackman says wanted to “create something positive” when he found himself unemployed – and so he rounded up a talented team to bring Ireland’s history to life.

The Abarta team at work
The Abarta team at work
Image: Abarta Audio Guides

AN IRISH ARCHAEOLOGIST has launched a new audio tourism guide to colourfully explain the history of sites across Ireland and promote the country’s incredible heritage.

Neil Jackman, archaeologist and director of Abarta Audio Guides, says his team has created a series of audio guides for some of Ireland’s best known heritage sites and events – including the 1916 Rising, Clonmacnoise, Dun Aonghasa, The Rock of Cashel and Glendalough.

Jackman says he got the idea for the guides after becoming unemployed: “As the fortunes of the archaeological profession were so closely linked to that of the construction industry, the recession hit archaeologists particularly hard,” says Jackman.

“Like so many others, I found myself unemployed, so along with others in a similar boat we decided that providing tourism products for heritage sites could be a good way of continuing to promote Ireland’s incredible heritage. Sometimes when you are unemployed you start focusing just on yourself, without realising that you can combine your skills with others to create something positive.”

Listen to some samples of the audio guides below:

The guides, which are available as downloadable mp3 files and smartphone applications, give lively descriptions of key events and places in Irish history by combining facts, dates and information with stories illustrating how life would have been in those times.

“History is not just about strong men and great battles, you also need to hear the little sidebar stories to illustrate the lives of the ordinary people that lived in exceptional times and places,” said Jackman. “While we enjoy a well-made documentary, we’re also partial to a bit of Coronation Street or the Sopranos. Along with being informative, history should also be entertaining, you should get to hear of all the twists and turns”.

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‘A big and somewhat terrifying gamble’

The team behind Abarta is made up of a range of talented people from Ireland and the UK, including Tipperary actress and voice artist Aideen Wylde, sound engineer Rob Laird, musician Enda Seery – who provided all of the original music used in the guides – and a freelance music and sound designer Gavin Harrison.

Jackman said the South Tipperary Development Company helped to part fund Abarta’s feasibility study, which returned positive results and encouraged them to “(scrape) together whatever savings we had and try and do something positive with it rather than watching it slowly erode in a bank.”

“It’s a big and somewhat terrifying gamble, but we really hope that customers love what we do,” he said.

Abarta Audio Guides are available from abartaheritage.ie; each guide costs €1.99 and ranges from 30-50 minutes in duration.

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