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From dinosaurs to warrior scarecrows: 16 intriguing events to check out this National Heritage Week

There’s plenty of fun to be had and unusual sights to see as the annual heritage week kicks off.

THE WEATHER FORECAST for the weekend isn’t fantastic – but once again there’s plenty to see and do as National Heritage Week takes place at locations around the country (some of which thankfully have roofs). 

Heritage week is a yearly celebration of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage and aims to promote an awareness and appreciation of those resources. But if all of that sounds a bit serious don’t worry – there’s a lot of fun to be had as well.  

It’s taking place between today and next Sunday, 25 August. You can search for events in your own area here and we’ve put together a selection of the more intriguing happenings below. 

  • Beware of the dinosaurs: A great one for the kids… There’s a family-friendly Geotastic Extravaganza at Slieve Gullion Forest Park near Newry in Co Armagh. Dinosaur shows on repeat are being promised. Today, from 11am to 5pm
  • Medieval Day: A free medieval-themed family fun day in Wexford’s Walled Town. Viking shield making, falconry, pottery making and guided walks, Today from 12pm to 5pm
  • Barge on: Fancy cruising above the River Liffey? This one-hour cruise from Sallins to the Leinster Aqueduct includes a short history talk. Co Kildare. Running throughout heritage week except Monday and Tuesday 
  • The bells, the bells: Every fancied learning more about bellringing? There are regular bellringing tours of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin running throughout heritage week. Various times
  • Anyone for seaweed? Organisers are promising a chance to learn more about the seaweed on the shore of Cork’s Whiddy Island, and you can also try your hand at “preserving specimens 1800s style”. At the Ellen Hutchins Festival on Whiddy Island. 18 August at 1pm

shutterstock_1461278372 Barge trips run from Sallins in Co Kildare to the nearby aqueduct. Shutterstock / noel bennett Shutterstock / noel bennett / noel bennett

  • The Games We Played: Ever played Pins or Teetum Totum? It’s set to be a rainy afternoon tomorrow so this event at Kilteevan Community Centre, based on games recorded in the parish’s 1938 folklore collection seems like a decent option if you’re in the area. Co Roscommon, 18 August, 3pm to 5pm
  • Woodford Furnace Festival: Yes … a furnace festival. A water-powered blast furnace was built in Woodford in 1681 – so there’s a rich, centuries-old history of blacksmithing in the Co Galway town. You’ll have a chance to watch some blacksmiths in action at this event. 19 to 25 August, from 10am each day  
  • Graffiti bridge: An illustrated public talk on Civil War graffiti discovered by archeologists ahead of the demolition of a bridge near Doonbeg. Clare County Museum, Ennis. 21 August at 8pm 
  • Offaly’s got talons: See Ireland’s native birds of prey – including owls, kestrels, hawks and ravens – up close in this free event with Raven Hall Aviaries at Ferbane Library in Co Offaly (also at other locations during the week). 22 August at 6pm 

shutterstock_1220099740 Shutterstock / JonathanFilm Shutterstock / JonathanFilm / JonathanFilm

  • Small castles. Kids (hopefully including a few older ones or this could be chaos) are teaming up to help build a scale model of Burt Castle. Newtowncunningham Orange Hall, Co Donegal. 20 to 22 August at 10am 
  • Cameras and Chemistry: Harry Pakenham-Mahon, owner of Strokestown Park House in the late 1800s, was a camera nut at time when there were few cameras on the island. His darkroom will be open as part of this demonstration and talk – and you can also view early slide projections. Co Roscommon. Today and 23 August  
  • The cures: Many people once believed that illnesses, diseases, and ailments were caused by supernatural beings. Lora O’Brien is promising an unusual talk on old Irish cures. It’s “not for the faint hearted”, apparently . Carrickmacross Library, Co Monaghan. 23 August at 7.30pm 
  • Bat walk: Learn more about Ireland’s most mysterious mammals with field ecologist Harm Deenan. From 8pm at JFK Memorial Park and Arboretum in Co Wexford. Fri 23 August

shutterstock_1151510945 Burt Castle, Co Donegal Shutterstock / Niall F Shutterstock / Niall F / Niall F

  • The Earl of Meath: Learn about the Brabazon family’s involvement with the development of the Liberties in Dublin at this free talk and tour of Kilruddery House and Gardens in Co Wicklow. 24 August, 12pm to 1pm
  • The warrior scarecrow festival. Warrior scarecrows, music, afternoon tea and “tales from a bygone era”. Taking place at Strandhill in Co Sligo on 25 August from 2pm to 5pm 

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