Galway East Tourism scooped the top prize at the Galway County Heritage Awards, held in Claregalway last week.
Galway East Tourism was awarded the overall prize at the event for its Wayfinding Project, an innovative project to make the rich ecclesiastical and architectural heritage of east Galway available in a variety of new formats including MP3 audio files, satellite navigation technology, and PDF downloads from the project’s website at www.galwayeast.com/wayfinding This is a project designed in part to increase the value of a visitor’s stay in east Galway, but also to enlighten residents as to the beauty and importance of the built heritage on their doorstep.
The Galway County Heritage Awards recognises the heritage contribution of groups and individuals in each of the county’s five electoral areas in a number of categories.
“Our heritage belongs to each one of us and it is vital that it is valued and appreciated at a local level if we are to manage, preserve and protect it,” said Mayor of County Galway Peter Feeney, who presented the awards. “It is clear from the number, quality and calibre of the nominations for a County Heritage Award, that our built, natural and cultural heritage is valued at a local level.”
Laurencetown Community Enterprise Co received the top award for the Ballinasloe Electoral Area for its work in the preservation of 40 acres of raised bog in Lismany/Kylemore, about two miles from Laurencetown village. A five-year programme of works is planned to be carried out up to 2013 involving a 100 metre boardwalk built with funding from GRD, and this will be erected with the help of the Rural Social Scheme and Galway County Council.
The An tAthair Pádraig Eric MacFhinn and Monsignor Louis Page Commemoration Committee received the runner-up award in Ballinasloe for their work on the two great scholars of the area. An annual Irish Mass and lecture has been organised in Meelick Church for the last 10 years in honour of the two men, who were widely known and respected in County Galway as priests and scholars of Irish and history.
In Connemara the main prize went to Clifden Chamber of Commerce for its work in encouraging the preservation of local heritage. The chamber also works to increase the awareness of the wealth of local heritage through a series of annual heritage weekends.
Pádraic Ó Biadha of Leitir Meallain was also recognised for his work in collecting valuable jewels of heritage in the form of pictures of life, work, and heritage of the islands for the past 20 years. Thanks to Mr Ó Biadha’s efforts there is a collection of calendars available from the year 1989 to date on life in farming, fishing, customs, pastimes, emigration, youth, the elderly, traditional houses, beliefs, and cultural relics from the end of the 19th century that gives the reader an insight into the culture of the Gaeltacht for over 150 years.
The Aughty Gathering won the top award in the Loughrea Electoral Area. The Aughty Gathering has organised a heritage conference three years in succession for community groups in the neighbourhood and surrounds of the Slieve Aughty Mountains. Themes of genealogy, birds of the area, place names, and heritage of music of the area are discussed.
Ballindereen Music Group, a voluntary group who play together and teach others how to play musical instruments, was awarded second prize in Loughrea.
In Oranmore the Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society received the main award for its publication of two books telling the story of life in Claregalway over 750 years, which included a pictorial history of the people and life in Claregalway. In 2007 the group undertook a major project in the restoration of an old forge in the village. They are currently in the middle of a project to restore a carpenter’s workshop and link the two together in an interpretative centre.
The Headford District Association, which produced a colour brochure showing places of historic interest in the Headford area with photographs, description, and location map, received second prize in the area.
Dunmore Tidy Towns committee received the top prize in the Tuam area. The committee’s ‘Linear Park’ river walk project formally opened in March. The park, the result of six years’ work, provides a safe off-street link between residential, recreational, and commercial facilities. It is proposed to extend the walk westwards in the rural hinterland to join up with the BogWalk systems and link together Dunmore’s two main heritage sites — the abbey and the castle.
Moylough Tidy Towns received second prize for their work on the conservation of the Cloonoran Turlough, including providing information signs on all aspects of the turlough at the site and creating a huge awareness of the turlough. The committee worked with the local primary school in carrying out an environmental study and planting trees and wild flowers.
The main award for schools went to Scoil Mhuire, Doire Glinne, for their DVD Doire Glinne, Conamara, recounting a day at school in times past and produced in association with Brendan Smith of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute of NUI, Galway. Scoil Bhearna Dhearg was also awarded for pupils’ work on a scrapbook and DVD — Barnaderg, Killererin and the Golden Mile, made in association with Brendan Smith of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute of NUI Galway. St Oliver Plunkett National School in Newcastle was highly commended for an outstanding project celebrating 150 years in education.
Meitheal Leabhar Chill Éinde received the top award in the publications category for Cill Éinde — 100 Years, a chronicle marking 100 years since the construction of Cill Éinde church in An Spidéal. John Joe Conwell was also recognised for Hearts of Oak — The Rise to Glory of Portumna GAA Club, his third historical publication.