Office of Public Works Celebrates National Heritage Week 2021


The Office of Public Works (OPW) is celebrating National Heritage Week from 14th-22nd August by opening ‘the Door to Heritage’, writes Shauna McCrudden 

Jane Howley (8) at Trim Castle. Photo: Naoise Culhane, courtesy of the Office of Public Works

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is opening the doors wide at its heritage sites all around the country during National Heritage Week from 14th to 22nd August. They are inviting everybody to experience local heritage through a programme of special tours and events.

National Heritage Week is co-ordinated by the Heritage Council as part of European Heritage Days – a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union in which more than 40 countries participate each year. The main aim of European Heritage Days is to promote awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage and to promote Europe’s common cultural heritage.

Embracing this year’s message to ‘Open the Door to Heritage’, OPW guides from Dublin to Galway and from Donegal to Kinsale look forward to welcoming visitors of all age groups through the doors of national monuments and historic houses. Visitors can explore the heritage of their sites through workshops and events organised in parks and gardens. While most activities over the course of the coming week are happening on-site, some can be enjoyed online by audiences near and far.

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Patrick O’Donovan, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, welcomed the news of the week-long programme, “As an official partner of National Heritage Week, the OPW is delighted to promote inclusivity and participation in local heritage by all at its heritage sites. I believe the free admission to all OPW heritage sites agreed in line with the Government’s recovery and reopening plan provides an excellent opportunity to discover heritage sites in your own area, as well as further afield. 

“OPW staff have created a wonderful schedule of events over the summer. Next week, in particular, holds an abundance of activities for young and old in-store, which allow you to find out more about our built heritage as well as the natural landscape around it.”

Announcing details of the range of events running nationwide, OPW Chairman Maurice Buckley noted, “Since the reopening of heritage sites and the easing of restrictions earlier this year, the OPW has been pleased to welcome visitors again to its heritage sites across Ireland. They are unique visitor attractions and offer cultural and recreational amenities to tourists and local communities alike. 

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“National Heritage Week provides a special focus each year for community engagement through inclusive and creative activities. The OPW invites everybody to come and enjoy the diverse offerings at our heritage sites, whether in your local area or on your holidays in Ireland.”

With the incentive of free admission to all OPW heritage sites this year, many visitors have already happily heeded the call to open the door to heritage on their staycations this summer and can look forward to additional events and programmes taking place across OPW heritage sites during National Heritage Week. Highlights include:

  • Plenty of family-focused activities, from a family-friendly tour of Glendalough’s monastic site to a treasure hunt for the key to Portumna Castle’s door. From a forestry workshop at Kilkenny Castle and tree detective activities in Farmleigh to arts and craft workshops in Dungarvan Castle and Charles Fort.
  • A host of special tours of historic interiors as well as gardens and arboreta, sharing information about the rich history, collections and interesting connections that make each heritage site unique.
  • Three short and entertaining outdoor plays staged by Shiva Productions at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin and Kilmacurragh.
  • Two novel walking tours exploring the ‘lost prisons’ on Dublin’s southside and northside respectively, organised by the Curator of Kilmainham Gaol.
  • Online offers include podcasts, live-streamed events and a series of beautiful musical recordings in the serene settings of Sligo Abbey and Parke’s Castle.
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The activities organised for Heritage Week are free with the exception of the plays staged at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin and Kilmacurragh. However, pre-registration for events is essential to comply with Covid-19 guidelines. 

A full list of the OPW sites and their events for National Heritage Week is available at along with additional information on each site, including opening times, booking requirements and contact details





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