Cork Open Heritage Day is a time to reconnect with our past

Ahead of Heritage Week, and Cork Heritage Open Day, Heritage Officer at Cork City Council Niamh Twomey tells us how they have adapted this year’s celebration, due to Covid-19
Cork Open Heritage Day is a time to reconnect with our past
Ruairí Harte and Sadhbh Ní Thuama at the launch of Cork Heritage Open Day, which is organised by Cork City Council and takes place on Saturday August 15. The festival is taking place virtually on www.corkheritageopenday.iePicture: Clare Keogh 

NATIONAL Heritage Week is one of Ireland’s largest cultural events and gives every citizen in the country the opportunity to reflect on our heritage and learn from our past.

Organised by the Heritage Council this year, National Heritage Week runs from Saturday, August 15 to Sunday, August 23. This year’s theme for National Heritage Week is ‘Heritage and Education’ where people are invited to examine the heritage on their doorstep, relearn skills from our heritage and explore the heritage of education.

Cork Heritage Open Day which is organised by Cork City Council in partnership with the Heritage Council is a wonderful celebration of built heritage in the city and will take place tomorrow, Saturday August 15. This year due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Cork Heritage Open Day is going virtual and we invite you to take an online adventure and explore many of the buildings usually open to the public for this event, using the website

To mark the start of Heritage Week and Cork Heritage Open Day, the website will go live tomorrow, Saturday August 15 and members of the public will be able to explore virtually some of Cork’s finest historic buildings including Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills, Blarney Castle, Fota House, Trinity Presbyterian Church, the Back Water Artists Building, St Peter’s Cork, the Custom House Port of Cork, Triskel Christchurch, the Crawford Art Gallery, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, the National Sculpture Factory, the Everyman and Fitzgerald House, home to the Cork Chamber.

Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer in Cork City Council
Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer in Cork City Council

Cork Heritage Open Day celebrates our built heritage and the story that these buildings tell. It tells the story of Cork and its struggles over time with famine, war, emigration and poverty and well as celebrating our great achievements, religious diversity, trading heritage and commercial successes. The current times in which we live is fraught with great change and uncertainty but we can learn and perhaps take comfort and confidence from our past which shows us that we are a resilient people and can overcome great difficulties and challenges such as those posed by the presence of COVID 19.

Cork Heritage Open Day encourages people to look up and to appreciate the heritage and history in their locality. Our city is steeped in history and people from Cork take great pride in the city’s buildings and the role they have played in shaping the history of Cork.

This year as part of Cork Heritage Open Day our website features wonderful archival footage of Cork and interviews with local historians and building owners who give their personal insights into what makes our city and its buildings so special.

Local Historian Liam O hÚigín speaks about growing up in the Middle Parish in Cork

Military Historian Gerry White discusses the life of Terence MacSwiney

Cllr. Kieran McCarthy gives a virtual tour of City Hall, one of Cork’s most splendid buildings which replaced the old City Hall that was destroyed in the Burning of Cork in 1920

Cork’s 96FM DJ Lorraine Murphy delves into the history of Broadcasting House which was dates back to 1888 and was home to the Vincentian Fathers and the Christian Brothers

Dr David Butler talks about Masonic Hall, home of Freemasonry in Cork since 1844

Denis McGarry discusses the Military Museum Collins Barracks which contains memorabilia associated with Michael Collins.

During lockdown, many people around the country – in both rural and urban environments – have developed a greater appreciation for their immediate surroundings. The restrictions have caused us to reconnect with, and reconsider what can be found in our immediate locality, from noticing birds and birdsong, and changing patterns among plants and wildlife as spring became summer, to local built heritage and monuments. Others have returned to traditional skills, be that baking, growing fruit and vegetables or handcrafts, like knitting and embroidery.

With so many of us holidaying at home, National Heritage Week and Cork Heritage Open Day offers new ideas and experiences to build on our renewed interest in heritage. While COVID-19 has impacted on Heritage Week events, there will still be lots of opportunities for people to take a dive into heritage: either by attending small, local events, or through online engagement.

It would be great to think that every single person, across the country, takes some time during Heritage Week and learns something about our past that can influence our future.

Many events and activities for Heritage Week are free of charge, including visits to OPW sites. For more information on Cork Heritage Open Day, log onto: For more information on Heritage Week, log onto:

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