The Adopt a Monument scheme has been launched with the objective of “recognising, preserving and celebrating heritage sites throughout Ireland. It is a way of bringing monuments into the heart of the community. Our heritage is rich and diverse so a monument can be anything including ringforts, lime kilns, sites associated with the travelling community, or modern sites.
For communities, the Adopt a Monument Scheme offers a way of promoting pride in our monuments. It also offers opportunities to develop and understand the story of your locality and to work collaboratively together.” From mentoring and training to assistance with funding applications and community events, the Heritage Council works in partnership to help to develop a deeper understanding of the monument and its place in the landscape. They aim to work with communities to create and implement bespoke plans for each adopted monument.
Since 2016 adopted monuments include sites such as Anglo Norman fortifications, medieval churches and graveyards and a walled garden, the Heritage Council is encouraging communities to define what a monument is. Some recent projects include: Leinster: New Crusher House, Baravore, Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow, an imposing two-storey building of cut stone granite built in 1859-60 to house a lead ore crusher. In 2016, The Adopt a Monument Scheme helped the community to liaise with the landowners to conserve and record the building and mining complex. In March 2017 a celebration weekend was held that involved tours of the valley, demonstrations by the stonemasons that carried out the conservation works, a small archaeological excavation of the floor of the building and children’s events. This successful weekend was aimed at celebrating the fantastic work that had been carried out to protect the building for future generations.
Connacht: The extensive eighteenth-century Mountbellew Walled Garden was once part of the large Bellew estate. The Mountbellew Heritage and Tourism Network sought to conserve the large limestone walls that surround the gardens, restore some of the original features of the gardens and establish allotments to help people to discover the heritage of the area. All of which provides opportunities for employment and tourism in the region.
Munster: Gallowshill, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford was adopted by a local group who wanted to find out more about the fascinating monument and to help raise awareness of this Anglo-Norman motte fort. In July 2016, and the community ran a successful Medieval Fair Day as part of Heritage Week to help raise awareness. The fantastic work of the group and their preparations for Heritage Week 2016 were featured on RTÉ Nationwide. The group also received training in how to tell the story of this important monument and they have since carried out extensive research on the story of the site.
Ulster: Doon Fort, Ardara, Co. Donegal is situated on a small island in the middle of Loughadoon. Doon Fort is a large drystone fort, thought to be the residence of the O’Boyle Chieftains. In 2016, funding was secured to commission an environmental and conservation report of the site. In addition to this, with Heritage Council funding, the Adopt a Monument Scheme facilitated a digital site survey, advised the group on the management of the vegetation threatening to undermine the walls, and helped to raise awareness of this historic landmark. Now in its fourth year, the Adopt a Monument scheme offers communities a way of promoting pride in local sites of heritage. It has already presented a wealth of benefits to the participating communities, including encouraging members to get active in the outdoors, galvanising local community spirit and providing a boost to tourism and local employment opportunities.
Since the launch of the scheme, 150 entries have been received with 13 sites across the country selected to become adopted monuments. Speaking in support of the scheme Ian Doyle, Head of Conservation at the Heritage Council, said: “The Adopt a Monument scheme recognises the role of communities in caring for heritage. Stronger relationships with heritage sites provide a sense of belonging for communities across Ireland. We encourage people to think outside the box when applying to the scheme and really push the boundaries of what we consider a monument to be. If it matters to your community, we want to hear about it”.
To nominate a local monument please visit www.heritagecouncil.ie