The Heritage Council has awarded €207,550 in funding for thirteen heritage initiatives in County Donegal to community groups throughout the county under its Community Heritage Grants Scheme. The aim of this annual grants scheme is to support projects that improve access and inclusion to heritage sites and that apply good heritage practice to the management of places, collections, objects and buildings.
Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer, said, “the support from The Heritage Council for local heritage groups and local communities is most welcome. The need for continued investment in our built, natural, cultural and intangible heritage has never been more important. The continued commitment and enthusiasm of local community groups to the conservation, promotion and enhancement of our heritage is outstanding. Although this countrywide scheme is very competitive, 13 Donegal-based heritage projects out of a total of 137 countywide will be funded this year representing about 13% of the funding available nationally.”
“Through the Community Heritage Grants Scheme, local communities have demonstrated the contribution that our heritage makes to cultural, social, economic and tourism developments in County Donegal. The wise use of our heritage assets and the engagement of local communities are essential components of any project.”
The work of heritage organisations and community groups was acknowledged by Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage & Electoral Reform, who said, “every year, I love to see the creativity and dedication of our heritage sector through these projects from the Community Heritage Grant Scheme. It reminds me that despite the challenges we face, our heritage remains in safe hands.”
The strength of the heritage sector in County Donegal is evidenced by the fact that there are over 250 heritage groups or community groups with a heritage remit in County Donegal alone.
Under the Community Heritage Grants Scheme, The Heritage Council awarded funding to the Donegal Railway Heritage Museum, Donegal Town (€5,357) for an archives storage system for railway artefacts; Lifford Association Tourism Commerce Heritage (€24,217) for an upgrade of the exhibition area at Lifford Old Courthouse; Clonleigh Parish Church (€21,797) for repairs to the south nave window of the Church of St. Lugadius in Lifford; Cairde na hEaragaile (€5,200) for a conservation appraisal of a summer house at Altan Farm and appropriate assessment of a walking trail in Dunlewey; Oideas Gael (€7,079) for a community archive project; The Exchange, Buncrana (€20,000) for a project involving oral history recordings and archival research into the LGBTQ+ community in County Donegal; Kilbarron Castle & Church Conservation Group (€25,000) for the conservation of the walls of the ruins of Old Kilbarron Church; Kilcar Heritage Committee (€6,750) for a conservation report on St. Matthew’s Church, Kilcar; Milford & District Resource Centre (€16,300) for a conservation plan and feasibility study of the former Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church; Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair (€13,000) for Gaeltacht heritage tours highlighting the vernacular architecture, traditions and material culture of the area; Inishtrahull Bird Observatory (€24,690) for on-going research and monitoring work and equipment on Inishtrahull island; Muileann Coirce Leitir (€25,000) for the restoration of internal mill machinery at Leitir Corn Mill, Kilcar; and Inishowen Traditional Singers’ Circle (€13,160) working in partnership with the Irish Traditional Music Archive to continue its work to review, maintain and improve public access to its collection on Inishowen songs and singers.
Martina Moloney, Chairperson of The Heritage Council, said, “Heritage Council funding for the Community Heritage Grant Scheme has more than tripled since 2020 and the quality of the projects awarded funding is ample justification for this enhanced support. In many cases, the beneficiaries of the work being carried out is the public, who will be able to access newly digitised resources and enjoy newly restored buildings, objects and natural heritage sites of national significance.”
Commenting on the funding awards, Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said, “our recently published Strategic Plan, Our Place in Time, acknowledges the pivotal role that community groups play as custodians of our national heritage and we are committed to ensuring that funding streams are in place to support communities to care for heritage and habitats. We will continue to run the Community Heritage Grant Scheme but will also develop new schemes which adapt to the needs of the sector as they evolve. For now, though, I wish to congratulate all the grantees and look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour later in the year.”
If your group would like to start preparing an application to the grant scheme in 2024, advice is available from the County Donegal Heritage Office of Donegal County Council on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Source: Donegal County Council