Discover Cork’s Hidden Heritage This National Heritage Week

17 August 2019
By Elaine Murphy

Office of Public Works to host range of events across Cork to celebrate Heritage Week

12 August 2019: The history of exotic gardens, archery demonstrations and the technology behind a 19th century gardens are some of the great events being hosted by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to celebrate National Heritage Week 2019. National Heritage Week, which takes place from the 17th to 25th of August, is a celebration of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage and aims to generate awareness, appreciation and preservation of Ireland’s wonderful resources.

This week is coordinated by the Heritage Council and is now one of Ireland’s largest cultural events. This year some half a million people are expected to attend some 2,200 events across the country.

The chosen theme for this year’s Heritage Week is the celebration of Pastimes and Past Times and to mark National Heritage Weekend the OPW is hosting a number of free events on their sites across Cork. Events taking place include:

Doneraile Court, Walled Garden Walk, 20th August 2-3pm.Doneraile Court is the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates which opened its doors to the public for the first time in a generation this Summer following a €1.6million restoration by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The restoration works included the total refurbishment of the ground floor including the main staircase giving public access to a visitor reception and an interpretive exhibition area in the three main reception rooms of the house. The OPW conservation team have carefully restored the house, bringing together artefacts and pieces of work that speak to the rich and long history of the house. The first floor is also home to paintings, dating from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, on loan from Crawford Art Gallery, which further add context to this historic house. Guided tours of Doneraile Court take visitors from the foundations of the house in the 1700s right up to present day. Visitors will discover tales of secret meetings, great novelists, and legendary horse races and learn about St. Leger family who occupied the house for over three centuries.

To mark National Heritage Week garden specialist Neil Porteous will give a free guided tour of the evolving 19th century garden, focusing on its historic development in times past and the forgotten people who helped establish such a precious and fragile amenity over the decades. The tour will also explain how 19th century technology was used to feed the great house. (Booking required)

Fota Arboretum and Gardens – free Heritage Week garden tours at Fota Arboretum and Gardens on Tuesday 20th, Wednesday 21st, Thursday 22nd August. No booking required, just turn up at 2pm to learn about the 19th century gardens which have a world-renowned collection of rare tender and exotic trees and shrubs from the southern hemisphere. Hear how the development of the arboretum coincided with the great plant hunting expeditions around the world bringing back wonderful specimens from Asia, South America and the Pacific coast of northwest America. Meet at the OPW flag in front of Fota House at 2pm.

Archery display at Charles Fort, Kinsale, Cork – Sunday 25th August, 12pm – 4:30pm: As one of the largest military installations in the country, Charles Fort has been associated with some of the most momentous events in Irish history to mark National Heritage Week the Fort will host an Archery display within its historic walls.

Garinish Island, Sunday 25th of August. To celebrate National Heritage Week there will be free entry to Garinish Island. The island which is located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty. The gardens of Garinish owe their existence to the creative partnership, some eighty years ago, of Annan Bryce, then owner of the island and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. Structures in the garden include the Martello Tower (an original feature of the Island dating from the 1805), a Grecian Temple on the western side, the clock tower adjacent to the walled gardens and the Italian Temple and Italian Tea House (or Casita) which are in the famed Italian Gardens. Free admission on Sunday 25th August only. Please be aware that it is admission to the island ONLY which is free. Separate charge imposed by boat operators.

For more information on all of these events and on all thing’s heritage week go to or contact OPW Client Services and Communications at 01 6476106 or

You must be logged in to post a comment Login