After 25 years in the business, I am still regularly inspired and delighted by the people and places that my work takes me to. And that was even before last week, when Peter and I went to Kilkenny.
Recently (for example here and here and here and here) there has been a lot of discussion about what heritage means, and what the benefits of communicating or interpreting heritage are. In Kilkenny we are working with this, putting into practice, as practitioners do.
Our task is to work with local communities to develop heritage projects that will be of value to the community. As wide as that. The community will define what valuable means, what benefits they want; they may be social, conservation, access, participation, skills building, or tourism-related. None of us know yet.
The heritage is not just history. It may be built, folkloric, artistic, natural, personal, military, ecclesastical or community. None of us know yet.
This is open-ended and exciting. It is adventurous. Before last week we didn’t know what we were taking on. Now we have been introduced to, and welcomed into with that ceid mille failte that we encounter whenever we visit Ireland, three of the communities we are likely to be working with. Now we are convinced this will work and it could be brilliant.
These are what you might be tempted to call ordinary little towns and drive straight through. You would be wrong and you would be missing out.
In all the towns we found fascinating things, beautiful things, inspiring and moving things. We were shown them by committed, passionate, dedicated people.
This is a potent combination with enormous potential. We left hugely enriched and excited about the opportunity of working here.