Excavations, castles and caves: 7 things to do in Ireland this Heritage Week
Heritage Week is underway in Ireland. For seven days, over 400,000 people will take part in over 1,800 heritage events across the country.
From archaeological digs in Swords to steam engine rides in Stradbally, there's a wealth of (mostly free) events arranged by local volunteers to celebrate Ireland's diverse and sometimes forgotten past.
Independent.ie brings you seven of the best:
1. Archaeological dig at Swords Castle
Where: Swords Castle, Main Street, Swords, Co Dublin
When: Every day this week 10am-4pm
Take part in a real-life archaeological dig in Dublin at Swords Castle. Members of the public are asked to help excavate sites to uncover what may be buried there. Volunteers will get the chance to dig, wash pottery and bag artifacts in supervised conditions. There have been reports of old bones and coins found already. No experience necessary, but you have to be over 18 and need to register first.
2. Loughrea Medieval festival
Where: Loughrea, Co. Galway, Ireland
When: All day 28-30 August
The Loughrea Medieval festival will be a weekend festival dedicated to Loughrea's rich Mediavel history and celebrating its status as having the only functioning moat in Ireland. A huge number of events (many free) will take place throughout the weekend, including a Mediaeval clan banquet, puppet shows, historical walks, battle re-enactments and much more. All events on the Saturday and Sunday will be completely free of charge.
3. High Nelly heritage cycle
Where: From Derrinlough Co. Offaly to Durrow Co. Laois
When: Saturday August 29 and Sunday August 30
The High Nelly Heritage Cycle will re-create one of the routes taken by travel writer William Bulfin in 1902. Bulfin travelled 3,000 mile around Ireland with his High Nelly bicycle over 100 years ago. He wrote about his trip in the book "Rambles in Eirinn" and cyclist will now be able to take a tour on the route he took. The two day cycle will take in the heritage towns of Birr, Roscrea and Abbeyleix before pushing on to the town of Durrow.
The tour will cost €50, with food and an overnight stay included in the price. But cyclists beware: in order to keep the event authentic only High Nelly bikes or there genuine replicas will be allowed on the tour!
4. Celebrating Ellen Hutchins
Where: Various locations in West Cork
When: 22-30 August
Ellen Hutchins, who died in 1815, was Ireland's first female botanist. Born in Ballylickey in 1775, she discovered many new species of plant, at least 10 of which were completely new and named after her. This celebration of Hutchins' life will take in talks, exhibitions of her life, nature walks around her favourite plant hunting grounds and more.
5. Archaeofest 2015
Where: Merrion Square, Dublin 2
When: August 29 11am to 16pm
One for all the family here with a day of archaeology curated by the Institute of Archaeologists. There will be experiments, excavations and much more on offer. No booking needed, kids are more than welcome, and it's completely free!
6. Rock Detective Club
Where: Marble Arch Caves, Co Fermanagh
When: Wednesday August 6
Another one for the kids here, the winner of last year's best children's event award is back with a treasure hunt that really rocks! Children will be able to hunt through Fermanagh caves while learning about the family tree of plants that dates back 340 million years.
7. Romans in Kilkenny
Where: Lyrath Estate Hotel, Purcellsinch, Co Kilkenny
When: August 30 1-5pm
The Romans never made it to Ireland…or did they? This event will let you visit the Roman military camp and hear archaeologists talk about the discoveries that show the close connections Kilkenny had with the Roman world. No booking required and it's free!
These are just a fraction of the rich events that are on offer for free in Ireland this week. Visit heritageweek.ie for a full list of events.