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Clarecastle and Ballyea heritage group receives Clare County Heritage Week Award 2020

20 October 2020

‘Heritage Heroes’ from across Ireland were celebrated at the National Heritage Awards 2020 today (20th October, 2020), with Clarecastle and Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife Group receiving the Clare County Heritage Week Award 2020 for its project, “Clarecastle on film in the 1950s.” Projects from County Clare also received recognition at the Awards as runners-up in two categories.

“Clarecastle on film in the 1950s” entailed the discovery and restoration of old cine-film taken in Clarecastle in the 1950s, which shows aspects of the village that have changed and, in particular, the unloading of ships at Clarecastle Quay.

The project organisers established a website, and Facebook and Instagram pages, where collections of old photographs, publications, research documents and more are on display.

Labasheeda Projects Group was named as a runner-up in the ‘Heritage of Education Award’ category for the project, ‘Labasheeda Ar Scoil – An Educational Journey.’ This project told the story of education in the Labasheeda area throughout the ages from describing how locals overcame many challenges during the penal days right up until the present day, with the opening of a new school in 1975.

Shannon Town Community Wetlands was a runner-up in the ‘Water Heritage Award’ category for the ‘Shannon Town Community Wetlands Project’, a community initiative to develop an attractive amenity within the town that promotes biodiversity and enhances the community value of the site, while making it user-friendly and accessible.

The National Heritage Awards recognise the efforts of individuals, families and community groups across Ireland to ensure the preservation, protection and promotion of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage. Hosted by the Heritage Council, the Awards event took place virtually and was presented by RTÉ broadcaster, Anne Cassin.

To take account of restrictions on gatherings due to Covid-19, rather than focusing on the organisation of in-person events this year, more than 770 heritage groups and enthusiasts developed projects around this year’s theme of ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’. Comprising online talks and exhibitions, videos, podcasts, slideshow presentations, blogs, websites, social media accounts, as well as small, restricted social gatherings, more than 850 projects were submitted. Each one was considered for a National Heritage Week Award.

The Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard, said: “I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the project organisers, event organisers, supporters and members of the public who adapted and took part in National Heritage Week this year, in Clare in particular. I am delighted to see that a number of Clare-based projects were featured. Congratulations to Clarecastle Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife Group on receiving the Clare County Heritage Week Award 2020, and to both Labasheeda Projects Group and Shannon Town Community Wetlands for the recognition given to their projects.”

The National Heritage Week Awards were expanded this year to include an award for the best project in each county across the island, which in Clare went to “Clarecastle on film in the 1950s”. Project footage was featured by RTÉ during National Heritage Week in August. 

Congella McGuire, Heritage Officer, Clare County Council, said: “Clarecastle Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife Group has made a tremendous contribution to the development and promotion of heritage in County Clare. Every year the group holds informed, entertaining and varied calendars of events for National Heritage Week.

“The group has made a significant contribution to Clare’s heritage and wildlife recording and has made available a wealth of information on local heritage and wildlife through its publications, talks and walks, while always involving and informing the local schools in its heritage undertakings.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said: “The annual National Heritage Awards offer important recognition of the tireless work undertaken by people – not just during National Heritage Week, but year-round – to ensure the story of Ireland’s heritage continues to be told in a meaningful way. I am delighted to see the interest and excitement generated by the Awards among communities across the country, and offer congratulations to all winning and nominated projects.”

The winners of the National Heritage Week Awards 2020 are:

  • The Heritage Hero Award: Christy Cunniffe from Clonfert, Co. Galway
  • The Heritage on Your Doorstep Award: The Killeshandra Tidy Towns Heritage Group from Killeshandra, Co. Cavan
  • The Re-Learning Skills from Our Heritage Award: Johnny Shiels from Glenswilly, Co. Donegal
  • The Heritage of Education Award: Rathmullan and District Local History Society from Rathmullan, Co. Donegal
  • The Water Heritage Award: The Ellen Hutchins Festival from Bantry, Co. Cork.


“Clarecastle on film in the 1950s” is available to view at:



Members of with Clarecastle and Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife Group, which received the Clare County Heritage Week Award 2020 for its project, “Clarecastle on film in the 1950s” (l-r): John Power, Jean Ryan, Eric Shaw, Frank Barry, Catherine O’Connor and Christy Leyden.

Page last reviewed: 20/10/20

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