Athenry launches Heritage Plan 2003

Home » Library » The Athenry Journal » Record

A coalition of community groups under the umbrella of Athenry Heritage Partnership recently made a submission to the County Galway Heritage Plan.

The submission sets out the need for an integrated heritage plan for Athenry and surrounding area and outlines a methodology through which this can be achieved.

Why Athenry?

Athenry and the surrounding area has an extraordinary wealth of heritage — the buildings (of all ages), the streetscapes, the cultural traditions, landscape, farming traditions, archaeology and the people. This should be utilised as a resource for the area making it a more attractive place to live in, work in and invest in. Much has been achieved already through the vision, hard work and commitment of various groups in Athenry. However, a great deal of the existing heritage is under threat from inappropriate development and modern agricultural methods. The Heritage Plan would provide an overall framework to ensure greater protection for the heritage and actively develop existing and potential heritage resources for the betterment of all the people living in and visiting the area.

Why a Heritage Plan?

To ensure the better protection and management of Athenry’s unique and important heritage.

To increase awareness of all aspects of Athenry’s heritage among the wider community.

To facilitate and encourage participation in heritage related events and activities within the community.

To inform the local authority’s planning and decision-making process.

To enhance the quality of life for the entire community in Athenry.

To encourage investment and sustainable development.

Outline of the Heritage Plan for Athenry and its Hinterland

The following is a brief outline of the components of a heritage plan for Athenry. They have been selected based on Athenry’s existing strengths in the heritage area and existing infrastructure. Specific objectives and actions were agreed by consensus with the various groups and individuals at the meeting on 12th May 2003 in Athenry.

Audit of the architectural, archaeological, natural and cultural heritage. This is considered to be a priority.

Raise awareness of and increase participation in all aspects of the heritage.

Survey existing Heritage education and investigate the development of Athenry as a centre for heritage related courses, seminars, workshops and field trips.

The following projects were identified as flagship projects to initiate this Heritage Plan:

Architectural and Archaeological: Restoration of the Market Cross, the Square, Athenry

Restoration of a section of the Athenry Medieval Town Walls from Lorro Gate to Spittal Gate — (Ownership of the walls by Galway Co. Co. since 1911 needs to be investigated)

Conduct a survey of different styles of stone-wall building in the hinterland and the town medieval walls. Record skills and folklore and explore possibility of mounting an exhibition on the results of the project.

Addition of castellation to the North Gate of Athenry

Cultural Heritage:

1. Record Field Names and Placenames in the Irish and English languages from the oral tradition, which still survives, or from research already carried out but not collated.

2. Audit of Athenry’s Musical, Dancing, Singing, Storytelling and Folklore Tradition – oral, instrumental, traditional – In order to record and preserve it. This project to be conducted in cooperation with the Athenry Branch of Comhaltas Ceólteóirí Eireann.

Natural Heritage:

Survey and preserve the trees and other flora, which are natural features of the ramparts and other defences of the town of Athenry.

Conduct an ecological survey of one farm with the co-operation of the landowner.

How will we do this?

1. Establish a Partnership. To prepare and deliver this Heritage Plan the support and involvement of all the existing network of community groups in Athenry is essential. This network includes Athenry ADC, Athenry Community Council, Athenry Arts and Heritage Company, Athenry Project Society, Athenry Tidy Towns Committee and Athenry Branch IFA. A partnership approach is envisaged involving the Local Authority, Athenry community groups, farming organisations, educational groups, Galway Rural Development Co. Leader, the OPW and the Heritage Council.

2. Identify Aims and Objectives. These will be agreed at subsequent meetings of the partnership.

3. Compile a Conservation Plan.

A. First step in this an Audit of the architectural, archaeological, natural and cultural heritage.

B. This would include a compilation of existing surveys and data on record.

C. Identify the significance of certain aspects of the heritage of the area

D. Highlight aspects which are seen vulnerable and under threat.

4. Write Plan to Protect and Manage the aspects identified

Extensive consultation and liaison with the Local Authority, Dúchas / OPW, the Heritage Council and will include good urban design and a good traffic management plan as part of an integrated approach.

5. Decide on a strategy for the evaluation of progress

6. Publish the Plan and seek to get it adopted by the Local Authority.

Timescale and Approach

The Plan could be for a five-year period (2004-2009) and would be implemented on a phased basis. The aim of the Plan would be to involve professional expertise where necessary and also involve as many local people as possible in the Plan’s implementation. Extensive local consultation should be carried out in the development of the Plan.

Any works undertaken are to comply with the best practices in conservation.

The Plan is to be developed in liaison with the existing state bodies with responsibility for heritage — Galway County Council, the OPW, the Heritage Council and the Department of Local Government”.

– –

About this record

Written by Gerry Ahern

Published here 31 Jan 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

– –