The OPW has launched a nationwide advertising campaign seeking expressions of interest from local heritage/community groups who may be interested in becoming a partner with the OPW.
Brian Hayes TD said “For whatever reason Ireland has never involved voluntary effort in the presentation of our heritage. Unlike many European countries where volunteers are an essential part of heritage tourism, we have been slow to formalise the involvement of community groups in our national heritage. This will change under my time as Minister.”
The Minister went on to say “The potential of volunteering and Irish heritage has never been organised at a national level. As the lead agency with the responsibility in preserving and presenting our heritage, we need the help of local community and heritage groups”.
The Minister continued “Building on the success of the free day initiative launched by the OPW last year, I want by this summer to have at least 25 partnerships in place between the OPW and various organisations. Since coming into office I have been impressed by the enormous interest that exists locally in the heritage sites that are under the control of the OPW”.
“I am constantly met by groups who want greater opening times, more local involvement or who have plans to develop tourism locally by using our national monuments and national properties. We need to work with these groups. A new partnership needs to be formed between the OPW and local volunteering effort. There are of course challenges for the OPW in this but I’m convinced that this organisation has the expertise and know how required”, the Minister said.
Minister Hayes said further “The truth is that funding for extending opening times or extending the excellent guide service are simply not there. Nor will they be over the next few years. If we want more domestic or international tourists to visit our fantastic sites, we need the help of community groups. While everyone knows the Rock of Cashel or Kilkenny Castle, there are literally dozens of other amazing sites which have been restored brilliantly by the OPW and which need to be developed”.
“Next year 2013 is the year of the gathering. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful heritage we have in this country. Far too many sites across the country should have a much greater local input. Working with local groups the OPW can help develop the tourism platform and have a much greater local involvement”.
If you are part of a local historical or heritage group and are interested in getting involved with this exciting project, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 046 942 6106 or 046 942 6061. The closing date for expressions of interest is this Wednesday 28th March 2012.
A national conference will take place in April and the OPW will provide training to those groups selected to take part.