From a Distance

by Úna D’Arcy

The outdoors and everything that it has to offer will be an important tool for everyone in our North Westmeath Creative Tourism Group.

Social distancing and maintaining the new practice of just giving each other a bit more space is likely to be the new norm for the foreseeable future.

This summer was tabled as an important and busy one for us all with the Fleadh coming into Mullingar. That is not happening and its loss will impact every aspect of our tourism from opportunities to showcase the whole area to the important income it would have brought to accommodation providers, food and hospitality, tours and culture groups.

There are a lot of tools at your disposal that will help you build the outdoors into your offering this summer. Please keep in touch with each other and make as much use as possible of the Facebook page and Website to get your message out there.

When considering the outdoors; think in terms of the four pillars of heritage- culture, natural, built and archaeological. This might help you to see an important offering your area has that you have overlooked just because you see it everyday.

Built and Archaeological

You will lose hours of your life once you start using this site – it is absolutely amazing and so easy to use. This address will bring you to the National Monuments Service interactive map and search facility that provides access to all records of the Archaeological Survey of Ireland (ASI) stored on its national database, commonly known as the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR).

National Monuments Service

If you are interested in obtaining a list of all records for a particular area it is recommended that you search the database either by county and/or townland as this will include both the located and unlocated records.

An amazing addition is the Underwater Archaelogy section.

Ireland’s waterways – both marine and freshwater – have been central to the development of life on this island since the first water craft crossed the seaways from Britain and the Continent almost 10,000 years ago. Waterborne vessels of various shapes and sizes have explored the coast and used the rivers as route ways into the interior where settlements were established, resources exploited, trade developed and conflict often took place over territory and control of the same resources and waterways.

Alongside thousands of years of sunken ships this is a cultural database of submerged landscapes, harbours, jetties, landing places, fish traps, kelp grids, bridge sites, crannogs and tidal mills all attest to Ireland’s rich underwater cultural heritage. Evidence for this underwater heritage is found in Ireland’s designated waters (covering over 900,000 km² of seabed), along the Irish coastline (over 7,000km long), in the thousands of kilometres of rivers, over 12,000 lakes, canals, wetland environments, bogs and beneath reclaimed areas of land which were formerly seabed.

Natural Heritage

Check out the following brilliant websites:

Cultural Heritage

This is a mine of extraordinary and beautiful photos, accounts, collections and Topics that will add a rich vein of colour to the stories of your area. A great starting point; especially for visitors looking for information about their families who may be from the area.

It is also worth looking at the get to know what your area looked like over time. names and occupations are often a great indicator- why not use it alongside the historic viewer.

I hope some of these sites prove helpful and we welcome any and all suggestions; so if you find something that’s useful please share it with the group.