County Wicklow Event Guide for National Heritage Week

National Heritage Week runs from 20th- 28th Aug at over 60 different venues throughout county Wicklow. Events include a diverse mixture of indoor and outdoor talks, demonstrations, guided tours, archaeological digs, volunteer surveys, kids workshops, bat walks, re-enactments, crafts and music. Pick up a copy of the County Wicklow Event guide at your local library or tourist office or click on the pdf at the end of this page. For more information see

Heritage for Kids

Big Dig in Glendalough – kids get the chance to be an archaeologist by digging for treasures and artefacts dating back over 1000 years and learning about our Viking ancestors through the eyes of real archaeologists.

Knockree Hostel:  explore nature and the local woodlands through this outdoors art workshop for kids at the An Oige Hostel near Enniskerry.

Castleruddery Organic Farm– Book a day at forest school to practice bush craft such as how to build a shelter, light a fire and cook bread

All Things Woolly at Tinahely: Meet the sheep at the weekend fair in Market square with a sheep run and sheep shearing, craft and food stalls. Visit the courthouse during the week to see how wool is spun, see demonstrations of felt, knitting and crochet and watch out for yarn bombs!

Hollywood Fair – Crafts, music, sheep dog trials, vintage vehicles, games and cooking. Come dressed up in pre 1950’s costume to support the Guinness Book of Record attempt for the most flat caps at one event!

Nature Explorers outdoor workshop about Birds at Wicklow Mountains National Park with activities aimed at children aged 5 to 11 years. Free of charge but booking required. Also on offer is an evening talk about Bats at the Education centre to be followed by a guided walk from the information office.

Killruddery – Last of the Summer Fling – A day of traditional games to bid farewell to the summer, can be enjoyed with an entry ticket to the gardens. Enjoy egg and spoon races, sack racing, wheelbarrow races, welly-throwing competitions and much more, or bring along a picnic to enjoy in the formal Gardens.

Wicklow’s Historic Gaol: Experience a glimpse of life in prisons of the past in this interactive museum experience. Half price entry Mon & Tues.

Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood at Powerscourt House – Purchase a ticket to join ‘Magical Miniature World’ at this miniature hat making workshop.


Places to Visit

Wicklow Head Lighthouse: See the conservation work of Irish Landmark Trust. Imagine life as a lighthouse keeper on your self-guided tour of this restored C18th lighthouse now run as holiday accommodation.

Russborough House: Enjoy free entry to the Russborough exhibition centre – 100 years of Russborough, its Families, History & Culture with every half price ticket purchased for the guided house tour on the opening weekend of Heritage Week.

 Bray Head for Whale Watching: As part of the All Ireland Whale Watch Day join the IWDG for a free and guided land-based whale watch. While there are no guarantees of sightings, but given reasonable weather you have a good chance of seeing some of the marine mammal species that can be viewed locally.

 Hollywood Fair: Pre 1950 Fair set in the beautiful village of Hollywood displaying a wide variety of activities, crafts, threshing, sheep-show, music, sheepdog trials, vintage vehicles, traditional cooking etc

Wicklow’s Historic Gaol, Avail of half price entry on Monday and Tuesday and hear the story of its prisoners through an interactive tour led by experienced and passionate actor guides.

Ballymurrin Farmstead: Visit two 17C Quaker farmsteads, one unroofed; the farmhouse with bread oven and muted classical style. Milking parlour; stables; dower house; complete the courtyard and garden in front of house

Arklow Maritime Museum : The Museum is a treasure trove of shipbuilders’ models, half models, plans and a unique collection of eight paintings of Arklow sailing ships, open for visits Tues – Sat.

Calary church: Early 19th century church that includes the pulpit used by John Nelson Darby, one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren. The church is still in active use. Free guided tours available and local produce on sale.

Visit the churches of Arklow: Visit some of the towns most historic and beautiful churches during special open days for Heritage Week. The impressive St. Saviours Church designed by noted English church architect Sir Arthur W. Blomfield will be open for visitors from Mon – Sun while St. Mary’s and Peter’s Church on St. Mary’s road will be open on Monday for visits and the Arklow Methodist Church  on Wed afternoon.  A special service will be held at the Arklow Presbyterian Church for the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.  Visitors also welcome to explore the Old Kilbride Cemetery, located 1 mile from the town with many 18th century headstones and the impressive  Howard mausoleum known locally as ‘the pyramid’.

 Macreddin Village: A self-guided walk along The Macreddin Village Mile designed by local people identifies local historical landmarks along with edible herbs, leaves, berries, mushrooms and fruits as well as a range of native wildlife. Pick up a leaflet and wander.

Glenmalure PURE Mile walk: Self-guiding information leaflets available at Glenmalure Lodge Hotel will introduce you to the History, Culture & Biodiversity of the valley of Glenmalure. Explore at your leisure.


Guided Walks & Tours

Take your pick from the selection of walks and guided tours on offer. At all times dress appropriately for the weather and terrain and contact organisers in advance for further information.

Follow the footsteps of Pilgrims along St. Kevin’s Pilgrim Path from Hollywood to Glendalough , or walk Wicklow’s newest way marked  trail, the Avonmore Way, meeting at Clara Vale church and exploring  wildlife and built heritage with local experts.

Join a historical walking tour of Bray tracing the town’s history during the eventful period 1916-1921. Starting at St Peters Graveyard in Little Bray and finishing at the Railway Station (Daly Station).

Take a guided mining walk through the landscape of the Copper and Sulphur mines unique to the Avoca Valley, hear about the thousands of men, women and children who laboured above and below ground in the terrible conditions of the former Victorian Copper mine. At Glenmalure join a walk and talk about the story of lead mining & local folklore in 19th century Barravore, Glenmalure. Hosted jointly by Glenmalure Adopt a Monument Committee & Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland.

At Wicklow town there are two guided coastal walks on offer; The Cliff Walk with magnificent scenery and the ruins of an old penal church and lime kiln and the beautiful Broadlough Nature Reserve and Murrough wetlands. Bring binoculars as there are always some great bird sightings and possibly some seals.

Glendalough guided archaeology and graveyard tours: Daily tours (Mon- Sat) of the UCD excavations at the Glendalough Monastic Complex, followed by tours of the new Glendalough Graveyard Trail created by the Glendalough Heritage Forum community graveyard survey team and featuring some of the most interesting grave markers on site.

Join a Heritage Walk of Newcastle village to find out more about local landmarks and lore. At Delgany Village there are guided tours of the early Christian Burial ground in the centre of the village with explanations of the historic 18th and 19th century inscriptions and artistic motifs.

Also leaflets for a self guided Heritage Trail around the village are available at the old Graveyard.

There are guided bat walks at the Upper Lake in Glendalough and at Arklow which take place at dusk and are suitable for all the family. Insect repellent and torches recommended.

Join the daily guided garden tours at the   National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh exploring the unique and rare tree collection, visit Mount Usher gardens in Ashford on Tuesday for a special tour available with your ticket purchase, while Knocknaree Gardens near Avoca is open for self guided visits each morning during heritage week.


‘The Week That Was’ a talk at Bray Public Library by Jim Scannell looking back at events in Bray, Co. Wicklow, during the week of August 20th to August 28th 1916 courtesy of the Bray Cualann Historical society.

 The Quakers & Weavers around Baltyboys: A talk about the Quakers and weavers of the area from Baltyboys to Lackan and Annacarney with a focus on the new findings made during research over the past year.

 Newcastle Through The Decades: This slideshow and talk by Brian Harris will trace Newcastle’s development as a vibrant community throughout the years.


Exhibitions & Workshops

All Things Woolly at Tinahely: Exhibitions by artists using wool in creative ways. See displays of various stages wool goes through for processing alongside samples of bolts of wool and finished products. Watch out for the yarn bombs in the village! Also half day and full day workshops will be available throughout the week in wool handling, crochet, Fair Island Knitting, drop spindle and Navaho spinning.  At the weekend watch the sheep run, sheep shearing demonstrations and visit the market stalls for wool crafts and local food.

Glendalough An Age Old Attraction’ an exhibition of  historic photographs from the NLI collection showing the familiar landmarks such as the  Round Tower, Royal Hotel, Gateway, Deer Stone etc as seen by 19th century tourists. Visit the exhibition at the Brockagh Centre in Laragh and follow it at outdoor locations throughout the valley.

 Mini Craft Village at Ballywaltrim Library, Bray; An exhibition of quilts, paintings and other locally produced handcrafts by Ballywaltrim Library Quilters Group and Rehab Care Bray .

 1916 Portrait Exhibition: This print exhibition takes place in St. Kevin’s Church, Hollywood, one of the oldest churches still in use in Ireland. Wicklow artist Rod Coyne has created an exclusive series of portraits remembering key faces from Easter 1916.

 Photography & Art Exhibition at Luisne in Kilcoole from Artist Barbara O’Meara and students and landscape photography from Head Gardner Dieter Sommers.

 ‘Digitally Recording Glendalough’ The Discovery Programme staff will be in ‘St. Kevin’s Kitchen’ church at Glendalough demonstrating the latest scanning and digital recording techniques used in modern archaeology and giving you a rare chance to visit the inside to this church!


Music & Film

The Ballymore Eustace Brass band will be giving a free outdoor concert to kick off the Hollywood Fair in style of Sat. 20th while the following week St. Kevin’s Church in Hollywood provides the historic setting for Ceiliruadh: An Acoustic Celebration of Music, Song and Poems with Paul Bradley (fiddle), Ger Fitzgerald (Bean an Sean Nos) and Rachel Conlan (fiddle).

As part of ‘All Things Woolly’ at the Courthouse in Tinahely there is a special screening of ‘Addicted to Sheep’ a film following a year in the life of a sheep farm in the North Pennines. All of the experience with none of the muck!

 Hands on Archaeology@ Glendalough

The monastic complex at Glendalough is the hub for an exciting programme of activities, leading up to and including Heritage Week, with lots of opportunities for hands on participation. Interested individuals are invited to take part in a Community Archaeology Excavation taking place from 8th -20th Aug. No experience needed, just enthusiasm and willingness to dedicate at least one full day. All training and supervision will be provided by the School of Archaeology, UCD, who will continue the excavation with their own field school throughout Heritage Week. Recent discoveries by UCD have unearthed evidence of the monastic enclosure wall, a Viking coin, jewellery and other artefacts.


Also at Glendalough, volunteers are needed to assist the Community Graveyard Survey team continue to record the headstones throughout Heritage Week. If you have a few hours to spare, your assistance in this worthwhile project would be very welcome.

For children there will be the opportunity to take part in the ‘Big Dig’ a one day simulated archaeological dig on Sat 27th Aug.  While in St. Kevin’s Church, Discovery Programme staff will demonstrate how new 3D technology is being used to record, interpret and present Ireland’s heritage. This event provides a rare opportunity to go inside ‘St. Kevin’s Kitchen’. Coupled with this are guided tours of the excavations, a new graveyard trail, and of course the ‘Glendalough an Age Old Attraction’ exhibition of 19th century photographs.

These projects are organised collaboratively by the Glendalough Heritage Forum, (more information and booking at and   made possible by support from the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council and The Heritage Council.




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