A large attendance gathered at County Hall on Friday 27th April 2007 for the launch of the County Sligo Heritage Plan 2007-2011.
Speaking at the launch, outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr. Jimmy McGarry, said that ‘Sligo’s heritage is unique and it is this heritage that makes Sligo a very attractive place in which to live and work. It is what makes our county special. The importance of heritage to the economic, social and cultural development of Sligo is now being nurtured and recognised by heritage management at local level. In essence, it is about planning for and ensuring a high quality of life for our citizens.’ The Cathaoirleach went on to say that ‘the enthusiastic participation of community groups and individuals in the process of preparing the plan is testament to the contribution such plans can make in reconnecting people with their local heritage and in celebrating the cultural heritage of our county.’
The diverse gathering of community groups, heritage organisations and individuals with an interest in the heritage of Sligo was also addressed by the Chairman of the County Sligo Heritage Forum, Cllr. Patsy Barry who said that, ‘The Sligo Heritage Forum collectively recognises that our shared heritage resource needs careful management and planning for its future protection and enhancement and that it is our clear responsibility to ensure that Sligo's heritage is passed on intact to future generations.’ Cllr. Barry recognised that the Heritage Forum had worked hard over the last five years on strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones for the benefit of heritage and the wider community. He went on to say that ‘As Chairman, I would like to record my sincere thanks to every member of the Heritage Forum, both past and present, who have given their time, commitment and enthusiasm for Sligo’s heritage. It is both a challenging and rewarding process, one in which the Forum members fully participate.
The first Heritage Plan 2002-2006, has seen our heritage information base improved, enhanced communication amongst stakeholders, an increase in heritage awareness, promotion of best practice and implementation of key projects. This has happened through an emphasis on inclusiveness and through participation by many individuals, communities and agencies. Engagement and promotion of partnership within and outside the Forum is a key strength and the Heritage Forum members lead by example, for which they are to be congratulated.’
Liam Scott, representing The Heritage Council, focused on the importance of partnership for the benefit of our National heritage and the importance of the close links that exist between the Heritage Council and Local Authorities across Ireland. He commended the work of the Sligo Heritage Forum and the Heritage Office and ensured that the Heritage Council would continue to support the delivery of heritage programming at county level in partnership with Sligo Local Authorities. He went on to stress the importance of community involvement in heritage at local level and acknowledged the huge amount of voluntary work that is undertaken in the county for heritage.
Guest speaker at the launch was RTE, NI Correspondent and Sligo native, Tommie Gorman. In his address, he talked of his love for his county and its rich heritage, and the challenges that daily face that fragile resource. He went on to say that ‘we need to be mindful’ of our county, its heritage and its fragility, and that each one of us has a responsibility to ensure that change in our county is for the better and that as individuals can stand over ‘what happens on our watch’. Managing heritage positively is a difficult challenge and there is a lot to be done, but progress can be made through initiatives such as the County Sligo Heritage Plan 2007-2011, the Heritage Forum and the Heritage Office. Since 1999, Sligo County Council has supported the development of heritage services at county level. Through the work of the County Sligo Heritage Forum and the Heritage Office we have seen the Council’s involvement in the provision of Heritage Services grow and deepen. Through the first Heritage Plan, the Heritage Forum and Heritage Office have worked hard to provide a positive mechanism for the Council to engage with the community in relation to heritage and we have seen the value of planning locally for our heritage, through the successful implementation of the first County Sligo Heritage Plan 2002-2006. The objectives and actions outlined in the new heritage plan are the result of extensive consultation with individuals, community groups, agencies and indeed all who have an interest in conserving Sligo’s heritage. That community contribution is of immense value and is valued. In supporting the implementation of this plan, Sligo County Council aspires to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Sligo and to promote an appreciation and understanding of heritage in the community and to provide opportunities to know, value and care for the heritage of our beautiful county.
The second Heritage Plan for Sligo contains 63 specific actions, which will be delivered over the five-year period of the Plan. Implementation has already started and will be led by the Heritage Forum, supported by the Heritage Office. Projects which will be undertaken during 2007 include; habitat mapping of Sligo City and its environs, recording of traditional crafts and skills, a historic graveyard survey, placenames survey, heritage awareness survey and an information day for owners of heritage buildings.
The Heritage Forum has always focussed on action and practical implementation and the aim adopted by the Heritage Forum to guide the work of the coming five years is: ‘Working with the community to know, value and care for Sligo’s heritage and to increase awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of our heritage for all’.
Knowing, valuing and caring for our shared heritage is the focus for the next five years. The new Heritage Plan is for the benefit of all who live and work in Sligo. All are encouraged to get involved and to share in the many benefits that a strong and vibrant heritage can bring to our county.
For further information contact the Heritage Office at 071-9111226/255 or email email@example.com