Laois Heritage Society can look back on another very busy and productive year. Thanks to the hard work of its members and through our members work with Laois Heritage Forum, the mission of the Society is being carried out through its involvement in a wide range of heritage related projects.
A vital part of the work of the Society relates to the monitoring and protection of important archaeological, architectural and historical sites, particularly those under threat. Although the element of threat to some sites has been reduced due to the slowdown in the building boom, there is always a need for the public and particularly groups such as ours to be ever vigilant.
Due to the work of groups such as ours there is a growing awareness of the importance of this work because thousands of years of history can be brutally destroyed by the use of modern equipment in a matter of hours and even minutes. It is so important too that the lovely villages and towns of County Laois retain their distinctive character.
Not only is there a growing awareness but also growing support from the general public. This is also reflected in the strengthening of the laws governing the requirements of developers and others to ensure that heritage related aspects of the site and the project are addressed fully before any demolition or construction is sanctioned.
The natural habitat and wildlife are also important aspects of our heritage. Laois Heritage Forum has been engaged for many years in various worthy programmes in this regard. This year the Forum has secured funding, despite the cutbacks, for its Laois Habitats Survey Phase V and for a publication on Wildlife Awareness in Schools.
This is due in no small measure due to the help and encouragement of Laois Heritage Officer, Catherine Casey. She has been doing a wonderful job since taking up her appointment in the county. We thank her for that and also congratulate her and her husband, Joe, on the arrival of a little daughter, Anna, during the year. Thanks too to her replacement during her leave of Angela McEvoy who has been extremely busy attending Forum matters and is ever helpful to members who share this interest.
It is vital that planned work on Dunamase continues. It is an ongoing programme and an ongoing concern. Value for money in this, as in all heritage projects, is of the essence. The Society appreciate the cooperation between those involved in the work and those in charge who are at all times courteous in welcoming visitors to the site.
Portlaoise Heritage Trail
Portlaoise Heritage Trail is up and running now for more that a year and has added significantly to the positive way in which the towns historic past is viewed by visitors and townspeople alike. There are lovely informative plaques on 26 sites and there is a beautiful information brochure to guide people on the Trail. While many individuals and small groups are to be seen taking an interest in these sites, our President, Michael Parsons, has led numerous walks during the year and we sincerely thank him for that.
We were hoping that progress could be made on providing a similar Heritage Trail for Portarlington. We have managed to get a commitment that Laois Heritage Forum would help us with this project. Unfortunately the funding cutbacks has delayed getting a timeframe in place but this remains an important project on our agenda.