Between 2018 and 2021, six 'Reading Your Local Landscape' training courses have been delivered in County Clare. These have involved over 70 community members based in Scariff, Miltown Malbay, Kilrush, Killaloe, Carron and Kilkishen.
The courses have been funded by Creative Ireland, Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) and Clare County Council. The course content is developed by Zena Hoctor and delivered by Zena, in conjunction with guest lecturers and LCETB tutors.
The central aim of the ‘Reading the Landscape’ training is to enable course participants to identify, examine and record the built, natural and cultural heritage features of their own local area through desk research and fieldwork. Instruction and tuition is provided in landscape heritage resource identification and recording techniques, focusing on the immediate local area in which the course is based, while providing a wider countywide and nationwide overview. A range of training techniques are employed, including class-based lectures, case studies, group exercises, field trips and project work.
Through this process, local community members are empowered to discover, recognise, promote and conserve their unique local heritage resources. Each participant applies the learned techniques through practical group and individual heritage studies. This empowers the creativity of the course participants and promotes individual and community well-being, through local heritage exploration. Course participants discover and engage with their cultural heritage and reinforce a sense of belonging to their own local area.
Upon completion of these studies, a public showcase exhibition is organised, where the participants display their findings visually and orally. The projects are hosted on the Clare Heritage page on the iCAN Irish Community Archive Network. The iCAN Irish Community Archive Network initiative is hosted by the National Museum of Ireland in Castlebar and Clare County Council Heritage Office. This website training allows local communities to share their local history and heritage through a step-by-step training and mentoring programme.
The course was facilitated online due to Covid considerations and this hybrid model was devised by Zena Hoctor and was used for both Carran and Kilkishen.
This course is co-ordinated by Congella McGuire, Heritage Officer with Clare County Council and member of the Creative Ireland Clare Cultural Team and Margot Walsh of LCETB and devised and facilitated by Zena Hoctor.