All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme launched

Date published: 14 March 2024

The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme has opened for applications for the third year of the programme. Developed by The King’s Foundation in partnership with the Heritage Council and Northern Ireland’s Department for Communities, this programme will welcome seven aspiring craftspeople with an interest in heritage skills, who will work on historic buildings and sites throughout the island of Ireland.

Stone Mason working at forge

Communities Minister, Gordon Lyons welcomed the launch of the programme and urged anyone interested in heritage skills to apply. Minister Lyons said:

“This programme has not only helped budding craftspeople hone their skills and build a career, it also supports the Department as we strive to preserve and restore our historic environment. Traditional skills such as blacksmithing, stone masonry and carpentry are essential for completing any conservation work to our heritage assets, ensuring they retain their special character for future generations to visit and enjoy. 

“These skills are also in demand as we support communities in the regeneration and repurposing of historic older buildings for the benefit of local people. At the Department’s Heritage Skills Centre in Moira, students will have the opportunity to gain practical experience in traditional building skills, conservation and repair, as well as working towards a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Heritage Skills (Construction).”

The course will begin in July 2024 and has been specifically developed to meet the demand for upskilling in heritage building skills in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to spend 12 months engaging in collaborative learning experiences while honing their heritage craft skills and gaining invaluable experience working on historic sites.

Hugh Kavanagh, All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme Manager at The King’s Foundation said: 

“We are delighted to be able to partner once again with the Department for Communities and the Heritage Council on this unique project. It has been so inspirational to see how the bursary recipients develop their knowledge of heritage skills throughout the programme, but also to see how the programme itself is continuing to build on its success in previous years. It’s a unique partnership that is making a real difference.”

The course will help preserve skills that are at risk of being lost such as traditional carpentry, lime work, thatching, blacksmithing and stonemasonry. To ensure it is accessible to all, successful applicants will receive a full scholarship and will be provided with a monthly bursary to help cover the cost of travel and accommodation.

Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, said:

“At a time when the supply of skilled heritage craftspeople is on the decline, it is imperative that we create a space for the next generation to learn, to grow and to flourish. The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme stands as a beacon in preserving and fostering these invaluable crafts and is the only programme of its kind currently operating. By providing a platform for the course participants to hone their skills and elevate their craft, we ensure that our heritage continues to thrive and enrich future generations."

Applications for The All-Ireland Heritage Skills Programme are open now until 5pm on Friday 3 May 2024. To apply, or to find out more, visit: The Kings Foundation

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media queries contact the Department for Communities press office via email at: Press Office
  2. Follow us on Twitter @CommunitiesNI
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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