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Conservation Without Frontiers Takes Place in Fermanagh and Cavan

Posted on: 28th June 2019

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UAH are pleased to announce that the joint Ulster Architectural Heritage and Irish Georgian Society biennial summer school took place from the 20th – 22nd June 2019, in Ennsikillen, Cavan, and Kilmore.

The Summer School brought together students, professionals and enthusiasts to learn more about issues relating to architectural conservation and offer the chance to discuss these in an informal setting. The aim of the school is to inform on the subject of conservation, and to promote best practice through direct engagement with experts and practitioners.

This year’s theme was ‘Survival and Revival: Living Towns and Villages in Cavan and Fermanagh’ and particularly focused on the issues facing Irish towns and villages, from population migration, to the changing nature of the high street and current planning and policy. We also looked at the development of exemplar towns to learn about their rich history and heritage, how they inform and have been informed by our way of life, and to consider the implications for their future. A greater appreciation and understanding of these issues and the attributes of our historic buildings creates opportunities, giving endless scope to custodians of buildings to enhance the qualities of their towns or villages while ensuring a deeper sense of pride and acceptance of the uniqueness of their own places. Visits and venues included the wonderful Cavan Masonic Hall, which had opened its doors to an external event for the first time, as well as the former Kilmore See House, Kilmore Cathedral, Killeshandra Rath Church, Enniskillen Police Station and Cole’s Monument, Enniskillen.

The school had a wealth of participation from students, local council members, heritage groups and the general public. Student participation was particularly central to the school, with subsidised places and accommodation offered to students from across the UK and Ireland, who are studying for a qualification in architecture or a relevant field. In some cases, the school bridges a gap in course content, introducing participants to conservation and heritage issues for the first time. As part of this engagement, students are required to partake in a competition involving specially selected local projects. The winners were chosen by a panel of experts, and announced on the final day of the Summer School.

UAH President, Primrose Wilson, underlined the importance of conserving our historic places, ‘Now more than ever, it is essential to work together on the island of Ireland to promote conservation. At a time when climate change is high on everyone’s agenda it is important to recognise the part that historic buildings play in mitigating it… We have amazing historic buildings and during the weekend in Cavan & Fermanagh we saw a few of these – there wasn’t enough time to see them all! It is important that young and old understand their importance to our history and heritage.’  Recalling her childhood in Roscommon, she now lives in Armagh, she says she was inspired by the beautiful buildings in the towns and villages to become involved in the conservation of our historic environment, which led to her being awarded a CBE for services to conservation in 2007.

The Summation of the Summer School was led by Dr Edward McParland, who encapsulated the spirit of the school in these words,  ‘…if you are looking for progress for built heritage, what you want is a fiery spirit, to take the lead, encouraging others to bring the heritage of their town or village alive… Conservation can be hard work, but it also has to be fun. At Conservation Without Frontiers, we’ve had fun… the future [of conservation] belongs to the young’ . Ulster Architectural Heritage hopes to see the student attendees excel in careers in conservation, as previous attendees have done before them, and lead the way for the next generation; whether it be in architecture, engineering or another discipline.

Conservation Without Frontiers was directed by author and architectural historian, Kevin V. Mulligan, and chaired by UAH President, Primrose Wilson CBE. The school was kindly supported by Cavan County Council, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, The Creative Ireland Programme, Apollo Foundation, The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht through the Co-Operation with Northern Ireland Scheme and Hamilton Architects.

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