About Us

12805689_1012439802161233_2233660981729416512_nEarly medieval monastic research and Binion Hill survey field trip (February 2016). (Photo by Andrew Garvey Williams)

The West Inishowen History and Heritage Society was founded in 2008 after a public meeting in Buncrana Library chaired by the late Peter Gurrie (Chairperson 2008-2010). The first official committee meeting followed in January 2009. One of the society’s first tasks was to save Buncrana Lighthouse from demolition. In order to do this Peter and the society successfully gained local support and funding, resulting in the lighthouse being fully restored and placed on a plinth at Buncrana’s Shore Front in 2010 where it can be seen today. For their efforts the society was awarded first prize at the 2012 Heritage Council’s Tidy Towns Heritage Awards for the Buncrana Lighthouse Restoration Project. In 2014 WIHHS also won first prize at the Tidy Towns Heritage Awards for the Buncrana Heritage Trail.

10313129_670795482992335_1140372693848583668_nMay 2014: Launch of the award winning Buncrana Heritage Trail with Buncrana Town Council representatives and WIHH committee members. (Photo by Adam Rory Porter)

Between 2012 and 2014 society members formed a West Inishowen wing of the cross border/cross community History Links project. As part of this outstanding project the society made audio recordings of elderly residents in the west Inishowen area, researched and wrote articles for the project’s publications, attended genealogy workshops, created a coastal heritage walk, visited various museums and networked with other history societies in Inishowen and the northwest of Ireland. 

In June of each year the society stages its annual West Inishowen History and Heritage Summer School, where keynote speakers are invited to Buncrana to give talks. WIHHS also organise history walks, fun days, archaeological digs/surveys and other events during this week.

11425222_872059836199231_7588942096252176850_nSummer School – June 2015. Survey of Crockfadda (Desertegney). (Photo by Andrew Garvey Williams)

In August of each year the society runs several events in conjunction with National Heritage Week. For their 2015 ‘Archaeology for Kids’ event (during NHW) the society won first prize in the ‘Cool for Kids’ category at the National Heritage Council awards 2016. In addition the society organises history talks, walks and events throughout the year, along with quizzes and other fund raising events.

IMG_7726Chairman Michael Liam Gorry receives the National Heritage Week ‘Cool for Kids’ award from Chairman of the Heritage Council Board, Conor Newman (June 2016). Pictured left Andrew Garvey-Williams (WIH&HS Treasurer), and right John Hegarty (WIH&HS Vice-chair). (Photo by Andrew Garvey Williams)
WIHHS National Heritage Week programme August 2015

The society (who are not for profit) are always busy working on various short-term and long-term projects, some current ones include: cataloguing Mabel R. Calhoun’s vast collection in the Tower Museum; organising trips to relevant archives to increase awareness; documenting, researching and photographing vulnerable or deteriorating heritage structures and ensuring that the relevant authorities are contacted; organising various archaeological surveys; delivering conference papers with a west Inishowen theme; a biography of Harry Percival Swan; and creating a comprehensive bibliography of the west Inishowen area (due for online publication in 2018/19). In addition, the society is a current link member of the Donegal Public Participation Network (PPN).

1Members of WIH&HS researched, organised and ran an important exhibition (in conjunction with the Tower Museum, Derry) of selected items from the Mabel Colhoun Collection. The Exhibition ran as part of the UK’s ‘Festival of Archaeology 2016’ (July 26 2016) in the Guildhall (Derry~Londonderry). From left: Roisin Doherty and Annie Casey, (Derry City & Strabane Museum Services); Mari McLaughlin (WIH&HS); Dr. Michael Liam Gorry (Chair WIH&HS); Kyleen Clarke (Mabel Colhoun’s niece); Ronan McConnell (Tower Museum). From right: John Hegarty (WIH&HS); Denise Henry (Visit Inishowen/WIH&HS); Prof. Richard Clarke (QUB/historian); John McCarron (WIH&HS) and Hilary McClintock (Mayor of Derry). [Picture taken from www.inishowennews.com – 26 July 2016]

The society also publish various documents during the year, an annual report leaflet, an AGM document and release various academic style materials throughout the year.

The Society committee regularly meets in the Plaza, Main St., Buncrana. Present ongoing  projects include archiving the Mabel Colhoun Collection in conjunction with The Tower Museum, Derry; Preserving St. Mura’s with the Fahan Community Council and Church of Ireland, Fahan; Establishing cultural links with the Mid-Ulster Cenel Eoghain families and creating links with Grianan of Aileach, Burt and Tullyhogue Fort, outside Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Other regular activities  include field trips, talks, visits to historical centres, Summer School and National Heritage Week events.

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