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Introduction to our local heritage
of all, we wrote everything up on the blackboard, for example, what we knew
already and what we wanted to do or needed to do. We debated the reason why
there is no tourist office or tourist brochure in Portlaw. We felt sorry for any
tourist trying to find out about our heritage. Then we decided to stop talking
and to do the best thing: we took to the streets that very afternoon. We
continued to walk around Portlaw for several days. We spoke to amazing people
such as Johnny Crotty, Maurice Long, Jim Timmons, Philomena Walsh, Kenny Bowers
and many others. In the evenings, we interviewed our grandparents and relations
about our town. Local historian, Willie Power, lent us a big box of information
and all the wisdom in his head! We were especially inspired by his old photos,
which we displayed all around the school for several months.
Johnny Crotty, who is very fit, brought us on a long walk to Kilbunny
Church. That was one of the highlights.
The fact of actually going around the town and asking people who have
been living in the town for years questions was great fun instead of going to
the computer or books the whole time. We all wrote down what we knew on our
walks and exchanged information back in the classroom. Using computers and books
is fine some of the time but it’s great to ask real people. What we were
trying to do is show people that just because we are a small town doesn’t mean
we don’t have a lot of history because we do! There are ghost stories, songs,
sayings and a lot of facts to make it interesting.
Heritage means the things people have inherited and we in Portlaw have
inherited so much. We are taking in so much knowledge, our brains are expanding
as well. We all wish we were able to keep it neatly listed in our heads. The
pupils of Portlaw National School wish we could cram everything we found out
into this project. It feels like we are trying to count all the stars in the sky
as we try to unearth all the heritage of Portlaw. Our heritage is not just in
the school, it stretches along the streets, forgotten, waiting to be
One day, during a brainstorming session, we decided that we would weave
our walks into this project. We got the big idea to design a trail of Portlaw.
The people following the trail can follow in our footsteps. They can find out
about our town the way we did, by looking at the buildings and hearing the
stories they have to tell. Better still, we would upload our trail onto our
website www.portlawns.com and then our tourist could follow the story of our
heritage virtually from his or her desktop.
We launched our trail on June 7th and invited Willie Power and
Johnny Crotty back to see how we did. They helped us to fact check all our facts
and they were impressed. You can check it out if you like. We made it for
tourists and for future generations. Maybe they will write about us in years to
Our timeline of Portlaw’s history with our historians in the background.
is for heritage town…we want Portlaw to
is for everyone who worked on this project
is for Rockett’s Castle built by the
is for industries like Portlaw Bakery
is for Tannery that was once a Cotton Mill
is for Alms House on Williams Street
is for Grotto built for Mary our Mother
is for educating ourselves about Our Local
By Una Howley
Our village in clay. As we all modelled our village of Portlaw, we imagined what it was like for the Malcomsons to plan it in the first place.
As we began to wrap up our project, we sent this letter to a few people involved with heritage. Read it to uncover how we were progressing in our quest to show the significance of Portlaw’s heritage.
ISN’T PORTLAW A HERITAGE TOWN?
We know the Heritage
Council published a book called The Heritage Conservation Plan for
Portlaw County Waterford. We know it was launched at Woodlock in 2003.
know that Portlaw was one of the only purpose-built towns in Ireland in the 19th
Century. The Industrial Revolution came to our town even though it passed over
most of the rest of Ireland. We believe that no one died of starvation during
the famine in Portlaw because the town was so wealthy due to the operation of
the cotton mill. We have lots of buildings designed by the architect J.S.
Mulvany. We also have all the history that is attached to Lord Waterford’s
estate at Curraghmore. We even have a fulacht fiadh in the area.
WHY ISN’T PORTLAW A HERITAGE TOWN?
you be able to answer our question for us, please? Also, would you be able to
tell us if any new developments have occurred that will help to preserve our
model village and other attractions for future generations?
From some of the replies we got, we learnt that the designation of Heritage Town is becoming a thing of the past. We got lots of advice and learnt that it is important to keep the stories of our town alive.
We hope to use some of the advice to develop our Portlaw National School website further.