On Thursday 13th October Irish Seed Savers Association was the venue for the latest in-person launch of ‘Other Stories, Cultural Heritage & Society’. Our beautiful site was a hive of activity as staff, volunteers and students from ALFA Steiner Secondary School gathered with representatives of International Council on Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) Ireland.

ICOMOS Ireland funded the free book which showcases the work and importance of fifteen culture, heritage and society projects on the island of Ireland, including Irish Seed Savers and gives a voice to those involved in the form of personal reflections.

Speaking at the launch, Fidelma Mullane, President of ICOMOS Ireland, said:

“The Faro Convention emphasises the important aspects of heritage as they relate to human rights and democracy. It promotes a wider understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society. The Convention encourages us to recognise that objects and places are not, in themselves, what is important about cultural heritage. They are important because of the meanings and uses that people attach to them and the values they represent”.

Head of Irish Seed Savers Association, Elaine Bradley welcomed the publication and the vital role it plays in showcasing the community-led approach to heritage conservation at Irish Seed Savers. Ms Bradley said that “Not alone does Irish Seed Savers curate the heritage seed and apple trees entrusted to our care, but we preserve the stories and memories of those who have tended and maintained these vital plant genetic resources through generations”.

“In this time of catastrophic biodiversity loss, the plant genetic materials we hold are the building blocks of future food systems and the stories associated with them are the blue prints for their use – wisdom gleaned over generations”.

The publication captures the invaluable work done by Irish Seed Savers Association and examines how it and each of the featured projects started, what sustains them, and their broader impact as well as how they give us all a much greater appreciation of heritage and its relationship to communities and society.

The launch is part of a nation-wide tour which also visits Mayo and Fermanagh and ends in Dublin in late November. Free copies of Other Stories are available at each event, thanks to the generosity, support and funding from the Heritage Council, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company.

Other Stories was launched at an online event by Heritage and Electoral Reform Minister, Malcolm Noonan, T.D., as part of the ICOMOS Ireland annual Maura Shaffrey Lecture during the pandemic. ICOMOS Ireland undertook the research and advocacy project to highlight the spirit and principles of  the Faro Convention as expressed in an Irish context.

The specially selected projects included in the book are X-PO, 14 Henrietta Street, The Bridge Street Project, Kilmuckridge Song Project, Diamond War Memorial, Foyle Punt, Meitheal Mara, Battles, Bricks and Bridges, Headford Lace Project, Great Western Greenway, Irish Seed Savers, Thomastown Community River Trust, Bi Urban, Migrant Women: Shared Experiences, Missling on the Tobar.

The tour, coordinated by Workhouse Union, continues with launches Mayo at the Country Life Museum on October 27; in Arney in Fermanagh on November 10 and culminating in Dublin on November 24.

Events are co-produced with local hosts and include a mixture of talks, community engagement workshops and hospitality and the public is invited to attend.

For more about the publication itself, visit https://www.icomos.ie/resources/