Stories from the Waterways
Core to this project was showcasing examples of social and community interactions with local environment and heritage assets - in particular the intangible cultural connections with same. In doing so we enhanced the knowledge and understanding of Ireland's heritage. By making digital media features which looked at a variety of demograohics (e.g. family units researching heritage in Pollagh, the Ribbontail Paddlers community canoeing gorup upgrading an old lock house and a communtiy regatta, as examples) we hoped to engage with young and old. Many of these groups aren’t afforded a national platform, as provided by our status as a North south Body, and by doing so we greatly aided their ability to illustrate this cultural and heritage success stories to the wider public. By hoating the promoting the videos online through social media as well as more conventional means on our website and at physical heritage events hosted by the Waterways Ireland Heritage Team we also sought to improve access to appreciating heritage, especially for young people. Anecdotally the community partners have advised that the feedback has been very positive. Assessing the analytics of the videos we can quantify that for the 9 features they have collectively been viewed over 22,000 in the 6 months since their launch across all platforms. Specifically: - On Youtube there has been 7,851 minutes (viewing time) - On Facebook this project has attained a Reach of 57,193 (the amount of times the videos appeared on screen) . There has also been strong engagement with 1,519 the amount of time users engaged e.g. liked or commented on the videos) . Finally an average industry reach versus engagement rate would be approximately 0.5 - 1%. Stories from the Waterways performed at over 3%, reaching a good-high engagement rating. This was achieved without buying ads to prom0te the videos and is all organic growth. Expected, and ultimately actual benefits, were directly linked to Ireland;s commitment to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the aim of which was to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe's cultural heritage, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space. These features accomplished just that by employing innovative approaches and utilising digital platforms and engaging through social media, maximising domestic and international engagement. By including a lot of young people in the filming of these features we hope to attract and inspire the younger generation to experience their heritage. By linking non conventional but experiential activities like walking along a heritage waterway, canoeing our showcasing the latest technology in heritage collection (Google Trekker Loan Programme) we aimed to highlight what is beautiful, accessible and rich in heritage to all. Such assets could be appreciated online through watching these videos but ultimately we hoped it would animate and encourage people to experience them in real time. The features followed a diverse range of cultural and heritage issues including: 1. Row the Erne: This film brings to life the work of the fantastic community group Row the Erne, who meet every Saturday to do just that - row on Lough Erne. Olivia Cosgrove tells us about the founding of the club and how it gives novices an opportunity to get on the water and experience the waterway landscape from a unique perspective - 2. Brickmakers of Pollagh: The story of how clay, brick making and the coming of the Grand Canal led to a cottage industry in Pollagh, Co. Offally. The Devery family tell the story - 3. Ribbontail Paddlers: Having started a canoeing club in Co. Meath a group of parents took on the job of sympathetically restoring an old lock-keepers cottage to serve the local community on the Royal Canal - 4. Portna Workshop: Replacing lock gates or sluice gates is are rare occurrence on our waterways. Joiner Bradden Braillie who works on the Lower Bann Navigation is used to dealing with technologies that are hundreds of years old and explains how it’s all done - 5. The Callows: Archaeologist Christy Cunniffe visits the Callows on the banks of the Shannon Navigation in Co. Galway, site of a once thriving community now almost completely vanished. This film is a fitting legacy to the resilient families who once populated this ‘island of land’ between the Shannon and Grand Canal - 6. Graiguenamanagh Regatta: The Langton family have been competing in the Graiguenamanagh Regatta on the Barrow Navigation for generations. In 2018 Paul and his daughter Hannah participated in the famous Kilkenny regatta – watch to see how they got on and how everyone comes together on the Barrow for a wonderful community event - 7. Athy Boat Tours: A great community initiative, Athy boat tours takes people for a leisurely trip down the Barrow Line, through an old lock gate. Skipper Chris McKenna is our guide - 8. Ballyconnell Looped Walk: Two Cavan friends enjoy their weekly stroll by the Shannon-Erne Waterway, taking in all the pleasures of walking by the water - 9. Google Trekker Loan Programme: See how Waterways Ireland used the Google Streetview camera to catch, for the first time in Ireland, the unique experience of the Shannon from the water and how this represents a new way of mapping our heritage - This project showcased the importance of interagency cooperation and community engagement. Managed by Waterway Ireland, we leveraged contributions from the Heritage Officer Network for 6 features in the Republic of Ireland and made the focus of these films the communities involvement with their local environment and heritage assets. Additionally it highlighted public sector innovation by modern management of heritage structures and use of the Google Trekker camera to capture the Shannon - a first in Ireland. We are indebted also to the vision and direction from filmmaker Paul Murphy of Merchants Gate Films who was the successful contractor awarded the contract to develop these features.

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