A key outcome of the Waterways Ireland Heritage Plan 2016-2020 was the urgent need for further documentation, conservation and advocacy for traditional heritage boats. Waterways Ireland deemed this a priority action which was flagged for delivery in Year 1 of the Plan. An innovative, collaborative project was initiated, involving relevant NGOs to document this important aspect of our Cultural Heritage. Furthermore the project brief ensured that a holistic model for traditional boat surveys was created which looked at not only traditional boats but also the language and terminology around traditional boats (which can significantly vary from navigation to navigation), an inventory of traditional boat builders, methods to showcase the boats on both GIS and open source mapping (ensuring as wide an audience as possible could benefit from the survey) and bespoke drawings of not only a representation of the boats (to scale) but also design highlights from the boats. This ensured a resource for education and awareness raising of traditional boats was secured.
This project was considered an unprecedented National success as it is the first ever systematic audit of traditional heritage boats of Irelands inland waterways. It was also the recipient of the Guardian Award at the 2016 World Canals Conference. This baseline assessment will be used to develop Irelands first classification system for traditional heritage boats that will hopefully inform future support schemes for traditional boats and advocate for their greater protection. It helped forge stronger relationships with our NGO stakeholders, especially the HBA and IWAI, through involving them from the earliest stages of project inception right through the collaborative project management process – empowering them and illustrating our commitment to partnering on heritage projects of shared purpose.
This initiative is continuing into 2017 with a similar survey of the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway.
Read the full Heritage Boat Survey here...
Download our leadlet on the Heritage Boats of Ireland below by clicking here.