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16/10/2021

Castlecomer Discovery Park is making its rich coal mining heritage accessible online

Castlecomer Discovery Park is making its rich coal mining heritage accessible online

Miners John Delaney and Seamus Walsh

As we celebrate Heritage Week, its an opportune time to look at how Covid-19 has impacted the way we access heritage. 

The pandemic has indeed severely impacted the arts, cultural and heritage sector worldwide: with many museums having to shut their doors for the best part of two years. 

It has made the sector more dynamic and has accelerated the pace of digitisation with many organisations making content accessible through websites and apps. 

One such project is Castlecomer Discovery Park, who are now nearing completion of the digital copy of their coal mining museum.  

“A digital transformation of our museum ensures access to and engagement with the associated heritage. In-person and remote visitor experiences will be enhanced significantly and enables an inclusive experience by eliminating geographic, physical disability and financial barriers to access. Our existing education and outreach programme will be augmented through more user-centred onsite visits and offers opportunities for impactful remote curriculum-linked learning” said  Nichola Salmon Education Officer at Castlecomer Discovery Park. 

As a result of The Heritage Council’s “Community Heritage Grant Scheme” the Discovery Park accessed funding to create a Virtual tours of the existing museum which will be available to download as an app.  

“Preserving our coal-mining heritage has been a key local concern since the mines closed in 1969. In 2007, the coal-mining museum opened in Castlecomer, providing a permanent acknowledgement of the area's identity and sense of place. This digital project provides an equality of access through modern, accessible digital platform, affirming the importance of Castlecomer and North Kilkenny’s mining heritage by sustaining the museum content into the future. The digital tour experience will reach diverse audiences connecting our coal-mining heritage with audiences & mining communities across Europe and the world.  We are looking forward to the diaspora from Kilkenny accessing this platform,” said the general manager of the Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kathy Purcell. 

The digital tour and app is being created by Digisoft, a Cork-based tech company with extensive experience in developing digital visitor cultural experience solutions to tourist attractions eg EPIC, Crawford Gallery. A B.Sc. in Computer Applications from Cork Institute of Technology.

“We would like to thank the Heritage Council for this support, this project will ensure that the story’s of the miners will be open to a much wider audience. We also think it’s something our dear colleague and friend Seamus Walsh would appreciate, Seamus passed away this year and he was passionate about keeping these stories alive,”  added Ms Purcell. 

Castlecomer Discovery Park is running a family friendly nature trail 'Be a Nature Detective' on August 19 and 20 as part of National Heritage Week. Book online at www.discoverypark.ie/booking

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