Delegates from Fethard Historical Society attended the recent European Walled Towns annual conference in the walled city of Derry.
The three-day event was part of Derry’s programme of events for ‘Derry, UK City of Culture 2013’ and took place at the end of October.
Towns and cities from all over Europe were present, including The Netherlands, Austria, Malta, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Latvia as well as Ireland, England and Wales. The Fethard delegation were especially interested in meeting the Welsh townspeople as their walls were being constructed contemporaneously with the Walls of Fethard.
The Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN), of which Fethard is a member, received the 2013 EU Europa Nostra award for Cultural Heritage at a ceremony in Derry’s magnificent Guildhall. Michael Starrett, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, who accepted the award, mentioned Fethard in his acceptance speech
Fethard has received close on one million euro in funding between the Heritage Council, County Council and Fáilte Ireland over the past seven years and this all stemmed from the fact that Fethard has been a very active member of the Irish Walled Towns Network over this time. The annual membership fee of the IWTN is paid by our County Council and Fethard Historical Society ensures that a representative from Fethard attends the various events, throughout the year.
A visit into County Donegal formed part of the conference programme and an visit was made to Lifford Old Courthouse which has been turned into an active tourist reception centre, very similar to the ideas being discussed at present for Fethard’s old Town Hall. Information from Lifford, Lismore, the Hook Lighthouse and other tourist visitor centres will, hopefully, fashion a sustainable ‘Visitor’s Centre’ for Fethard in the coming year.