It is Abarta Heritage’s 5th Birthday today. We launched Abarta on the 25th June 2012, and since then we have worked on numerous projects that help to tell the incredible story of Ireland’s past. To celebrate our birthday, we thought we’d give an insight into what motivated us to start our company, the type of work that we do, and what our future plans are.
Why We Started Abarta Heritage
The Origins of Abarta Heritage
Abarta was created by Neil Jackman and Róisín Burke in 2012. Both Neil and Róisín had extensive experience in archaeology and had worked all over the country on a wide-variety of excavations from 1999 up until the economic crash in around 2008. As commercial archaeology was deeply dependent upon construction (primarily road construction), the crash completely decimated the archaeological profession in Ireland.
Both Neil and Róisín did manage to continue for some time, writing reports and completing small surveys, but it had become clear that it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue to work full-time in commercial archaeology. However, both Neil and Róisín were passionate to continue to work in heritage. Róisín worked for a number of seasons as a tour guide on the famous Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, and Neil guided at Trim Castle in the Boyne Valley of County Meath, following some time surveying archaeological sites in Western Australia. Róisín also enjoyed her time working at Dublinia where she taught archaeology and helped to train students to become tour guides. Neil also taught Diploma courses in Irish archaeology in Sligo, at St Angela’s College (National University of Ireland, Galway). Through this experience, it became clear that there was opportunity to tell the stories of Ireland in new and engaging ways, and so Abarta Heritage was born.
The Work of Abarta Heritage
In our five years, we have produced more than 25 audio guides and audio books that help to tell the story of Ireland’s past. We have also had the great privilege to work with a wide variety of clients, from County Councils, Local Development Companies and National Institutions. Some of our recent projects have been focused on helping and empowering communities to tell their own stories, and to take an active role in the management of their local heritage. One of the most rewarding projects that we are currently engaged with, is the Adopt a Monument Scheme on behalf of the Heritage Council, where we are currently working with thirteen different communities across the country to help them to conserve, protect, manage and maintain a wide variety of monuments. We have also worked with a number of communities to help them to tell their stories through our bespoke tour-guide training courses. Including a recent highly successful course in Clondalkin with the Clondalkin Round Tower Heritage Group.
In recent weeks, we have also recently completed regional studies on the heritage landscapes of the River Liffey, and another on the Dublin Mountains. These research and evaluation projects are important to highlight the archaeology and heritage of the regions, to engage with the wider community, and to provide frameworks for the protection and promotion of the heritage for the future. With similar ambition, one of the most exciting initiatives we have undertaken recently is the Hellfire Club Archaeological Project. This collaborative and multi-disciplinary project aims to discover more about the story of the iconic Dublin site, and is informed by a number of different experts and specialists.
Excitingly, we have had the honour of our work being added to the Digital Repository of Ireland, where our audio books produced for Transport Infrastructure Ireland form part of an enormous multi-media collection that is now freely available for people to search and discover.
As a company, we are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work on projects such as these, that we hope will have a positive effect on the preservation and understanding of Ireland’s heritage.
Our future plans
We are so fortunate to be able to help to contribute to work that we find meaningful and positive, and so we hope to continue projects such as these for the future. We have a number of audio guides in the works at present, along with another guidebook for Collins Press to follow on from Neil’s acclaimed guide to Ireland’s Ancient East that launched last year. This new guidebook will highlight the historical treasures of the Wild Atlantic Way, and touring the wonderful landscapes and sites of Ireland’s western coast has been a real highlight of the year so far. We are currently working on the post-excavation analysis of our Hellfire Club dig from last October, and we anxiously await our imminent radiocarbon dating results that might provide an insight into when the tomb was constructed, and the analysis from a number of specialists and experts who are looking into the different material recovered during the dig. This process should all be complete before the Winter, and so we hope to add another small chapter to the story of that remarkable place.
Over the last five years we have grown Abarta slowly, and along with Neil and Róisín we are lucky to have fantastic and experienced professionals like Dr Conor Ryan and Geni Murphy as part of the team, and of course Declan Lonergan who provides vital insights and ideas along with endless skills as a sound engineer. We are also thankful to the array of acting talent who have voiced our stories, particularly regulars like the talented Gerry O’Brien, Niamh Shaw and Sharon Mannion. Importantly we are also grateful to our families for all of their support, which often involves them being dragged around ancient monuments! And of course to the Chief Exploring Officer of Abarta – Peig the dog!
We are also deeply thankful to all the fantastic clients, communities and collaborators who we have worked with over the past five years.
And finally, we want to thank you, our readers, downloaders, commenters, likers and listeners, we do this for you, and we are deeply appreciative of your support. Let’s hope the next 5 years continue to go well, and that we get the opportunity to tell more stories of Ireland!
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