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Irish heritage Week has started , with more than 1,000 cultural events being held all around the country.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley officially launched the seven-day programme in Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park.
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The estate will be open to the public from 2pm for wildlife walks, tours, historical children's games, music, natural heritage activities and a food fair.
Now in its 15th year, Heritage Week features activities as varied as bat walks at dusk, historical re-enactments and summer camps to lectures and storytelling.
Sunday marked designated Walled Towns Heritage Day, with events taking place in 22 walled towns around the country.

Water Heritage Day will be celebrated next Saturday, when a number of events will showcase the recreational aspects of the country's canals and inland waterways.
Stately homes offering free or reduced admission will be open to the public, while the doors on many of the great Georgian houses around Merrion Square will also be opened for a special open day on September 1.
For the first time this year every county is participating in Heritage Week.
"The diversity and range of activities taking place during the coming week speaks volumes about our national interest and pride in our culture. The growing number of people, especially at local level, involved in organising events and encouraging others to become involved demonstrates the keen interest the public has in our towns and villages, our wildlife and landscapes and our changing sense of identity. It is inspiring to see that so many are willing to give generously of their time to their communities and neighbourhoods. The quality of life for our children is dependent on the stewardship we provide today. It is not what we accumulate and acquire but what we conserve and share that will determine the quality of life for our children."

Irish Heritage Week will run from 25th August 2nd September 2007. Its a week long celebration of who we are and where weve come from. Heritage Week is part of European Heritage Days, a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union. In Ireland Heritage Week is co-ordinated by the Heritage Council with support from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

What is Irish Heritage week?
Each year many national and hundreds of local community organisations participate by organising events throughout the country. There is something to appeal to almost everyone and the main aim is to build awareness of our built, natural and cultural heritage thereby encouraging its conservation and preservation.

What's On during Irish heritage week?
There is something taking place in every county and most activities are free of charge or offer great value for money. Everyone is encouraged to get involved and activities range from fairs, night-time bat walks, wildlife tours and lectures to music recitals, historical re-enactments, and outdoor activities. Many heritage sites and stately homes will offer free admission or special concessions.

Farmleigh House
Farmleigh, an estate of 78 acres situated to the north-west of Dublin's Phoenix Park, was purchased from the Guinness family by the Irish Government in 1999 for 29.2m. The house has been carefully refurbished by the Office of Public Works as the premier accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high level Government meetings, and for public enjoyment.

Originally a small Georgian house built in the late 18th century, Farmleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) on his marriage to his cousin, Adelaide Guinness in 1873. A great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the eponymous brewery, Edward Cecil became the first Earl of Iveagh in 1919. The first major building programme was undertaken in 1881-84 to designs by Irish architect James Franklin Fuller (1832-1925), who extended the House to the west, refurbished the existing house, and added a third storey. In 1896 the Ballroom wing was added, designed by the Scottish architect William Young (1843-1900).

With the addition of a new Conservatory adjoining the Ballroom in 1901, increased planting of broadleaves and exotics in the gardens, Farmleigh had, by the early years of the 20th century, all the requisites for gracious living and stylish entertainment. Its great charm lies in the eclecticism of its interior decoration ranging from the classical style to Jacobean, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Georgian.
In 2001 the Office of Public Works began the delicate job of restoring this magnificent estate. This was carried out with great delicacy and care so as the historical ambience at Farmleigh has been preserved as it assumes its new role on behalf of the Irish State.

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