Abbeyfeale – Where community spirit connects to a rich heritage

HERITAGE is something Abbeyfeale has in abundance. Throw a stone and it will likely fall on a spot were Daniel O’Connell mounted a stage-coach or where monks tended to the spiritual needs of the community.

And the Abbeyfeale Heritage Committee is on a journey to make sure that the people who live in the town know all about it and spread the word to bring visitors in.

Ruari Dennison, a local man, committee member, artist and monument conservationist told the Limerick Post that the committee is on a mission.

“Understanding the history of a place is very important to a community,” he said.

Ruari explained that one area of the town’s heritage that has been all but lost is the history of the Abbey site which gives the town its name.

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“But we are trying to rediscover it. We’ve got funding from the National Heritage Council and we are looking at quite a large number of documents”.

The heritage group has operated in a number of forms over the years and is now affiliated with the Abbeyfeale Community Council, a registered charity.

“We’re managing to make more progress by being involved with the council in terms of drawing down funding for the various projects,” said Ruari.

The committee stages events to illustrate the rich history of the town and to get local people involved.

Coming up are a number of re-enactment events including one on Sunday, August 26 as part of National Heritage Week.

The site of the old Abbey will be the centre of the event, where re-enactors in Medieval costume will take the town back in time, demonstrating skills such as stone cutting and woodcarving and showing life as it was in days gone by.

Ruari will be very unlike himself, dressed in a monk’s costume for the occasion.

“We want to encourage local people and cultivate engagement with the historical sites. Understanding the narrative of the town’s historic development will bring about a sense of pride in the place. Our history should be a source of enjoyment for locals and visitors alike”.

“We want to send out the message that Abbeyfeale has a story to tell,” he explained.