This research project originally came out of an opportunity to collaborate with some international students from the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Pennsylvania that were coming to Galway to take part in a hands-on experience of heritage conservation. That group was led by Donovan Rypkema, adjunct professor at the Department of Historic Preservation at UPenn, and also a member of ICOMOS. At Stage 1 of our project, we worked alongside the UPenn students, who did mapping exercises and additional surveying. The results of their work can be downloaded below.
The first two stages of the project used the town of Gort, Co. Galway as a case study. At Stage 1 we tried out some pilot surveying techniques in order to record and categorise information on some of the buildings and streets of the town.
The survey template that was used can be downloaded below. An accompanying sheet with guidance on assessing the condition of structures and building elements can also be downloaded below.
In this case, the survey template was quite detailed, as we were interested in capturing various types of data, and we were investigating which types of information could be usefully recorded and analysed. However, more simple templates can also be prepared, which would make for quicker and more focused surveys (see sample templates in My HomeTown).
For Stage 2 we held a workshop in Gort Public Library during Heritage Week at which members of the public took part in a mental mapping exercise which was designed to encourage the participants to observe the town with fresh eyes and to record their observations. This was followed by a very interesting discussion, during which various aspects of the town were debated. The information poster that we prepared for the event can be downloaded below.
A base map was prepared using maps downloaded from myplan.ie, from which website both historical and current maps are available (for more information on mapping and other useful resources see My HomeTown). This allowed us to assess the extents of the historic core of the town, which then formed the area for the base map. It is a very useful and interesting exercise to compare the historic maps with the contemporary maps, and to trace the development of a town or village over time. Very often the characteristic quirks of a town in its own particular building or street layouts can be identified and explained, deepening our understanding of a place. A report of the workshop process and outcomes can be downloaded below.