National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage
Introduction to NSC / WG
The National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (NSCICH) was established to promote the protection of Ireland’s Intangible Cultural Heritage under the auspices of ICOMOS Ireland. UNESCO describes Intangible Cultural Heritage as follows: ‘Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.’ (en.unesco.org). The initiative for the establishment of the Committee arose out of a meeting of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held in Dublin in October 2010.
NSC / WG Objectives
The Committe strives to further the interests and promote the protection of all aspects of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Ireland, with a view to ensuring that that the indivisibility of ICH and our physical cultural heritage is acknowledged and valued accordingly. In pursuit of these objectives, members of the Committee work in cooperation with organisations such as the National Folklore Collection in University College Dublin, and with the Department of Cutlure, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. All ICOMOS Ireland members with an interest in intangible cultural heritage are invited to join the Committee.
Recent Activities and Programme of Work
- The Committee lobbied for the ratification by Ireland of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Ratification took place in December 2015.
- A member of the Committee serves on the Advisory Group established by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht towards the compilation of a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, following ratification of the Convention. The first National Inventory was launched in July 2019.
- The Committee works to promote the ideals of the Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2005. In this connection, a research and advocacy publication entitled Other Stories has been compiled by a member of the Committee in response to the principles of the Convention.
- The Committee has organised lectures for members of ICOMOS Ireland on matters relating to Intangible Cultural Heritage. Subjects have included the 2003 UNESCO Convention on ICH, and the history of hurling in Ireland, following the inscription of hurling onto the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- At the invitation of a Committee member, the annual Maura Shaffrey Memorial Lecture will be delivered in 2020 by Clara Arokiasamy, President of ICOMOS UK and Chair of that organisation’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee.
Online resources on Intangible Cultural Heritage include the following publications:
Links to external relevant sources
The text of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), and further information on the Convention, are available at:
Further information on Intangible Cultural Heritage globally is available at:
Information on the work of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the area of Intangible Cultural Heritage is available at:
The Irish National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage is available at:
Information about the National Folklore Collection/Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann at University College Dublin is available at:
Jack Harrison: With 25 years experience in Interpretive projects from standard exhibitions to highly interactive installations for children, Jack Harrison is a leading Interpretive Consultant. He is a pioneer in the study and application of Heritage Interpretation in Ireland and an acknowledged expert at making complex concepts accessible to a non-specialist audience. Jack has an MA in Irish Folklore and is the only Irish Fellow of the Association for Heritage Interpretation, an honour only given on the basis of excellence in past work.
Gillian Lattimore is the ICOMOS Ireland Administrator (2016 to present) and a member of the ICOMOS Ireland World Heritage Working Group. Gillian holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree (UCD), a post graduate certificate in World Heritage Conservation (UCD) and an MA in Digital Cultures (UCC).
Dr Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh is director of the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. He has some 30 years experience of working in the cultural heritage sector, and his research interests include vernacular architecture, maritime ethnology, and oral literature.
Paul McMahon Dip. Arch., M.Arch.Con., MRIAI: Vice President of ICOMOS Ireland and the International Scientific Committee on Education and Training Committee (Europe), Paul is also the ICOMOS representative on the EU Voices of Culture consultative group and convenor of the ICOMOS Ireland Faro Advocacy Group.
Fidelma Mullane: Emphasising vernacular knowledge and skills as important aspects of intangible culture, Fidelma Mullane specialises in the study, documentation and conservation of vernacular architecture.
Bairbre Ní Fhloinn lectures in Irish Folklore and Ethnology in the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, University College Dublin. She is initiator and Director of the recently established MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology.
For further information on the Committee, please contact the membership secretary of ICOMOS Ireland, Mary-Liz McCarthy, at email@example.com.