Killybegs History & Heritage Committee has been invited to take part with a number of top universities, museums and technology companies in an international three-year, multi-million euro project to bring history to life through digital augmented reality apps.

The Killybegs involvement was at the invitation of Judith McCarthy, Curator of Donegal County Museum.  This is the only group in Ireland to be involved in the project which is being led by Museum Nord in Oslo and also involves top-level participants in Iceland and Scotland.

The project is entitled "Connected Culture & Natural Heritage in the Northern Environment", (CINE for short) and is subtitled "See into the past".

Judith McCarthy, who is also a member of the board of the National Museum of Ireland, said that Donegal County Museum has a very key role to play in preserving and protecting our cultural inheritance, ‘Not only because of its importance to the local community but also its intrinsic value from a national and international perspective.’

The digital input to the Killybegs project will be provided by a high-level team from Ulster University Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, led by Dr Joan Condell.

Mr Derek Vial, chairman of Killybegs History & Heritage Committee said, "We are honoured and delighted to be invited to take part in this fascinating project which will have major long-term benefits for the town and its heritage.

"Killybegs is a designated Historic & Heritage Town with major historical and archaeological riches.  This work will help to ensure the preservation of those treasures and will also make them available in new and exciting ways for students and visitors."

Thanking Ms McCarthy for her invitation to participate, Mr Vial added that the first phase of the work in the town would be centred around the heritage complex at St Catherine's Well, Kit's Castle and St Catherine's Church and Graveyard.

In this regard, he said, “A tremendous vote of thanks is due to the St Catherine's community response scheme, led by Hugh Boyle and Philip Kemp, which had carried out painstaking research over many years, culminating in the publication of their book, ‘St Catherine's Church and Graveyard and the Medieval Town of Killybegs.’”

Others involved in this project include St Andrew's University in Scotland, Oslo University in Norway and the Gunnar Gunnarssons Institute in Iceland.

A meeting was held in Killybegs last week attended by representatives of Ulster University and Donegal County Museum to view the St Catherine's complex and discus the outline of the project with Killybegs History & Heritage Committee.

It was explained that CINE aims to transform people's experiences of outdoor heritage sites through technology, building on the idea of museums without walls.

Attendees at the meeting were told that: "New digital interfaces such as augmented reality, virtual-world technology and easy-to-use apps will bring the past alive and help to imagine the future."

Judith McCarthy explained, "We will develop content management toolkits enabling curators, archivists, historians and anyone who wants to create innovative heritage projects to create unique on-site and off-site customer experiences in specific locations.

"More broadly, CINE will explore the social, economic and political role of heritage within our remote communities and develop best practice to shape relevant environmental policies."

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