Intangible cultural heritage encompasses the 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. Ireland ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in March 2016, and Uilleann Piping and Hurling were included on the interim National Intangible Cultural Inventory.
While Ireland’s tangible heritage (buildings, monuments, landscapes, structures and natural heritage) is well understood, the study and awareness of intangible cultural values is relatively new. For many professionals engaged in the conservation of tangible heritage, much of the literature on intangible heritage is found in unfamiliar disciplines such as sociology and anthropology, and it can be difficult to integrate these discussions into studies of or plans for the conservation of tangible heritage. I will be presenting a paper at IMaTTe 2017 – Intangibility Matters: International conference on the values of tangible heritage discussing case studies where intangible cultural heritage values have shaped practical conservation work at tangible cultural heritage sites.