The Heritage Council has just announced the 2017 Community Heritage Grants Scheme, in addition to two further new schemes - a Grant Scheme for the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland Participants and a Thatch Conservation Grant Scheme.

The first of these, the 2017 Community Heritage Grants Scheme, will see €700,000 made available for a range of different projects and undertakings. The scheme aims to promote appreciation and enjoyment of heritage, and to make a lasting difference to heritage, people and communities. Through the Scheme the Heritage Council intends to reach out to new audiences and make heritage accessible to people with special needs, young adults and minorities, for example. They seek to support 'creative, engaging projects that provide a way for the public to learn about and manage our natural and cultural heritage'.

Many different projects can be applied for under the scheme ranging from surveys and audits of a range of heritage attributes, from wildlife to folklore, as well as report and plans, conservation works, National Heritage Week initiatives and community efforts to educated about and manage heritage.

In relation to all successful projects, work on same must have commenced by the end of May 2017 and will need to be completed by 17th November, 2017. In 2016, the scheme saw over 400 applications, 171 of which, were successful. These included six from the County of Cork totaling a sum of €38,400 - a considerable boost to heritage spend within the County. Successful projects included a conservation plan for a church and graveyard in Inchigeela, Conservation works at Donnybrook House, conservation of the wooden ship deck of the ILEN Vessel, conservation of Bandon's King Billy Flag, a conservation report for the Allin Institute Community Building in Bandon and a conservation plan for the O' Daly bardic school on the Sheep's Head peninsula. In 2017 it is anticipated that 150 plus applications will be successful and given the scope of projects that could be applied for it is hoped that the County of Cork will see a number of successful applications. The closing date for applications, all of which must be made online atwww.heritagecouncil.ie, is 5pm on Friday, 24th March, 2017.

The second Heritage Council Scheme is called the Caring for Collections Scheme. €50,000 has been made available for the scheme, which can only be applied for by existing museums/institutions already participating in the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). The third Heritage Council Scheme on offer is for those who intend to carry out good practice in thatch conservation. Under this scheme €70,000 is being made available nationally and one of the main aims is to ensure the longevity of thatching as a trade such that projects that include demonstration or teaching a trainee will in principle be very well received. The two aforementioned Grant Schemes also close on March 24th at 5pm and again it is hoped that the County of Cork will see a number of successful applications.