PRESIDENT of Laois Heritage Society and Portlaoise resident Michael Parsons has been appointed to the Heritage Council of Ireland, and he already has high hopes that he can advance a big project to revitalise one of the most historic parts of the county town.
Appointed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, Mr Parsons attended his first meeting with the Council last week.
“I’m very pleased with being appointed to the Heritage Council as I am very interested in heritage. I am very encouraged with the great work that the Heritage Council are doing,” he told the Leinster Express.
Many people in Portlaoise and around the county will be familiar with Mr Parsons and the work that he has done with the Laois Heritage Society. He has been part of the society since it formed in 1975 and is the current president, having also served as chairman. He is very passionate about preserving heritage, especially in Laois.
“I am very anxious about Fort Protector in Portlaoise. It would be great to have a museum and a research or commemorative centre there, as it would be very good at helping to re-develop the heart of Portlaoise,” he said.
Mr Parsons will take part in a number of meetings with the Heritage Council throughout his term, which is a four year appointment.
“The heritage society are involved with many projects, including the recent book on thatched houses in Laois. The society is also involved with canals, old houses, a past way of life, architecture, archaeology, the list goes on,” he said.
As well as his involvement with both the Laois Heritage Society and the Heritage Council, Mr Parsons has a track record of many years promoting awareness in heritage locally, particularly amongst young people and in schools.
He spent most of his career as principal of Portlaoise College (formerly Portlaoise Vocational School), retiring in 2008. He also served as President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) in 2004-2005 and has served on several of their committees promoting arts, heritage and culture in schools.
Dr Ciara Breathnach, Mr Ted Creedon, Ms Catherine Heaney, Dr Fidelma Mullane, and Dr Kieran O’Conor are also to serve on the Heritage Council.
Minister Deenihan said of the appointments: “I am delighted that each of these six appointees has accepted my invitation to serve on the Council. Their collective expertise will bring valuable and diverse talents to bear on the work of the Council and further complement the existing skill set of the board.”