Williamstown Heritage Society was formed in the year 2000 with the two principal aims of raising awareness of heritage matters generally, and of highlighting the many excellent heritage features which we have in our own parish, involving all three heritage strands, the natural, the cultural and the built. I think that we can claim with some justification that we have realised our aims in a significant way in the intervening years. We have successfully organised heritage conferences, seminars and meetings of various kinds, including countywide and even nationwide ones, we have put in position a number of heritage signs and maps relating to several of our local heritage treasures, we have taken groups to a number of special places in our parish, we have taken groups on many heritage tours to various parts of the country, we have organised a very successful local 1916 commemmoration, and we have done a great amount of local research, involving our own members, young people on various student summer schemes and the community in general.
In addition to the above, we have completed two landmark projects since our foundation. With the support of, and on behalf of the community, we purchased Templetogher Corn Mill, conserved it, and restored it so that it can now operate fully as in the past. In the same vicinity, we have restored the kiln, developed a forge, erected a building to house our large collection of old farm machinery and other artefacts, rebuilt from the ground up the miller’s cottage, landscaped the area, replaced non-native trees with native ones, developed modern kitchen and toilet areas, and put in position a number of information boards relating to all of the above.
For our second landmark project, we published in 2013 a huge book “Wiliamstown/Templetogher Parish – Our People and Landscape”, which covers in detail every one of our 50 townlands, every house in each townland, including the disappeared ones and every family in each townland as far back as possible through the generations. In addition to this, we included in the book all the features in every townland, down to the names on the various fields. Needless to say, this book has proved to be an invaluable resource for all those interested in studying our past and our rich heritage.
As a result of all of our efforts, we have picked up several County Heritage Awards and also National Heritage Awards in our comparatively short existence, and it is always rewarding when your efforts are recognised by others.