Rural Heritage and Tourism in Ireland: A Co. Mayo Case Study
Much of Ireland’s heritage is by default a rural one, and tourism is a mainstay of many rural livelihoods. This chapter examines constructs of rural heritage and rural tourism set within the academic literature but also within policy contexts, both national and regional. A typological approach to different classes of heritage will be presented in the form of case studies. The section on Neolithic rural heritage tourism examines the site of the Céide Fields; that focusing on intangible rural heritage takes the town of Westport as an example and assesses music, festivals, the arts, Croagh Patrick and the coast as sites for tourism engagement; the section on natural rural heritage examines Ballycroy National Park; and a final section critiques how the Museum of Country Life interprets and presents themes of rural heritage to visitors. Subsequently the chapter provides a narrative on how differing forms of the rural (landscape, society, performance and culture) are commodified in heritage tourism contexts across the county. The approach taken allows readers of this text access to example-rich case studies, set within a relevant definitional and analytical framework.