The Kerry Heritage Award, presented by the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society annually, honours individuals and organisations who have made a major contribution in the areas of research, development, and/or promotion of the County’s culture and heritage. The recipient of the 2022 Kerry Heritage Award is Cara Trant, Director/Curator of Kerry Writers’ Museum, Listowel.
President of The Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, Jimmy Deenihan, in presenting the award, said that Cara Trant was a worthy recipient of the prestigious Kerry Heritage Award and now joins the list of distinguished honourees who have received the award in the past. Since Cara was appointed Director of Kerry Writers Museum back in 1999 she has been instrumental in developing the centre into a unique cultural hub that has been acclaimed by visitors from all over the world. The success of Kerry’s Writers Museum is due to Cara’s commitment and her willingness to work beyond the call of duty – sometimes late into the night – to ensure that the programmes and events that she organises and curates are current and appropriate.
A graduate of the University of Limerick, Cara Trant has been Director/Curator of Kerry Writers’ Museum, Listowel since 1999. Prior to this she worked as Development Officer for the LEADER Rural Development Programme in North Kerry. Kerry Writers’ Museum is a community owned and operated not-for-profit organisation which celebrates and promotes the rich literary and cultural heritage of County Kerry through interactive audio-visual exhibits. Cara was responsible for overseeing the development of this €1.6m project from the construction phase to the establishment of a dynamic community enterprise catering for visitors to Listowel and working with local groups and schools in developing artistic & cultural activities.
In 2015 Cara applied to the Heritage Council for museum accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland. The Museum obtained full accreditation in 2018 and successfully maintained its accreditation in 2022.
In 2018 she curated a new permanent history exhibition in the museum entitled ‘Listowel through the Ages’ which traces the history of Listowel and North Kerry from ancient times, through medieval Ireland, the Famine and the turbulent years of war and independence.
As part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme, Cara has undertaken a number of projects with KWM Board members Jimmy Deenihan and Tom Dillon, commemorating events in North Kerry during this period including:
• Listowel Policy Mutiny 1920 – the production of an online exhibition and documentary film
• War of Independence 1921 – Online lecture series and production of a documentary film
• Work is currently underway on a programme to commemorate the Civil War in North Kerry.
In 2021 Cara curated a new permanent exhibition on the history of amateur drama in County Kerry, in conjunction with theatre historian and archivist Dr. Fiona Brennan. The exhibition entitled ‘Raising the Curtain on Kerry’s Amateur Drama Heritage’ also involved:
• Collection of material including programmes, posters, photos and play scripts
• Oral history – interviews with people across the County regarding their memories of
involvement in amateur drama.
• Cataloguing the existing amateur drama archival collection at Kerry Writers’ Museum
The long-term objective of the project is to have amateur drama included on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ireland.
In 2023 Cara will introduce a new exhibition on celtic illumination to Kerry Writers’ Museum, with the donation of artwork by Michael O’Connor (1913-1969), who grew up in the Georgian residence that now houses the museum.