News Blog

Please check our Events Calendar for any upcoming events!

Join our tourism network!

If you’re from the Cambrian, Wicklow, Preseli or Blackstairs Mountains and would like to be a part of this network, please fill out the appropriate Expression of Interest form below. We’re seeking people from the hospitality sector, to arts and crafts, to visitor attractions, to local community members etc.

Foel Drygarn and Gors Fawr Workshop

02 February 2023

CUPHAT and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority (PCNPA) have been collaborating on an interpretation project focusing on digitising and reconstructing Foel Drygarn Hillfort and Gors Fawr Stone Circle in the Preseli Mountains. On 2nd February, a workshop was held in Maenclochog Community Hall to share our progress. We had fantastic community support with the room bursting full of people. The evening started with a talk from Jessica Domiczew (DAT) on the sites and she showcased the digitised version of Gors Fawr Stone Circle and the artefacts from Foel Drygarn Hillfort which reside at Tenby Museum. The evening then followed with a talk by Peter Lorimer from Pighill Heritage Graphics who has been commissioned to reconstruct Foel Drygarn Hillfort. Peter joined virtually and shared his impressive work with us. Keep following CUPHAT to see more reconstructions as they are revealed throughout the coming months.

Exploring the Cambrian Mountains through LiDAR workshop

19 January 2023

CUPHAT had a great turn out for the ‘Exploring the Cambrian Mountains through LiDAR’ workshop. It was a fact-filled workshop that covered everything from archaeology to geology to trees! Our own Jessica Domiczew from DAT ran the workshop and from her, attendees learnt about what LiDAR is (it stands for Light Detection and Ranging), how it works, data processing and what features can be identified in the Cambrian Mountains when using it. Attendees were also shown how they could explore their local area at home using publicly available LiDAR data, a fantastic resource which is only going to get better with the Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Wales-wide LiDAR survey.

CUPHAT School Visits Starting

17 January 2023

Visits to schools in our 4 project areas by the CUPHAT team will be starting in January 2023. These will start in Wales, kicking off on 17 January. The team will visit 5 schools over 10 days and will be working with the pupils to collect environmental data, explore their ‘cynefin’ and write poetry inspired by the upland landscapes.

We invite the pupils of these schools to come prepared with any questions they’d like to ask the CUPHAT team and to get ready to share with the team what their favourite things are about the areas they live in. School visits will also be happening in Ireland. We anticipate that they will start in February 2023.

Site Visits in Wales

9 and 10 January 2023

Prospective sites in the Cambrian Mountains and Preseli Mountains were visited by the Welsh CUPHAT team in early January. Like with the Irish sites, the sites were determined by consultation and feedback from the communities, and by reading the literature on the cultural and natural heritage of sites in the areas.

Stops included Hafod, Cwmystwyth Mines, Pen y Bannau and Cors Caron in the Cambrian Mountains, and Tregynon Waterfall, Foel Drygarn, Gors Fawr and New Moat in the Preselis. The CUPHAT team was also joined by Cambrian Mountains Initiative (CMI) on the Monday. It was a fun and informative two days, and the team were able to discuss the potential of developing these sites, with the benefit of being on-site at these locations.

Site Visits in Ireland

5 and 6 December 2022

The Irish CUPHAT team visited some of the potential sites to highlight in the Wicklow and Blackstairs Mountains. These sites were determined by consultation and feedback from the communities, and by reading the literature on the cultural and natural sites in the areas. It was a whistle-stop tour, with stops including Baltinglass Abbey, Glenmalure, the Meeting of the Waters and Avoca, Coollattin House, Tomnafinogue Woods, Scullogue Gap, Killann, Ballycrystal and Blackrock Mountain, Caim, and Forrestalstown Wood. It was great to be able to get out and about, and see the potential of each site. Luckily (or unluckily) the CUPHAT team got there before the snow started falling at the end of that week. Talk about perfect timing!

‘Twrio’ (Wales) and ‘Celebrating our Heritage’ (Ireland)

Wales: 16 and 17 November 2022 | Ireland: 21 and 22 November 2022

Memories of times past were shared as members of the public brought old photographs, postcards, documents, and objects to four CUPHAT heritage events in Wales and Ireland.

A busy programme of events involving live talks, music, audio, and film footage entertained the attendees, who responded enthusiastically to the call to have the heritage of their areas preserved for future generations. Across four action-packed days, members of the CUPHAT team were kept busy digitising, recording, and photographing some of the many items which people had brought along.

The two Welsh events took place at the Tregaron Heritage Centre and Maenclochog Community Hall on 16 and 17 November respectively. The people of the Cambrian and Preseli Mountains came out in large numbers for the events styled ‘Twrio’ (Rummage), which recalled the 1990s Welsh TV series of that name. A harp recital by local by local pupil, Malen Fish-Jenkins, broke up the busy programme in Tregaron.

The following week, attention turned to the other side of the Irish Sea, as the Nicky Rackard Community Centre in Rathnure and Rathdangan Community Hall played host to their first events of the CUPHAT project on 21 and 22 November. Again, there was a large turnout from the local communities in the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains, who brought along material with a special significance for them. Local, young musicians Malachy, Holly, and Leah Byrne, playing the banjo and tin whistles respectively, kept us entertained in Rathdangan.

Some of the weird and wonderful items that were ‘rediscovered’ include guns (in both Ireland and Wales), pony trekking memorabilia (in the Cambrian Mountains), clogs, a butter mould and a 1884 ‘sampler’ (in the Preseli Mountains), a pike, postcards and memory cards (in the Blackstairs Mountains) and a public dancing licence, musket ball, a cannonball, and two 1842 ‘samplers’ (in the Wicklow Mountains).

Many thanks to all who took the time to come to these events, and who shared their stories and heritage with the CUPHAT team. We hope to have the digitised items on the website as soon as possible!

Tourism Network meeting in Ireland

14 November 2022

Irish Tourism Network members
Irish Tourism Network members
Irish Tourism Network members

A meeting for the Irish side of CUPHAT’s Tourism Network took place to update members on the recent Learning Visit to Wales. It was held in The Orchard Centre, Tinahely.

Participants of the Learning Visit to Wales, which took place 21-24 October, shared with the rest of the network how it went, and answered the questions that were collated by the Irish side prior to the trip. Possible sites for the second Learning Visit were also discussed.

This was also an opportunity to welcome new members to the network. The network is still open, and we’re seeking people from the hospitality sector, to arts and crafts, to visitor attractions, to local community members etc. If you’re interested in joining, please fill out the relevant Expression of Interest form below:

Drop-in Events in the Cambrian and Preseli Mountains

10 and 11 November 2022

Drop-in session in the Preselis, Wales

Drop-in sessions were organised in the Preseli and Cambrian Mountains with PLANED and Cambrian Mountains Initiative (CMI) respectively for interested community members living in and around these areas. They took place on 10 December in Café Celt (Preseli Mountains) and 11 December in Mynach Community Centre (Cambrian Mountains). These sessions enabled interested community members to learn more about CUPHAT, to meet and chat with the team, to share anything they’d like to highlight in their area and to have their say about heritage tourism in their local areas.

Focus groups for micro enterprises, potential entrepreneurs, and community groups

8 & 9 (Ireland) and 22 & 23 (Wales) November 2022

WP4 focus group session in Kiltealy, Ireland, on 8 November 2022
WP4 focus group session in Cilgwyn, Wales, on 23 November 2022

On 8 and 9 November, the CUPHAT team ran focus groups in Kiltealy and Tinahely to engage with coastal upland communities in the project areas of the Blackstairs Mountains and Wicklow Mountains. Similar activities were also held in the project areas of the Preseli Mountains and Cambrian Mountains in Wales later in the month, on 22 November in Pontrhydygroes and 23 November in Cilgwyn.

The aim of the focus groups was to better understand the perspectives and experiences of community groups, prospective entrepreneurs and established small businesses relating to and engaging with tourism in their communities. We were delighted by the very good turnouts by the community to these events and were encouraged by the levels of positivity, enthusiasm, and the valuable contributions.
A diverse mix of county council representatives from multiple areas, community members and small local business owners came together and shared their knowledge, views, advice and even made new connections with one another. They were also able to shed light on the key issues in the different local areas around tourism. The information gathered from these focus groups is being used to directly inform the approach and design of a blended learning programme that the CUPHAT team is running in early 2023 to support sustainable heritage-based tourism for microenterprises and community groups in the project areas of Ireland and Wales.

WP4 focus group session in Pontrhydygroes, Wales, on 23 November 2022
WP4 focus group session in Tinahely, Ireland, on 9 November 2022

We’ve learned that some of the shared challenges for communities include footfall in the area, public transportation, staff retention and issues around legislation. Individuals mentioned that all of these challenges can lead to tourists not spending enough time or money within the local areas themselves. Some of the key opportunities that were identified include the use of themed and signed trails to help tourists navigate upland trails and link these to the communities, more restaurants, accommodation and other businesses and activities to attract tourists to stay longer, as well as user-friendly maps of offerings in the areas for both locals and tourists. Knowledge and promotion of historic and heritage sites were also mentioned as a need in these areas due to locals in the focus groups discovering some through one another.

The CUPHAT team now have a better understanding of what community members would like to learn more about and what support might be needed to help them enhance or establish their businesses, community projects and strengthen their relationships with each other. We want to thank everyone who showed up to the focus groups for their time and inputs. The next step is to use this knowledge to further engage with these communities through our upcoming programme aimed to set these businesses and communities for success. 

Learning Visit

21 – 24 October 2022

The beginnings of a cross-Irish Sea tourism network between Wales’ Cambrian and Preseli Mountains and Ireland’s Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains is well and truly underway. Participants from Ireland went to Wales on a 4-day trip to learn from and exchange ideas with their Welsh counterparts.

It was an action-packed 4 days with activities including talks, visits and, you guessed it, networking (!). In the Cambrian Mountains region, participants visited Constitution Hill, travelled to Devil’s Bridge via the Rheidol Railway, stopped off at the Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink & Craft Fair 2022 in Bwlch Nant yr Arian, and visited the Tregaron Heritage Centre and Rhiannon Gold Centre. In the Preseli Mountains region, participants visited Dyfed Shires Horse Farm, Nevern, Tafarn Sinc and Castell Henllys. Participants also heard talks from Cambrian Mountains Initiative (CMI), PLANED, Visit Pembrokeshire and Pentir Pumlumon during the course of the 4 days.

The participants of this Learning Visit acted as representatives of the tourism network from both Ireland and Wales. The next step is to have another meeting in both Ireland and Wales for participants of this Learning Visit to share the information they have learnt from these 4 days with the rest of the network. Members on the Irish and Welsh side can then discuss the best ways for them to move forwards. Following the success of this Learning Visit, there will be a second Learning Visit in early 2023, with participants from Wales going to Ireland. We can’t wait to see this network grow!

Tourism Network – meetings in Ireland and Wales

17 October 2022

CUPHAT organised meetings in Ireland and Wales to start the conversation of having a cross-Irish Sea network. This enabled members from each country to come together and have discussions relating to their area, their sector, what they would like from the network, and what they can bring to the network. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses were done to help guide these conversations.

Participants included local community members, accommodation providers, activity providers, food/drink/hospitality providers, and local council and committee members. Some of these participants will be involved in CUPHAT’s first Learning Visit which will involve representatives from the Irish side of the network going over to Wales to learn from and exchange ideas with the Welsh members of the tourism network.

Community Forum Events in Ireland

20 – 29 September 2022

Community members in Tinahely, Ireland
Community members in Kiltealy, Ireland

The Irish CUPHAT team were busy at the end of September organising community forum events in the Wicklow and Blackstairs Mountains. A series of 5 events took place in Baltinglass on 20 September, Tinahely on 21 September, Rathdrum on 22 September, Bunclody on 27 September and Kiltealy on 29 September. The events were for all interested community members in and around these areas. They were an opportunity for communities to get involved and tell the CUPHAT team what’s important in terms of cultural and natural sites and sustainability aspects, as well as getting to meet members of the team they will be seeing more of in their communities. It was great to see so many members of the local communities attend to have their say!

Full CUPHAT Team Meeting

6 – 7 September 2022

At the beginning of September 2022, the UCD team visited the AU and DAT teams to have whole team and work package meetings. PLANED and the Cambrian Mountains Initiative were also there to welcome us. It was an intense couple of days, filled with meetings, getting to know yous, conversations with stakeholders, and visits to specific sites in the Cambrian and Preseli Mountains. . Site visits included Strata Florida, Pwllpeiran, Castell Henllys, and Bluestone Brewery, and the weather held up for it all! We learned a lot from one another, and are ready and raring to get the CUPHAT project well and truly off the ground. #GoTeamCUPHAT

UCD = University College Dublin | AU = Aberystwyth University | DAT = Dyfed Archaeological Trust

Pembrokeshire County Show

17 August 2022

CUPHAT was at the Pembrokeshire County Show on 17 August 2022 as part of the PLANED stand. It was a fun day where show-goers were encouraged to take part in the Hen Bethau Anghofiedig (Forgotten Old Things) activity and we were able to have discussions with numerous people about the project. We now know that many people are interested in taking part in the oral histories part of the project and are keen to get more information about the sustainable aspects. Thank you PLANED for hosting us at your stand, and to all the show-goers who came and talked to us.

Eisteddfod Festival

31 July – 07 August 2022

CUPHAT, along with some other Ireland-Wales projects such as CHERISH, LIVE, and Celtic Routes were at the Eisteddfod Festival in Tregaron, Wales, in early August. It was a magnificent week with daily competitions from the CUPHAT project giving members of the public the opportunity to win themselves a CUPHAT hoodie or t-shirt. We’d like to thank the organisers of the Eisteddfod Festival, our fellow Ireland Wales projects, PLANED, Cambrian Mountains Initiative, Pentir Pumlumon, as well as our own CUPHAT volunteers for staffing the stand and keeping us company at the festival. Thank you to all!

Community Information Evenings

22 – 29 June 2022

A series of 4 community information evenings took place across CUPHAT’s 4 upland areas at the end of June 2022. The first two took place in Ireland, in Bunclody and Rathdrum on 22 and 23 June respectively. The other two took place in Wales, in Canolfan Llwynihirion Brynberian on 28 June and in Pontrhyfendigaid on 29 June. All were welcome to attend these information evenings and they were aimed at individuals and community groups in and around the neighbouring areas to get more information on what the project is about. It was a welcome opportunity to get discussions started between the four communities and the CUPHAT team and get local input on things like the type of activities and types of tourists they’d like to see as a result of the project, as well as seeing what it would mean to them. There will be further community events later in the year.

Visit to the Wicklow and Blackstairs Mountains in Ireland

23 – 24 May 2022

CUPHAT team members from AU, DAT and UCD visited the Wicklow Mountain area on 23 May 2022, visiting cultural and heritage sites in Ireland. We were also met by Wicklow County Tourism on the first day. Site visits included: Thomas Moore Memorial Park, Vale of Avoca – Meeting of the Waters (Natural and Cultural Heritage); East Avoca Mines (Mining Heritage); Glenmalure Valley (Mining heritage, Geology, Natural and Cultural Heritage); Glenmalure Lodge (local business); Baltinglass town (Centre of a huge complex of 5 hillforts; Cultural heritage) and Baltinglass Abbey (Cultural heritage and Archaeology); Brooklodge and Macreddin Village (Local business and tourism destination).

On the second day, 24 May 2022, CUPHAT team members from AU, DAT and UCD also visited cultural and heritage sites in the Blackstairs Mountain area. The team toured the Macreddin village facilities and discussed tourism challenges; Rathgall Hillfort (Archaeology, Natural Heritage); Mount Leinster, via nine Stones (Natural Heritage and Geology); and Monksgrange (Archaeology, Natural and Cultural Heritage). 

Europe Day

9 May 2022

CUPHAT team members enjoyed meeting up with other Interreg project teams at Aberystwyth University and tea and cake were enjoyed by the DAT team members to celebrate #Europe Day.

CUPHAT launch

27 April 2022

The CUPHAT launch was a great success taking place at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth on 27 April 2022. This was held as both an in person event and an online presentation, streamed live from Aberystwyth. The event was well attended with partners from both sides of the Irish Sea taking part, as well as stakeholders from the four upland areas attending to discuss the potential for the project and enjoying the buzz of face to face meetings once more.

Face to face visit to the Preseli’s and Cambrian Mountains

8-9 April 2022

The CUPHAT project team from Aberystwyth University, University College Dublin and Dyfed Archaeological Trust met for the first time face to face for site visits to a number of cultural and natural heritage sites in the two Welsh upland areas – the Preseli and Cambrian Mountains. Local community engagement stakeholders from Planed and The Cambrian Mountains Initiative also joined us for a very enjoyable visit. We look forward to visiting the Wicklow and Blackstairs upland areas in Ireland in the near future.

A CUPHAT site visit was organised to the Preseli Mountains, Wales, on 8 April 2022. The CUPHAT team visited the following potential heritage and tourism sites in the Preseli’s: Pentre Ifan (Archaeology); Foel Drygarn Hillfort (Archaeology, Geology and Picturesque); Tafarn Sinc, Rosebush (local history, community run cafe and discussions with Planed); Rosebush Slate quarry (Geology); Waun Mawn standing stones (Geology and Archaeology). The team were also joined by Planed the community engagement stakeholder group involved in the project for the visit to the Preselis. 

UCD, AU and DAT also visited the Cambrian Mountains on 9 April 2022. The team visited potential heritage and tourism sites including: Nant yr Arian visitor centre (Natural heritage, Adventure tourism); Devils Bridge waterfall (Picturesque, Geomorphology); Hafod (Picturesque); Cwm Ystwyth (Mining); Strata Florida (Archaeology); River Bank Cafe (Local business); Cors Caron Tregaron (Natural Heritage). The team also met with members of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative community stakeholder group. 

New Ireland Wales initiative to promote sustainable tourism announced

17 March 2022

Pentre Ifan - a burial chamber in the Preseli Mountains, Wales

Image: The Pentre Ifan burial chamber in the hills of Preseli, one of the four coastal areas that feature in the Coastal Uplands Heritage and Tourism project.

Academics from Aberystwyth University will lead a new European project to boost tourism in rural areas of Wales and Ireland.

The new initiative, announced on St Patrick’s Day, sees researchers from Aberystwyth University Department of Geography and Earth Sciences lead the €3 million project in partnership with University College Dublin and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

It is supported by €2.4m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme.

The scheme will operate for a period of two years in the Cambrian Mountains, Preseli Hills, Wicklow Mountains and Blackstairs Mountains, using their cultural and natural heritage assets to promote sustainable forms of tourism.

The Ireland-Wales project comprises several elements, including: the use of technology to enhance the visitor experience; creating a tourism network and joint marketing strategy; and work with schools and others to record local cultural histories.

The initiative, known as Coastal Uplands Heritage and Tourism project, also aims to bring economic benefits. The ambition is to increase the number of tourists in these areas by 5% along with their spending – creating or expanding eight local microenterprises.

Explaining the work, Professor Rhys Jones from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University said: “The four coastal upland areas of the Cambrian Mountains, Preseli Hills, Wicklow Mountains and Blackstairs Mountains have historically been reliant on traditional industries such as agriculture and forestry. Each of the areas possesses some tourism infrastructure in addition but, at present, this is relatively under-developed, especially when compared with the mass tourism taking place along the coasts of both Ireland and Wales.

“In Ireland and Wales, Brexit is likely to have an impact on tourism. However, unexpectedly, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic may encourage more people to holiday at home. This creates opportunities for more regions to benefit from new types of domestic tourists wanting to actively explore the less commercialised coastal upland areas.”

Leading the project in Ireland are Dr Christine Bonnin and Dr Arlene Crampsie from University College Dublin’s School of Geography. Drs Bonnin and Crampsie said: “Drawing on the rich natural and cultural heritages of the coastal uplands bordering the Irish Sea, this project offers local communities and tourism stakeholders an exciting opportunity to develop sustainable, locally appropriate tourism offerings. Combining existing and new heritage tourism initiatives, the project will showcase the shared and unique aspects of our joint heritages to a diverse tourist audience, helping to build sustainable tourism through community development.”

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “We welcome the development of projects that will enhance the visitor experience in Wales and also strengthen our relationships with our closest European neighbour, Ireland.  This project aligns with our tourism strategy by supporting our ambition to grow tourism sustainably by extending the season and encouraging visitors to discover new tourism-ready areas. We look forward to working with the team on another project which will bring our two countries closer together.” 

The Irish Government Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, TD said: “I congratulate the partners in the Coastal Uplands Heritage and Tourism (CUPHAT) project for their success in obtaining support from the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme 2014-2020 to enhance the tourism potential of some of the most peripheral areas of Wales and Ireland.  These areas are endowed with great natural beauty and strong historical backgrounds. Building on these resources through the development of sustainable tourism will help unlock the untapped economic potential of these regions. Projects and partnerships such as this one are important symbols of the ongoing cooperation between Wales and the South East of Ireland.”

Kenneth Murphy of Dyfed Archaeological Trust said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase to the world these unique upland landscapes in Wales and Ireland. We look forward to working with our partners in Aberystwyth and Dublin.”


Further Information:
Arthur Dafis, Communications & Public Affairs, Aberystwyth University
07841979452 /

Aberystwyth University  
Established in 1872, Aberystwyth is a leading teaching and research university. The University was named University of the Year for Teaching Quality in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 2019, and Welsh University of the Year in 2020. In the 2020 National Student Survey, Aberystwyth was ranked the best university in Wales, and of the universities featured in The Times / Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, was number one in the UK for overall Student Experience and Teaching Quality. The latest Research Excellence Framework reported that 95% of Aberystwyth’s research activity was of an international standard or higher. The University is a community of around 8,000 students and 2,000 staff committed to delivering inspirational education and research in a supportive, creative and exceptional environment. Registered charity No 1145141

New Ireland Wales initiative to promote sustainable tourism announced – Aberystwyth University