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Children are very much under-represented in heritage tourism studies, particularly in terms of their own perspectives. This exploratory study begins to redress this imbalance by investigating how 34 primary school-going children experience and make sense of the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, an Irish heritage site. Among the research questions posed are: How does the group make sense of heritage? Where do they get their ideas about heritage attractions? What appeals to them about heritage attractions? The research adopted an interpretivist approach and employed a variety of innovative data collection tools, gathering ideas from the children through discussions, writing, drawings and observations, both in their classroom and on a heritage site visit. The findings pointed to how the children’s preconceptions of a heritage site are informed by their perceptions of the location, and images formed from television. Their enjoyment of a site was found to be relative to their enjoyment of other places that they have visited. The findings also indicated the importance of interaction with media, technology and visuals. Finally, the study indicated the importance of social interaction, both with their peers and with their Tour Guide. A number of policy implications are drawn.
Roche, D. & Quinn, B. (2016) Heritage sites and schoolchildren: insights from the Battle of the Boyne, Journal of Heritage Tourism, published online June 2016. doi:10.1080/1743873X.2016.1201086