Archaeology Content

Humans have occupied Ireland for the past 10,000 years, leaving us with a rich legacy of archaeological monuments and landscapes. We work to conserve this unique archaeological heritage.

Historic Towns Initiative

Ireland has a rich legacy of historic towns and villages ranging from medieval towns, estate villages, canal and port towns to centres of administration. The historic character of these towns can be seen as a valuable asset, providing the potential for them to become vibrant, multi-functional places to live, work and visit. We need to protect the heritage of these towns in order to safeguard their distinctive character.

A key objective of the Heritage Council’s Strategic Plan 2012-16 is to “invest in a new Historic Towns and Villages initiative in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland, thereby maintaining heritage integrity and improving the quality of our historic towns and villages for residents and tourists." Following discussions between the Heritage Council, the Dept. of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht (DAHG) and Fáilte Ireland, a new pilot initiative is currently in development to make progress in this area.

This pilot scheme involves the three historic towns of Westport in Co. Mayo, Listowel in Co. Kerry, and Youghal in Co. Cork. In undertaking the scheme, Council and its partners are seeking to combine the conservation and protection of the built and natural heritage of the participating historic towns through effective urban renewal while maximising the economic value of tourism in the towns. Council’s network of contacts developed through both the National Heritage Officer Network and through the range of grant-aided projects in the localities will inform the development of the project. The experience developed by Council in areas such as heritage interpretation, community heritage, recreation, conservation plans, public realm and village design toolkits, as well as the work undertaken to date by the Irish Walled Towns Network will also inform Council’s approach.

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The success of the initiative will be dependent on local government taking a leadership role in their participating town, while the national partners will provide support, guidance and resources throughout the process. Through its local governance, each town must be able to articulate a clear vision for the development of their historic town, and be in a position to engage the support of both the local community and key stakeholders in defining a workable vision and delivering on desired outcomes.

Preliminary work to define the initiative has been ongoing throughout 2012, it is intended to carry out work at local level in each of the three participating towns in 2013. Depending on the outcome of this work, it is anticipated that the Historic Towns Initiative will be expanded to other towns throughout Ireland in 2014.