Navigation – Plan du site

Historical landscape studies in Ireland

With an appendix on the future of the Irish countryside
Étude historique du paysage en Irlande
Anngret Simms
p. 301-320

Résumés

L’article retrace le développement de l’étude des paysages en Irlande, depuis ses pères fondateurs, tel E.E.Evans (Belfast), qui axa ses recherches sur les vestiges des implantations traditionnelles et les schémas de terrain, jusqu’à T.Jones-Hughes (Dublin), qui explora, à partir des relevés gouvernementaux du XIXe siècle, l’importance de la propriété terrienne, ainsi que l’identité culturelle fragmentée qui façonna le paysage irlandais. Ces deux géographes furent à l’origine d’écoles qui poursuivirent leur oeuvre: R.Buchanan, D.McCourt et B.Proudfoot en Irlande du Nord, W.J.Smyth, P.Duffy, W.Nolan, K.Whelan et P.O’Connor en République d’Irlande. Un aspect important de l’étude des implantations historiques en Irlande se situe dans l’exploration de la cartographie historique, un domaine dans lequel J.Andrews est un maître incontesté.La reconstruction des paysages du passé fut l’objectif de R.Glasscock (Belfast) et T.Barry (Dublin), selon la méthodologie de l’école anglaise des implantations désertées, tandis que C.Doherty, H.B.Clarke, A.Empey, B.Graham et A.Simms se servirent de preuves documentées pour reconstruire les implantations gaéliques, vikings et anglo-normandes. Une partie de ce discours est la question complexe de la continuité dans l’histoire des implantations en Irlande. Les modes de plantation des XVIe et XVIIe siècles ont été étudiés par P.Robinson, R.Gillespie et M.McCarthy, tandis qu’un grand projet de recherche entrepris par B.Graham et L.Proudfoot a permis de mettre en lumière le rôle des propriétaires dans les aménagements urbains et ruraux.
L’article pointe quelques textes déterminants pour l’étude de l’histoire du peuplement en Irlande. Il présente également les contributions de certains projets d’envergure, y compris l’Atlas irlandais des villes historiques et des «County Histories». Le programme de recherche s’est élargi grâce à la conceptualisation des paysages en tant que représentation de la culture, une approche que l’on retrouve dans les travaux de N.Johnston et de Y.Whelan sur l’importance des monuments.D’autres domaines ont été moins explorés, tel le paysage de l’Irlande gaélique, de même que la fin du Moyen-Age. Des études comparatives font également défaut, tant à l’intérieur de l’Irlande qu’entre celle-ci et le reste de l’Europe, et l’histoire environnementale est particulièrement oubliée.
Enfin, l’article fait également référence aux organismes fournisseurs de sources.Quant à l’annexe, on y trouvera des informations sur les instruments législatifs visant à la protection future des paysages d’Irlande ainsi qu’un résumé des problèmes structurels inhérents au système irlandais.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 See also:
    Buchanan R.H. (1984), «Historical Geography of Ireland pre 1700», Jubilee Volume, Irish Ge
    (...)

1This contribution on landscape research in Ireland is written with a historical bias, as it comes from a historical geographer1. It begins by outlining different perspectives of Irish landscape studies in the past with reference to the founding fathers of historical geography in Ireland. It continues by discussing future landscape research in Ireland on the basis of new source material and a changing perception of history, as well as a changing attitude towards the environment. In an appendix the growing interest in Ireland towards its material heritage and its cultural and economic potential is discussed in relation to planning legislation, which will largely influence the future of the Irish countryside.

The development of landscape studies in Ireland

In the tradition of the founding fathers

  • 2 Evans and Jones-Hughes both came from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at the Universi (...)

2Before we can talk about the future of landscape studies in Ireland we should briefly acknowledge the work on which our present studies build. Two people in particular have actively shaped the foundation years of Irish historic settlement studies. These were E.E. Evans and T. Jones-Hughes, who held the first appointments of Geography at Queen’s University Belfast (1928-1968) and University College Dublin (1950-1987), respectively. As the discipline of geography only became established in Irish universities with their generation, it is not surprising that these men came from across the Irish Sea, from Wales2. What is more significant for us is that their research focused on rural settlement and society, while T.W. Freeman, the first geographer in Trinity College Dublin (1936-1946), was primarily a population geographer, whose work on pre-famine Ireland is an important contribution to the historical geography of nineteenth century Ireland. Pierre Flatrès’ book, Géographie rurale de quatre contrées celtique (Rennes, 1957), looking at Ireland as part of the Atlantic fringe of Europe, had a great influence in his time, because it stressed the European dimension in the interpretation of the Irish landscapes.

3Evans’s work was based on field-work and focused on traditional rural settlement patterns and house-types along the north-western Atlantic fringe of Ireland, while Jones-Hughes’s research explored nineteenth century documentary sources and was focused on questions of power in society as mediated through landholding. In their students we see the emergence of two different strands of settlement studies. One developed at Belfast with scholars like R. Buchanan, D. McCourt, and B. Proudfoot, whose work on the traditional rural landscape was based primarily on field work, and the other emanated from Dublin with scholars like W. J. Smyth, S. Smith, P. Duffy, W. Nolan, K. Whelan and P. O’Connor, whose research is focused on the importance of institutions and cultural factors for the formation of the Irish landscape.

  • 3 Evans had a strong interest in the prehistoric period and in 1935 he published jointly with Gaffiki (...)

4The earlier impetus for Evans’s work had come from archaeology, which might have influenced his fascination with origins and cultural diffusion3. The landscape was his main source of evidence. Written documents played little part in his research. The focus of his research was on the small clustered settlements in the north of Donegal, which following the Scottish example he called «clachans». The «clachans» were surrounded by arable land, which was periodically redistributed, according to a system called «run-rig» or «rundale».

5One of the past problems of Irish settlement studies, which J.H. Andrews had the courage to address, was that E.E.Evans and his students put forward the idea that «clachans» and their associated field-systems were features which had been part of the Irish landscape since prehistory until they were finally mapped by the Ordnance Survey in the early nineteenth century. But, evidence for the existence of «clachans» and «rundale» before the 18th century is very scarce. Why were the Belfast geographers at the time so determined to go beyond hard evidence? Probably it was because they believed in the concept of the cultural continuity from Irish prehistory to the present. They also did not hesitate to assume that the settlement patterns which they found in Ulster was also typical for the rest of the country and that land-use systems from the prehistoric period continued more or less unchanged to the present day! Today we have a stronger belief in the independence of the past.

6Jones-Hughes always deliberately distanced himself from the landscape school. His main interest belonged to the agrarian society of nineteenth century Ireland and his source materials are the nationwide government surveys of that period. They include the population Census (every ten years after 1800), a statistical survey of landownership called after its director Griffith Valuation (1849-65) and the first six inches to a mile Ordnance Survey maps (1833-46), which were produced for the whole country in order to provide a basis for taxation.

7The regional differentiation of Irish landscapes was of great interest for Jones-Hughes, less as expressed in different settlement patterns but rather in variations of place-names and personal names, which would offer an explanation for the different ethnic origin of population groups who make up the Irish people. Place-names studies make a real contribution towards a better understanding of the settlement history of Ireland. The most important place-name element in Ireland is the Gaelic «baile» with the corresponding English «town». These two place-name elements in connection with personal names are complimentary. For example in the north of the province of Leinster, where Anglo-Norman colonisation was very successful, place-names with the suffix «town» are frequent, while in the province of Connaught in the west of the island the suffix «baile» is widespread. One of the intriguing questions for which we still have to find an answer is why we find so many Gaelic field-names on nineteenth-century estate-maps in areas, which were once under strong Anglo-Norman influence, as for example in County Dublin?

8The topic, which fascinated Jones-Hughes most, is the influence of lordship on Irish rural society. The confiscation of land, which followed the Cromwellian Wars in the seventeenth century, allowed the formation of large estates in Protestant hands. The architecture of the elegant estate-houses in classical style surrounded by demesne land and estate walls has spread in amazing conformity from the east to the west coast in spite of regions with greatly differing modes of agricultural production. Jones-Hughes points out that the estate system was much more invasive in the agriculturally poorer regions of the west than in the richer regions of the east. He repeatedly draws attention to the cultural meaning of Irish market places in the nineteenth century. Near to the market place stood the courthouse, the school and the established church, usually paid for by the landlord. The Catholic church was located on the periphery of the town not far from the fair-green. The land-acts introduced by Gladstone at the end of the nineteenth century allowed the tenants to become the owners of their land.

9The big estate houses lost their function and many of them fell into ruins. It would be an important task for the future to establish a countrywide survey in how far these houses continue under new guises or are destined to lie in ruins?

10Fortunately for us Jones-Hughes also had a large number of students who continued his work. Their interest is mainly focused on the institutions, which were important for the formation of modern Ireland. After the emancipation of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the nineteenth century it was this church which had the greatest impact on the shaping of the landscape. New diocesan centres were established in the large populous county towns rather than in the old medieval diocesan centres. Therefore Thurles became the new Catholic diocesan centre in Tipperary instead of Cashel. In many instances the building of new Catholic churches in the nineteenth century led to the establishment of new villages, baptised «chapel-villages» by Kevin Whelan (Whelan, 1983).

11A problem of interpretation has arisen concerning Jones-Hughes’s work. Was he right in describing the landscape change brought about by the landlords in the nineteenth century exclusively as an expression of a colonial society or does this change represent at least in part a modernisation process? In fact, many changes in the cultural landscape of eighteenth and nineteenth century Ireland are not the result of landlord directives but are due to the initiative of the tenant farmers. The buildings of the eighteenth century Georgian squares in Dublin have been described by Jones-Hughes as the strongest expression of British colonialism in Ireland. The elegant Georgian town-houses are indeed built like their English counterparts, but the actual layout of the squares and the architecture of the monumental buildings in Dublin from that period are not particularly English but follow the mode of other classical buildings in Europe at that time. In the context of Irish history the concept of colonialism can obscure as much as it can enlighten.

History of cartography and settlement studies

  • 4 An appreciation of J. Andrews’s work is found in: Whelan K. (1992) «Beyond a paper landscape. Andre (...)

12Another name of great importance for Irish landscape studies is that of John Andrews (formerly Trinity College Dublin), who bridges the generations4. Having an unrivalled expertise in the history of cartography in Ireland he has written a book on the history of the Irish Ordnance Survey with the intriguing title A Paper Landscape (Dublin, 1975) and on Irish mapmakers called Plantation Acres (Belfast, 1985). It is his hypothesis that in countries with dramatic changes in property ownership, which are imposed from outside, the production of maps has a much higher priority than in countries with greater social stability. That in a nutshell is the reason why Ireland is better endowed with early Ordnance Survey maps than England.

  • 5 Andrew’s unpublished critical papers, include the following: «The ethnic factor in Irish historical (...)

13Andrews set the standard for the rigorous examination of documentary sources in Irish settlement studies, which he himself applied particularly to the plantation period. Those who feel indebted to his research come from a very wide circle of scholars. His recent book on Shapes of Ireland, published in Dublin in 1997, is a treasure trove for settlement historians as were his previous books. In some way he has acted as the conscience of Irish settlement studies by asking critical questions about widely held assumptions, which appeared not to have been backed up by sufficient evidence from the sources5.

14Arnold Horner, an expert on Irish maps in his own right, has explored their potential for settlement history, as he did in his paper on two eighteenth-century maps of Carlow town (Horner, 1978). A. Bonar Law’s publication of The printed maps of Ireland, 1612-1850 (Dublin, 1998) will make more cartographical source material available for settlement studies. Jacinta Prunty has recently written a textbook on Maps and Map-Making In Local History, Dublin 2004, in which she introduces the local history practitioner to the world of Irish maps.

Reconstructing past settlements

15When Robin Glasscock, the founder of the Irish Historic Settlement Group, started his work in Queen’s University, Belfast in the 1960s he introduced the approach of the «British Deserted Medieval Village Research Group» (founded in 1952 by Beresford, Hurst and others) and of the «Moated Sites Research Group» (set up in 1971) to Irish settlement studies. Therefore the emphasis in his work was on the recording and mapping of relict features of former settlements in the landscape (Glasscock, 1971; Duffy, 1988). His students B.Graham, T. Barry and G. Barrett were trained in the method of reconstructing medieval settlement in Ireland with the focus on surviving structures in the field.

  • 6 The next generation of research-students continues this tradition, as the following list of publica (...)

16The map of medieval settlement in County Meath compiled by B. Graham was, I believe, the first case study of an integrated medieval settlement landscape (Graham, 2000). His methodological approach was to combine the mapping of medieval relict features in the field with contemporary documentary evidence and to present an interpretation of the settlement pattern by linking it to the feudal system. He also applies this approach to his study of medieval urbanization. T. Barry’s work is largely based on the identification and mapping of medieval settlement structures and their explanation in a historical context6. G. Barrett brought the expertise of taking air photographs of medieval historic sites to her studies and so she succeeded in greatly extending our knowledge of known historic settlement sites.

  • 7 Helmut Jaeger knew Clifford Darby (London and Cambridge) personally and was well aware of his work (...)

17The encouragement to use contemporary documents for the reconstruction of medieval settlement came in the 1970s also from H. Jaeger from the University of Würzburg, whose work on settlement and environmental history is predominantly based on documentary evidence7. The use of medieval documentation was further supported by the Dublin Historic Settlement Group, a small interdisciplinary working group founded in 1975. The group facilitated interdisciplinary settlement research and comparative studies on a European level by inviting continental colleagues to lecture on their work. In this way a tradition of research was revived which I. Leister had introduced to Ireland as a lone pioneer in the 1960s with her book on the formation of the agrarian landscape in County Tipperary entitled: Das Werden der Agrarlandschaft in der Grafschaft Tipperary (Marburg, 1963).

18Important work has been done on Viking- and Anglo-Norman Dublin by H.B. Clarke as reflected in his map The Medieval town in the modern city (Dublin, 1978, new edition 2003) and the two companion volumes Medieval Dublin (Dublin, 1990), whose introduction contains an analysis of how the changing political climate in Ireland has influenced research on the early origins of the capital city. More recently, in 1998, a volume in the comparative studies of Early Viking Age settlement in Ireland and Scandinavia has been produced jointly by H.B. Clarke, M. Ni Mhaonaigh and R. OFloinn (Clarke et al., 1998). In 2002 Howard Clarke published «Dublin, Part I, to 1610» published by the Royal Irish Academy as part of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas.

19Familiarity with medieval Irish documentation made it possible for C. Doherty to reconstruct Gaelic settlement and society in Ireland before the Anglo-Norman invasion and to establish the contemporary European context. M. Herity brought the recording skills of the archaeologist to the study of early-medieval settlement in Ireland and contributed to the topic of the layout of early-medieval monastic sites. The enigma of the «rath», the most ubiquitous early-medieval Irish settlement form, has been explored by M. Stout, on the basis of statistical analysis and primary source material. He provides a model which succeeds in integrating the «rath» with the other settlement features of the time.

20The excavation on Viking sites in the centre of our present-day towns, Dublin and Waterford foremost, facilitated important research, which is reflected in a growing body of publications. The Dublin excavations are published jointly by the Royal Irish Academy with the National Museum. The volumes by P. F. Wallace on the Viking houses in Dublin and the volume on plants and environmental indicators in Viking Dublin by S. Geraghty are of special interest for settlement studies (Wallace, 1992; Geraghty, 1993; Duffy, 2003). The archaeological excavation reports on Patrick, Nicholas and Winetavern Streets published in 1997 in the volume Dublin, edited by C. Walsh provide an excellent contextual insight into these rescue excavations, as does the volume on the Waterford Excavations edited by M. Hurley et al. in the same year. The proceedings of the Friends of the Medieval Dublin Symposia, edited by S.Duffy, now comprise four volumes with excavation reports from different Medieval sites in Dublin.

21Research has been done on medieval manors as reflected in A. Empey’s work on medieval settlement in County Kilkenny and A. Simms’s reconstruction of the former Augustinian grange at Duleek in County Meath and of the former royal manor of Newcastle Lyons in County Dublin on the basis of manorial extents whose Latin texts have been published (Empey, 1982, 1983; Simms, 1983, 1989). Also, with emphasis on contemporary documents as source material for settlement studies M. Hennessy undertook his work on the geography of the Anglo-Norman colony in Tipperary (Hennessy, 1996a, 1996b).

22T. McNeill’s recent book on: Castles in Ireland: Feudal Power in a Gaelic World (London, 1997) is an excellent overview of this important special field of research. Contact with the internationally organised Château Gaillard group allows for the comparative perspective. R. Stalley’s The Cistercian Monasteries of Ireland (New Haven, 1987), is a significant contribution to the study of high-medieval monastic settlement in Ireland. Tadgh O’Keeffe’s book on «Romanesque Ireland: Architecture and Ideology in the Twelfth Century», published in Dublin in 2003, helps us to understand the built fabric of early medieval Ireland.

23Studies on the Plantation period inevitably focus on the establishment of new settlements, such as the work by P. S. Robinson on The Plantation of Ulster (Belfast, 1984), by R. Gillespie on Colonial Ulster. The settlement of east Ulster, 1600-1641 (Cork, 1985) and by M. McCarthy Morrogh on The Munster Plantation: English migration to southern Ireland, 1583-1641 (Oxford 1986) contain substantial information on the settlement patterns of the time. The small volume by R. Loeber published in the series of the Irish Historic Settlement Group addresses the topic of The Geography and Practice of English Colonisation in Ireland from 1534 to 1609 (Athlone, 1991) It is complete with a distribution map of English settlements in seventeenth century Ireland and their classification into garrisons, forts and settlements. J. Andrew’s article on «Plantation Ireland: a review of settlement history» contains maps of sixteenth and seventeenth-century plantation schemes (Andrews, 2000).

24Despite its importance settlement historians have neglected the eighteenth century. A. Horner gave a good lead with his work on Carton in County Kildare as a case-study of the making of an Irish demesne and P.J. Duffy on the evolution of estate properties in South Ulster (Horner Carton, 1975), L.J. Proudfoot’s monograph on Urban Patronage and Social Authority. The Management of the Duke of Devonshire’s Towns in Ireland, 1764-1891 (Washington, 1995) is an attempt to present the landlord influence in a theoretical framework. On the basis of a major funded project B.J. Graham and L.J. Proudfoot have explored the influence of the landlords on planning and urban growth in the eighteenth century and published the preliminary results in the series of the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement under the title Urban Improvement in Provincial Ireland, 1700-1840 (Athlone, 1994) (Graham & Proudfoot, 1992). In a highly analytical article on settlement in eighteenth century Ireland K. Whelan stresses that pre-Famine Ireland was not an undifferentiated mass of unrelieved poverty but that class was an important factor (Whelan, 2000).

  • 8 E. Sheridan's work on eighteenth century Dublin has provided the comparative framework for Dublin a (...)

25Louis Cullen has written on the growth of Dublin between 1600-1900 and E. Sheridan has discussed the social topography of eighteenth-century Dublin. J. Bradley and A. Simms have explored the fragmented identity of Irish provincial towns in the eighteenth century (Cullen, 1992; Sheridan, 20018; Nolan, 1992; Bradley, 2002; Simms, 2002).

26W. Nolan has explored settlement and society in the glens of Wicklow in the eighteenth century. Because of the rich source material for the nineteenth century the rural settlement for this period has been particularly well researched. The work by T. Jones-Hughes on society and settlement in nineteenth century Ireland set the scene (Nolan, 1992; Jones-Hugues, 1965).

Key texts (1970s to 1990s)

27The student of settlement studies in Ireland in the 1970s was fortunate to have as his companion three major textbooks. For many of us T. Orme’s Ireland, (London, 1970), while part of an international series on regional geographies, was the first encounter with settlement history. T. Orme succeeded in contextualising the major phases of settlement development in Ireland. Frank Mitchell’s book The Irish Landscape (London, 1976), focused on the environmental history of Ireland based on scientific evidence as for example pollen analysis. The new edition of this book, prepared jointly with Michael Ryan, has the title: The Shell Guide to Reading the Irish Landscape, (Dublin, 1986). Fred Aalen’s book Man and the Landscape in Ireland (London, 1978) was a first statement on the contribution of the historical geographer to the understanding of the making of the Irish cultural landscape through time.

28Alan Gailey’s Rural Houses of Northern Ireland (Edinburgh, 1984) is a good example of work on vernacular housing. Henry Glassie’s Passing the Time in Ballymenone: Folkore and History of an Ulster Community (Dublin, 1986) is probably one of the best books ever written on the rural local geography of Ireland and includes substantial passages on settlement, in particular on the social and cultural significance of house types and land use.

29The publication of the volume An Historical Geography of Ireland (Dublin, 1993) edited by B. Graham and L. Proudfoot, provides a more recent bench mark for the presentation of historical settlement studies in Ireland. Geographers and historians contributed to the volume, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of Irish historic settlement studies.T. Barry’s book The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland (London, 1987), provides a valuable survey of the contribution of archaeology to settlement studies in Ireland.

30We must now turn to recent Festschrifts. The first two were dedicated to E. E. Evans; one was edited by N. Stephens and R. E. Glasscock, Irish Geographical Studies in honour of E.E. Evans (Belfast, 1970) and the other by R. H. Buchanan, E. Jones and D. McCourt, Man and his habitat: essays presented to E.E. Evans (London, 1971). Almost twenty years later came the volume of essays collected for T. Jones-Hughes on the historical geography of Ireland. This book, edited by W.J. Smyth and K. Whelan and published in 1988 in Cork under the title Common Ground demonstrated a far-ranging use of source material by geographers from the medieval period into the nineteenth century. The next two volumes reflect the interdisciplinary character of settlement research in Ireland as it had become by the 1980s. One entitled Settlement and Society (for F.X. Martin,O.S.A.) was edited by J. Bradley and was published in Kilkenny in 1988 and the other entitled Dublin, City and County: Prehistory To Present, ( for J.H. Andrews) was edited by F.H.A. Aalen and Kevin Whelan and was published in Dublin in 1992. The essays collected and edited by H. Murtagh in commemoration for N.W. English were published under the title Irish Midland Studies (Athlone, 1980). They presented a valuable regional study as does the volume edited by E. Rynne on North Munster Studies ( Limerick, 1967). The last volume to be mentioned is the collection of essays for Kevin Danacher with the delightful title Gold under the furze: studies in folk tradition (Dublin, 1982) edited by A. Gailey and D. O hOgain.

31Particularly enjoyable are the regional monographs. Among those E.E. Evans Mourne Country (Dundalk, 1951) has become a classic in the French mould of a distinctive region of hill country. W. Nolan’s Fassadinan, Land, Settlement and Society in South-East Ireland 1600-1850 (Dublin, 1975) is a regional study of a community which was involved in farming as well as in mining. P.J. Duffy’s Landscapes of South Ulster. A Parish Atlas of the Diocese of Clogher (Belfast, 1993) provides a good example of geography at the parish level. Two studies in particular recreate medieval landscapes. One is A.P. Smyth’s courageous book on Celtic Leinster: Towards an Historical Geography of Early Irish Civilisation, A.D. 500-1600 (Dublin, 1982) and the other is T.E. McNeill’s portrait of Anglo-Norman Ulster. The History and Archaeology of an Irish Barony, 1177-1400 (Edinburgh, 1980). And finally we must mention The Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (Cork, 1997) edited by F.H.A. Aalen, K. Whelan and M. Stout, which has become a bestseller and succeeded in reaching a large group of people who would otherwise not read about settlement history.

Urban settlements in historical perspective

32In common with settlement studies in other European countries the emphasis in Ireland was until the 1970s very much on rural settlement research, with few exceptions as for example G. Camblin’s work on The Towns in Ulster (Belfast, 1951) and the volume which R.A. Butlin edited on The development of the Irish Town (London, 1977). J. Bradley and B. Graham were the first to work on the urbanisation of medieval Ireland, producing distribution maps and in Bradley’s case a long list of valuable individual case-studies (Bradley, 1985; Graham, 1979). The aim of considering medieval urbanisation in Ireland in a European context led to the publication of the two volumes: The Comparative History of Urban Origins in Non-Roman Europe (Oxford, 1985), edited by H.B. Clarke and A. Simms.

33The publication of Jacinta Prunty’s book Dublin Slums, 1800-1925, (Dublin, 1997) sets the social problems of the nineteenth century into a spatial context and provides a good counterpart to Mary Daly’s previous book on Dublin: the deposed capital (Cork, 1985).

  • 9 Irish Historic Towns Atlas, edited by Simms A., Clarke H. B., Gillespie R. with Andrews J.H. as con (...)

34The study of the historical topography of Irish towns as expressed in town-plans was advanced, when in 1986 the first fascicle of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series, which forms part of a European wide project of historic towns atlases, was published. The Irish atlas was set up through the support of the Royal Irish Academy. So far thirteen fascicles have been published providing a detailed data-base for future urban research and an interpretation of the history of individual towns. The atlas helps to redress the previous lack of research on Irish towns9.

  • 10 MAYNOOTH LOCAL HISTORY STUDIES (1996), publications with an impact on settlement studies:
    BRODERICK
    (...)

35The two volumes on Irish country-towns (Cork, 1994 and 1995), edited by A. Simms and J. Andrews and one on Irish cities (Cork, 1995) edited by H. B. Clarke, were the result of three Thomas Davies lecture series on Irish towns on radio. They were designed to reach a wider audience of people. The Local History series emanating from Maynooth since 1996 with Raymond Gillespie as editor contributes to our knowledge of individual places10. The large number of case studies provided by the historical atlas, the country town’s publications and the local history series provides the material for future comparative work.

36The promotion of heritage towns by Board Faílte, the Government Tourist Board, has given research into the topographical and socio-economic history of Irish towns special impetus. And so in cooperation between the Geography Department in University College Dublin and Board Faílte a guide book called: Irish Towns: Guide to Sources (Dublin, 1998) was produced for anyone who has committed him or herself to explore the rich heritage of Irish towns (Nolan & Simms, 1998).

Challenges for the future research

A widening of the agenda

37We have come to see landscapes as representations of culture. If we learn to read their symbolic meaning, we will better understand the current debate on cultural identities in Ireland. Cole Harris encourages us to go into this direction with the following advice: «The challenge, it seems to me, is to retain our respect for the archives and our steeping in the complexities of particular places, while enlarging our ability to situate these studies in broader contexts of ideas» (Harris, 1991).

38Settlements are no longer looked upon as individual objects of study but «in a broad sense as a text, a multi-layered document, full of human intentionality, a culture code which embodies different levels of meaning» (Whelan, 2000). The operative word here is meaning. The intention is to understand the iconography of the landscape for what it can tell us about the politically, economically and culturally dominant group in society. Settlement is both medium and message, site and symbol, terrain and text.

  • 11 See also:
    G
    raham B. (1994), «No place of the mind: contested Protestant representations of Ulster»,
    (...)

39The study of the meaning of the Irish landscape, both rural and urban, reflects an increasing concern with issues of representation, contested space and identity. Nuala Johnson has looked at the question how monuments in the Irish countryside reflect nationalism and B. Graham has studied the Protestant representations of Ulster. In a collection of essays In Search Of Ireland (London, 1997) edited by him, Graham expresses the belief, that the political problems in Ireland are created by conflicts and confusions of identity, which find expression in the landscape11. The younger generation is keen to explore these questions in order to better understand the cultural and political environment in which they live. Y. Whelan’s book Reinventing Modern Dublin, (Dublin, 2003) presents a reading of Dublin’s iconography after independence.

The concept of continuity and change

40A major issue, which is related to the question of cultural identity, is that of continuity and change. There was a period when major changes in the history of Irish settlements were attributed solely to immigrants from abroad, from the Neolithic period onwards via the Celts, Vikings, Anglo-Normans to the English. The greatest long-term importance was attached to the Celts, as the cultural identity of the country was linked to their civilisation through language and material culture. In the final chapter of his book: Pagan Celtic Ireland, the Enigma of the Irish Iron Age (London 1994) B. Raftery poses the question how much distinctly Celtic evidence there is in the Irish archaeological material of the Iron-Age? The question arises whether instead of thinking in terms of larger groups of Celtic people immigrating into the country, we should think of a small élite group who came and influenced artistic style and language?

41Similar questions are asked for the period of transition from the Iron-Age to the Early-Christian period, where rather than focusing on a break in settlement structures continuities are regarded as an important element. G. Cooney writes regarding the continuity from the Iron-Age to the Early-Christian period: «It is perhaps ironic that at a time traditionally seen as bringing an end to a major phase of Irish settlement should increasingly be seen to continue trends in settlement form and location» (Cooney, 2000). The evolutionary model, suggesting the reuse of land through different phases of development in the landscape, clearly wins out.

42The question of continuity of settlement locations and structures becomes very important in the medieval period in the context of landholding, the formation of manorial settlement and the process of urbanisation. We are not alone in Ireland in raising the issue of the nature of continuity on settlement sites. C. Dyer wrote in 1990 in an article on the future of medieval rural history studies in England that archaeologists have come to deny the invasion hypothesis which implied that every change in culture was attributed to the arrival of new waves of immigrants from the continent (Dyer, 1990). This is a field, which needs more attention, and it is possible that place-name research might provide some of the answers.

43The study of place-names and surnames engages Ireland in its full diversity. Townland names have recently been referred to as «culturally metamorphic rocks in the landscape». W. J. Smyth suggests for example that on the basis of place-name analysis the Norse must have had a stronger impact on rural settlement than we believed hitherto. He considers that the seventeenth century is at the heart of understanding modern Ireland and that settlement historians should make more use of the Irish sources for that period (Smyth, 2000).

The landscape of Gaelic Ireland

44There is a growing consciousness that our discourse of the medieval settlement history of Ireland is strongly influenced by the availability of Latin sources for this period favouring settlement which was established under the Anglo-Normans in contrast to the scarcity of Gaelic language sources on settlement in those regions of Ireland which remained under Gaelic control. In 1996 Tadhg O’Keeffe tried to address this problem in his article on rural settlement and cultural identity in Gaelic Ireland in the medieval period. In 2001 a book was published with the title Gaelic Ireland, which explored how research into post-Norman Gaelic Ireland, and in particular issues of settlement, landscape, territoriality and social organisation, might be advanced (O’Keefe, 1996; Duffy et al., 2001).

45In September 1997 Rolf Loeber with the support of the Department of Medieval History in Trinity College Dublin called together a group of people with the aim of discussing how we could increase our knowledge of the landscape of Gaelic Ireland? On this occasion Katherine Simms pointed out that the student of Gaelic landscape history was faced with the problem, that there were few contemporary physical structures of institutional life, as business was carried out in the open. The literary nature of all written sources provided little information on settlements except for land grants and boundaries. Most secular records were kept by members of the bardic school, who got their elementary training in poetry. Nevertheless the Brehon law tracts, published in six volumes, give some information and so do the bardic poems and hagiographical texts.

The long neglected late-medieval period

46Curiously we know more about the early origins of towns than their later development. With the exception of some studies as for example A. O’Brien’s work on Dungarvan we know very little about economic life in medieval towns and the late-medieval crisis (O’Brien, 1987). This theme was discussed in a European context in 1996 at a conference in Birmingham, where H.B. Clarke reported on decolonisation and urban decline in late-medieval Ireland (Clarke, 2000).

New bodies of source-material

47The publication of whole archive-depositories as for example Guide to Sources for Irish History 1485-1641 in British Archives by B. Donovan and D. Edwards, published in 1997 by the Irish Manuscript Commission, open up new sources. Many of the Commission’s previously published texts to-date throw light on settlement history and should be explored under that aspect.

  • 12 The following volumes have been published so far: [Mid] Cork by D. Paves et al. (1997), Waterford b (...)

48A welcome new development is the publication of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs for Northern Ireland by the Institute of Irish Studies in Belfast and for the Republic of Ireland by Michael Herity as editor. The publication of an archaeological inventory for the country is an important primary source for settlement studies. For eleven counties the work has been published and for the others it is in preparation12.

49The National Monuments Branch has carried out a site and monuments record for the whole of the country. The availability of this record (SMR) on a searchable digital database is a great help in studies of prehistoric and early historic settlement. There is less material available for later settlements and it would be desirable to update the record. J. Bradley was commissioned to carry out the Urban Archaeological Record. It is an important resource for research on medieval towns in Ireland and it is regrettable that the material has not yet been made available in print.

50The Buildings of Ireland series provides detailed information on the architectural history of individual buildings in Irish towns. So far two volumes have been published, one on north-west Ulster (1979) by A. Rowen and the other on north-west Leinster (1993) by C. Casey and A. Rowen.

Comparative studies

51The old saying adapted from Kippling «What should they know of Ireland who only Ireland know» is still very true. No doubt Irish settlement historians could learn from comparisons with the evolution of settlement in other parts of the Atlantic world, in particular with Scotland and Wales, as P. Flatrès showed in the 1960s. L. Cullen initiated comparative work with France, which should be extended (Cullen & Furet, 1980). The comparison of medieval colonisation in Ireland with other colonisation movements in medieval Europe has been attempted (Simms, 1988; Bartlett, 1989). But there are many aspects of common European heritage that still need to be explored.

  • 13 The following volumes of the Irish County History Series have appeared so far: Tipperary (1985), We (...)

52The Irish County Histories, for which Willie Nolan acts as general editor, present interdisciplinary essays on the history of Irish counties. They are the Irish equivalent to the English Victoria County History13. These volumes contain most valuable contributions to the settlement history of particular regions through time. It is a challenge to use this material in order to construct major settlement zones over the whole of the country, which would have cultural meaning.

53The two volumes, already mentioned, on The Comparative History of Urban Origins in Non-Roman Europe (Oxford, 1985) edited by H.B. Clarke and A. Simms focus on the origin of towns in early medieval Europe and urban colonisation in high-medieval Europe. The volume with collected essays on Medieval Frontier Societies (Oxford, 1989) edited by R. Bartlett and A. Mackay) explores culture and politics in its regional dimension in Europe. The volume on Irland und Europa; Ireland and Europe, vol. 1, Stuttgart, 1984, edited by P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter links major cultural regions of Europe and contains valuable material on the settlement history of early medieval Ireland. The volume edited by L.M. Cullen and F. Furet on Ireland and France, 17th -20th centuries: towards a comparative study of rural history, Paris, 1980 focuses on historical aspects of landholding in these two regions of Europe. –Under the patronage of the British and Irish Academies two volumes were published which allow a comparative analysis of English and Irish settlement of comparable scale. The first one was edited by P. Clarke and R. Gillespie under the title: Two Capitals: London and Dublin, 1500-1840, Oxford, 2001. The second was edited by P. Borsay and L. Proudfoot and carried the title: Provincial Towns in Early Modern England and Ireland. Change, Convergence and Divergence, Oxford, 2002.

54Further comparative studies of Irish settlements with comparable settlements in other European regions would greatly enhance our understanding of Ireland in a European context.

Environmental history

55And finally we come to the issue, which might very well be the most important one. In the past the focus of research in the medieval and early-modern period was very much on landholding and spatial organisation of society. The major study so far on the environment of Ireland in a historic perspective is Frank Mitchell’s book on the Irish landscape, which we have mentioned already. He was interested in the human situation of early communities in an environmental setting.

56In archaeology environmental studies have become a strong sub-discipline. A good example is B. Raftery’s research on wetland sites. He excavated massive oak track-ways at Corlea in County Longford. G. Cooney worked on the environment of Neolithic settlements and M. Monk researches prehistoric vegetation change. Dendrochronology and pollen analysis have yielded information on environmental change in historical periods. It would be desirable in the future to co-ordinate these results with documentary evidence of environmental conditions.

57We should revisit our sources and explore how much they can tell us about the environmental transformation of the Irish landscape through time. F. Kelly’s book on Early Irish Farming (Dublin, 1993) demonstrates how the Irish law tracts of the seventh and eight centuries can yield information on domesticated animals, hunting, flowers, dye-plants, farmhouses, trees and woodland. T. Bolger has investigated the Calender of Archbishop Alen’s Register, c. 1172-1534, a record of land held by Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin under this aspect, and found interesting information on the management of forest land, the use of turbary and the fertility of the land (Bolger, 1998). The seventeenth century Down Survey maps give a lot of information on environmental conditions with their frequent references to «red bogs». Ingeborg Leister has given a lead in her Tipperary book with a map showing the distribution of forest and its degenerate forms based on the Civil Survey (Leister, 1963).

58Real understanding of the processes which brought about environmental change in Ireland can only come from the cooperation between the disciplines of archaeology, geography and history on the one hand and the palynologists and paleo-environmental researchers on the other hand. Combining these different elements was the strength in the work of the late Frank Mitchell. We must continue his tradition.

Conclusion

  • 14 Quoted after O’Keeffe T. (1996), «Rural settlement and cultural identity in Gaelic Ireland, 1000-15 (...)

59It appears that the question of the character of the Gaelic landscape and the nature of the transformation from the Gaelic to the Anglo-Norman landscape in Ireland still holds many unanswered questions. For example in the half century before the Norman arrival the term «castle» (castle or caislen) appears in Gaelic vocabulary, hinting that the Irish invented the stone-castle for themselves before the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 116914. It is not easy to determine how much the Normans built on their predecessors’ achievements and how much their institutions were a complete innovation for the country. The other major issue for future research must be environmental change, which would connect with the environmental problems of our own days. And last but not least there is the wide field of urban studies, where different aspects of the urban society should be studied in their topographical context.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Publications which are fully listed in the text are not repeated in the bibliography.

ANDREWS J. (2000), «Plantation Ireland: a review of Settlement History», in Barry T., A History of Settlement in Ireland, London and New York, pp. 140-157.

Bartlett R. (1989), «The high medieval colonial aristocracies of the medieval ages, in Bartlett R. and Mackay A. (eds.), Medieval Frontier Societies, Oxford, pp. 23-47.

Bolger T. (1998), The environmental history of County Dublin in the medieval period, M.Phil thesis, University College Dublin.

Bradley J. (1985), «Planned Anglo-Norman towns in Ireland», in Clarke H.B. and Simms A. (eds.), The Comparative History of Urban Origins in Non-Roman Europe, vol. II, Oxford, pp. 411-467.

Bradley J. (2002), «From frontier town to Renaissance city: Killkenny, 1500-1700», in Borsay P. and Proudfoot L. (eds.), Provincial Towns in Early Modern England and Ireland, Oxford, pp. 29-52.

Clarke H.B. (2000), «Decolonisation and the dynamics of urban decline in Ireland, 1300-1500», in SLATER T.R. (ed.), Towns in Decline, A.D. 1000-1600, Vermont, pp. 161-168.

Clarke H.B. Maire Ní Mhaonaigh and Raghnall ó Floinna, (1998), Ireland and Scandinavia in the Early Viking Age, Dublin.

Cooney G. (2000), «Reading a landscape manuscript: a review of progress in prehistoric settlement studies in Ireland», in Barry T. (ed.), A History of Settlement in Ireland, London and New York, pp. 1-49.

Cullen L. (1992), «The growth of Dublin 1600-1900: character and heritage», in Aalen F.H.A. and Whelan K. (eds.) (1992), Dublin. City and County, pp. 252-277.

Cullen L. and Furet F. (eds.) (1980), Ireland and France, 17th-20th centuries: towards a comparative study of rural history, Paris.

Duffy P. (1988) «The evolution of estate properties in South Ulster 1600-1900», in JONES HUGHES T. (eds.), Common Ground, a collection of essays on Irish Historical Geography, Cork University Press, pp. 84-109.

Duffy S. (ed.) (2001-2003), Medieval Dublin I, Medieval Dublin II, Medieval Dublin III, Medieval Dublin IV.

Duffy P.J., Edwards D. & Fitzpatrick E. (eds.) (2001), Gaelic Ireland. Land, Lordship and Settlement c. 1250-c. 1650, Dublin.

Dyer Ch. (1990), «The Past, the Present and the Future in Medieval Rural History», Rural History, 1, 1, pp. 37-49.

Empey C. A. (1982, 1983), «Medieval Knocktopher: a study in manorial settlement», Old Kilkenny Review, 2, pp. 329-342.

Geraghty S. (1993), Environment and economy in Viking age Dublin: botanical remains from Fishamble Street, Dublin.

Glasscock R. (1971), «The study of deserted medieval settlement in Ireland», in Beresford M.W and Hurst J.W. (eds.), Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies, London, 1971, pp. 279-301.

Graham B. (1979), «The evolution of urbanization in medieval Ireland», Journal of Historical Geography, 5, pp. 111-125.

Graham B. (2000a), «Anglo-Norman settlement in County Meath», Proceed­ings of the Royal Irish Academy, 75, Sect. C, 11, 1975, pp. 223-248.

GRAHAM B. (2000b) «Urbanisation in Ireland during the High Middle Ages c. 1100 - c. 1350», in Barry T. (ed.), A History of Settlement in Ireland, London and New York, pp. 124-139.

Graham B.J. and Proudfoot L.J. (1992), «Landlords, planning and urban growth in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Ireland», Journal of Urban History, XVIII, 3, pp. 308-329.

Harris C. (1991), «Power, Modernity, and Historical Geography», Annals of the Association of American Geographers, pp. 671-683.

Hennessy M. (1996a), The Anglo-Norman colony in County Tipperary, c. 1185-c. 1540, PhD Thesis (University College Dublin, 1998).

HENNESSY M. (1996b), «Manorial Organization in early thirteenth-century Tipperary», Irish Geography, 29 (2), pp.116-125.

Horner A. (1975), «Carton, Co. Kildare: A case-study of the making of an Irish demesne», Irish Georgian Society, 18, Dublin, 1975, pp. 45-104.

Horner A. (1978), «Two eighteenth-century maps of Carlow town», Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 78, C, 5, pp. 115-126.

Jones-Hughes T. (1965), «Society and settlement in nineteenth century Ireland», Irish Geography, 5, (2), pp. 79-96.

Leister J. (1963), Das Werden der Agrarlandschaft in der Grafschaft Tipperary (Irland), Marburg, (map showing the distribution of forests, p.66).

Nolan W. (1992), «Society and settlement in the valley of Glenasmole c. 1750-c.1900», in Aalen F.H.A and Whelan K. (eds.), Dublin, City and Country, Dublin, pp. 181-228.

Nolan W. and Simms A. (eds.) (1998), Irish Towns: Guide to Sources, in cooperation with Ní Neíll R. and Whelan Y., Dublin.

O'Brien A. (1987), «Development and evolution of the medieval port and borough of Dungarvan, County Waterford c. 1200-c. 1530», Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Journal, XCII, pp. 85-94.

O'Keeffe T. (1996), «Rural Settlement and Cultural Identity in Gaelic Ireland, 1000-1500», Ruralia I, Pamatky archeologicke-Supplementum 5, Praha, pp. 142-153.

Sheridan E. (2001), «The multi-centered metropolis: the social topography of eighteenth-century Dublin», in Clark P. and Gillespie R. (eds.), Two Capitals. London and Dublin 1500-1840, Oxford, pp. 265-296.

Simms A. (1983), «Rural settlement in Medieval Ireland: the example of the royal manors of Newcastle Lyons and Esker in South County Dublin», in Roberts B.K. and Glasscock R.E. (eds.), Villages, Fields and Frontiers, Oxford, pp. 133-152.

Simms A. (1988), «Core and Periphery in Medieval Europe: The Irish Experience in a Wider Context», in Smyth S.J. and Whelan K. (eds.), Common Ground, Cork, pp. 22-40.

Simms A. (1989), «The Geography of Irish Manors: the example of the Llanthony Cells of Duleek and Colp, County Meath», in Bradley J. (ed.), Settlement and Society in Medieval Ireland, Studies presented to F.X. Martin, O.S.A., Kilkenny, pp. 291-315.

Simms A. (2002), «Change and continuity in an Irish Country Town: Kells, 1600-1820», in Borsay P. and Proudfoot L. (eds.), Provincial Towns in Early Modern England and Ireland, Oxford, pp. 121-150.

Smyth W.J. (2000), «Ireland a colony: settlement implications of the revolution in military-administrative, urban and ecclesiastical structures, c. 1550 - c. 1730», in BARRY T. (ed.), A History of Settlement in Ireland, pp. 158-186.

Wallace P.F. (1992), The Viking age buildings of Dublin, 2 vols, Dublin.

Whelan K. (1983), «The Catholic parish», Irish Geography, pp. 1-15.

Whelan K. (2000), «Settlement and Society in eighteenth-century Ireland», in Barry T. (ed.), A History of Settlement in Ireland, London and New York, pp. 187-205.

REFERENCES CONCERNING THE FUTURE OF THE IRISH LANDSCAPE

AALEN F.H.A. (eds.) (1996), Landscape study and management, The Office of Public Works, Dublin.

AALEN F.H.A. (1997), «Management of the landscape», in AALEN, WHELAN & STOUT (eds.), Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, Cork.

BRADYN.(2003), Exploring Irish Medieval Landscapes, The Discovery Programme, Dublin.

BRENNEN E. (1990), Heritage. A visitor’s guide, The Office of Public Works, Dublin.

BUTTIMER, N., RYNNE, C. & GUERIN, H. (eds.) (2000), The heritage of Ireland. Natural, man-made and cultural heritage, Cork.

DEPARTMENT OF ARTS, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (1999), Framework and principles for the protection of the archaeological heritage, Dublin.

DEPARTMENT OF ARTS, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (2000), National Heritage Plan, Sixth Draft.

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT (2000), A Guide to protected buildings.

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT (2000), Draft planning guidelines on landscape and landscape assessment, June.

FEEHAN J., HOGAN D. & PHILLIPS A. (eds.) (1996), Seeking a partnership towards managing Ireland’s uplands, Dublin.

HARBISON P. (1970, 1975, 1992), Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland, Dublin.

KEALY L. and O’ROURKE M. (1996), «Historical Endowment: the use of inventories», in CONVERY F. and FEEHAN J. (eds.), Assessing sustainability in Ireland-A synthesis, Environmental Institute, University College Dublin.

MELDON J. (1992), Structural funds and the environment. Problems and prospects. An Taisce Publication, WWF Project 3831.01 Europe: Structural funds: Monitoring the environmental effects of the EC Structural Funds, October 1992.

O’CONNORK.(1998), The Archaeology of Medieval Rural Settlement in Ireland, Discovery Programme Monograph3, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.

SCANNELL Y. (1991), «The European Community Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment and its implementation in Ireland», in BRADLEY K., SKEHAN C. & WALSH G. (eds.), Environmental impact assessment: a technical approach, Dublin.

Haut de page

Annexe

The future of the Irish rural landscape

The increasing emphasis on heritage, which has both a cultural and economic potential, has informed recent planning legislation in regard to the future of the rural landscape in Ireland.

The first Inspector of National Monuments was appointed in 1875, when the country was still governed from London. In 1882 the Ancient Monuments Protection Act was passed, which provided the monuments with protection from damage by a third party but not from the owner. In 1898 the Local Government (Ireland) Act was passed, which gave Local Government (Counties) joint responsibility for a monument with the owner. After National Independence the National Monuments Act was passed in 1930, which is the basis for preservation orders by which the present monuments protection works. This law was amended by the 1954, 1987 and the 1994 National Monuments Amendment Act.

The government carried out archaeological surveys, county by county, which are collected as Sites and Monuments Records and those became the basis for lists of protected structures. By 2005 these records should be completed for the whole country. The task lies with Duchás, the government office for monument protection. The word Duchás comes from the Irish and has two meanings: homeland and heritage. After its foundation in 1981, Duchás was a relatively independent Heritage Service. In the early 1990s the Government decided to fracture this standalone body and distribute its functions partly to the Department of the Environment, which is ultimately responsible for planning in Ireland and partly to the Office of Public Works, which has traditionally been responsible for monuments preservation. This procedure, greatly regretted by archaeologists and others, allows the Minister of the Environment a more direct decision power in planning matters.

What does Duchás do? It is responsible for National Parks and protected natural areas. It looks after National Monuments comprising prehistoric graves and medieval monasteries and castles. It maintains inland-canals and attempts to use them for touristic purposes like fishing and boating.

In statistical terms: Duchás has responsibility for 80000 ha National Parks, 222 500 ha Birds Sanctuary, 700000 ha Natural Heritage Areas. It is responsible for 750 National Monuments, of which 140000 are in private ownership.

In a preamble to a statement concerning the duties of Duchás we read: «Our heritage is what makes us special. It is what makes us unique as a people. It forms the core of our sense of national identity and provides the context for our daily lives. For all of us who live in Ireland it enhances our everyday existence and for Irish people abroad, it allows them to express clearly what it means to be Irish. Our heritage is the heartbeat of Irish society».

As a belated reaction to the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe Duchás has established the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which identifies, records and evaluates the architectural heritage of Ireland in a systematic and uniform manner. According to the Local Government Act the local communities are obliged to produce records of buildings of local and national significance under the heading of «protected buildings».

According to legislation Local Governments have to produce plans, which clearly distinguish between different landscape categories, which merit different degrees of protection. Typically for Ireland the protection of the cultural landscape in Ireland is fragmented between different government agencies. In 2000 the Department of the Environment issued its own guidelines for the characterization of Irish landscapes. For this purpose they carried out a «landscape characterization project «with the aim to arrive at a «landscape policy» for the whole country. In this context they published a brochure on «Draft Planning Guidelines on Landscapes and Land­ scape Assessment».

The Heritage Council is another body concerned with the future of the Irish landscape. It is a Semi-State Body and is financed by the government. Its duty is: «the proposing of policies for the identification, protection, preservation of national heritages, including monuments, architectural heritage, flora, fauna, landscapes, wrecks, geology.» The Heritage Council carries out its own project for landscape characterization. The focus of their investigation is the relationship between the natural landscape and the cultural landscape and they hope to produce a map showing the historic landscape types of Ireland. The issue is what distinguishes one region from another and in which way does topography, geology, soil types and house-types combine to produce historic landscape types with their own identity?

There are also a number of pressure groups in Ireland who do not hesitate to go to court in order to prevent the loss of national heritage. The most important one is An Taisce, the National Trust, which was founded in 1949 and has c. 5000 members. The Irish Georgian Society with an important library focuses on the preservation of the important architectural heritage from the eighteenth century. Researchers in Geography and Environmental Departments have explored the issue of the future of the Irish rural landscape and published their findings.

The structural difficulties which stand in the way of a successful protection of the cultural landscape in Ireland can be summarized as follows:

Duchás is an office, which has been established by the government and reports to the Minister. It is therefore liable to be bent towards government interests if economic gains are at stake.

The primary responsibility for decisions lies with the local planning offices in the different counties where ignorance about historical landscape issues is wide spread.

The decisions of the local planning offices have to be ratified by councils whose members are elected and are therefore open to pressure from the general public.

There is a tendency to focus on single objects in the landscape rather than on the landscape as a whole.

The Environmental Protection Agency, established by the Government, carries out assessments, which focus on the natural landscape rather than on the cultural landscape.

Two ministries, the Heritage Council and Pressure Groups are concerned about the future of the Irish Cultural landscape. A holistic approach is urgently needed.

In Ireland we have no landscape protection policies as such. Instead we have the protection of specific monuments in the landscape. But there is hope that this will change as a government spokesperson agreed «Few things are more relevant to everybody’s lives than landscapes».

In 1997 Ireland signed the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, and recently the government signed the European Landscape Convention. The government announces publicly: «Heritage is the politics of the future», but if immediate economic interests of the State or of individuals are at stake principles are bent. The archaeologist John Bradley said recently in a newspaper interview when the destruction of much of the historical core of Kilkenny was discussed: «Heritage is about community and our individualist society has destroyed notions of community and with it heritage».

Haut de page

Notes

1 See also:
Buchanan R.H. (1984), «Historical Geography of Ireland pre 1700», Jubilee Volume, Irish Geography, pp. 129-148.
Simms A. (1988), «Genetische Siedlungsforschung in Irland mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Siedlungsgeographie», in Fehn K. et al. (eds.), Genetische Siedlungsforschung in Mitteleuropa und seinen Nachbarräumen, Bonn, pp. 319-343.
Buttimer A. (1995), «Gatekeeping Geography through National Independence: Stories from Havard and Dublin», Erdkunde, 49, 1, pp. 1-16.
Simms A. (2000), «Perspectives on Irish Settlement Studies», in Barry, T, A History of Settlement in Ireland, London and New York, pp. 228-247 (the contribution to this volume is to a large extent based on this article).

2 Evans and Jones-Hughes both came from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Aberystwyth, where they studied anthropogeography under H.J. Fleure.
An appreciation of T.Jones-Hughes’s work can be found in
Andrews J.H. (1988), «Jones Hughes’s Ireland: A Literary Quest», in Smyth W.J and Whelan K. (eds.), Common Ground, Cork, pp. 1-21.
An appreciation of E.E. Evans’ work can be found in G
lasscock R. (1991), «Evans E.E.: 1905-1989», Journal of Historical Geography, 17, 1, pp. 87-91.

3 Evans had a strong interest in the prehistoric period and in 1935 he published jointly with Gaffikin a paper on: «Megaliths and raths», which was apparently the first study of prehistoric settlement patterns in Ireland. He succeeded to supply this kind of research with institutional backing, when in 1961 with governmental support he founded the Ulster Folk-Museum in Belfast and in 1968 the Institute for Irish Studies at the Queen’s University in Belfast. He presented a synthesis of his own work in his books Irish Folk Ways (1957) and Irish Heritage (1973) and particularly so in his last book The Personality of Ireland (1974).

4 An appreciation of J. Andrews’s work is found in: Whelan K. (1992) «Beyond a paper landscape. Andrews J.H. (1992), and Irish historical geography», in Aalen F.H.A. and Whelan K. Dublin. City and County: From Prehistory To Present, Dublin, pp. 379-424.

5 Andrew’s unpublished critical papers, include the following: «The ethnic factor in Irish historical geography» (1974), «The geographical study of the Irish past» (1977), «Space, time and subject matter in Irish settlement studies» (1977) and «Villages in pre-plantation Ireland: the cartographic evidence» (1989).

6 The next generation of research-students continues this tradition, as the following list of publications on medieval settlement structures will show:
Cairns C. (1987), Irish Tower Houses: a County Tipperary Case Study, Athlone.
Jordan A. (1990-91), «Date, Chronology and Evolution of the County Wexford Tower House», Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, 13, pp. 30-82.
L
ong H. (1994), «Three settlements of Gaelic Wicklow: Rathgall, Ballinacor and Glendalough», in Hannigan, K. and Nolan W. (eds.), Wicklow, History and Society, Dublin, pp 237-65.
Mc
cAuliffe M. (1991), «The Use of Tower Houses and Fastnesses in the Desmond Rebellion 1565-1583», Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, 24, pp. 105-112.

7 Helmut Jaeger knew Clifford Darby (London and Cambridge) personally and was well aware of his work on reconstructing the geography of medieval England, based on the great Doomsday book, the popular name of the great survey of England completed in 1086. Jaeger’s own approach is well documented in the following article: JAEGER H. (1983), «Land use in Medieval Ireland», Irish Economic and Social History, x, pp. 51-65.

8 E. Sheridan's work on eighteenth century Dublin has provided the comparative framework for Dublin as a European capital: SHERIDAN E. (1993), «Dublin and Berlin. A comparative geography of two eighteenth century European capitals», PhD University College Dublin.

9 Irish Historic Towns Atlas, edited by Simms A., Clarke H. B., Gillespie R. with Andrews J.H. as consultant editor, published by The Royal Irish Academy. Publications include: Kildare (Andrews J. 1986); Carrickfergus (Robinson P. 1986), Bandon (O’Flanagan P. 1988), Kells (A. with Simms K. 1990), Mullingar (Andrews J. with Davies M. 1992), Athlone (Murtagh H. 1994), Maynooth (Horner A. 1995), Downpatrick (Buchanan R. with Wilson T. 1997), Bray (Davies M. 1998), Kilkenny (Bradley, 2000), Dublin, (Clarke, 2002), Belfast (Gillespie and Royle, 2003), Fethard (O’Keefe, 2003).

10 MAYNOOTH LOCAL HISTORY STUDIES (1996), publications with an impact on settlement studies:
BRODERICK D. (1996), The Dublin-Dunleer turnpike, 1731-1855, Dublin.
GACQUIN W. (1996), Roscommon before the famine, 1749-1845, Dublin.
KING B. T. (1997), Carlow: manor and town, 1674-1721, Dublin.
O’DALAIGH (1995), Ennis in the eighteenthcentury, Dublin.
SMITH C. (1996), Dalkey: society and economy in a small medieval Irish town, Dublin.
By now (2003) the series consists of 54 publications and can be accessed on the publisher’s web-site: http://www.four-courtspress. ie.

11 See also:
G
raham B. (1994), «No place of the mind: contested Protestant representations of Ulster», Ecumene, 1, 3: 257-81.
J
ohnson N. (1994), «Sculpting heroic histories: celebrating the centenary of the 1798 rebellion in Ireland», Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, NS 19, pp. 78-93.
W
helan Y. (2001), «Monuments, power and contested space: the iconography of Sackville Street (O’Connell Street) before Independence (1922)», Irish Geography, 34, 2, pp. 11-36.

12 The following volumes have been published so far: [Mid] Cork by D. Paves et al. (1997), Waterford by M. Moore (1999), County Cork, Parts 1-2, by D. Paves et al. (2000), Cavan by T. O’Donovan (1995), [West] Cork by D. Power (1992), Laois by P.D. Sweetman (1995), [East and South] Cork by D. Power et al. (1994), Carlow by A. Brindley and A. Kilfeather (1993), [West] Galway by T. Gosling (1993), Wexford by M. Moore (1996), Louth by M. Moore (1987), Monoghan by A.L. Brindley (1986), Offaly by E. FitzPatrick (1997), [North] Tipperary by J. Farrelly and C.O Brien (2002), [North] Galway by O. Alcock et al. (1999), Wicklow by E. Grognan and A. Kilfeather (1997).

13 The following volumes of the Irish County History Series have appeared so far: Tipperary (1985), Wexford (1987), Kilkenny (1990), Dublin (1992), Waterford (1992), Cork (1993), Wicklow (1994), Donegal (1995), Galway (1996), Down (1997), Offaly (1998), Amagh (2001).

14 Quoted after O’Keeffe T. (1996), «Rural settlement and cultural identity in Gaelic Ireland, 1000-1500, Ruralia, Prague.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Anngret Simms, « Historical landscape studies in Ireland », Belgeo, 2-3 | 2004, 301-320.

Référence électronique

Anngret Simms, « Historical landscape studies in Ireland », Belgeo [En ligne], 2-3 | 2004, mis en ligne le 14 septembre 2013, consulté le 23 mai 2017. URL : http://belgeo.revues.org/13698 ; DOI : 10.4000/belgeo.13698

Haut de page

Auteur

Anngret Simms

Emeritus-Professor, Department of Geography, University College Dublin, Ireland, Anngret.Simms@ucd.ie

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Belgeo est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Fondation Universitaire/Universitaire Stichting
  • Logo Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique - FNRS
  • Logo National Comittee of Geography
  • Logo SRBG
  • Revues.org