Chapter 12: Architectural, Archaeological and Cultural Heritage

Closed20 May, 2021, 9:00am - 30 Jul, 2021, 4:30pm



“Conserve, enhance, manage and protect the architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage as key social, economic and cultural assets which are an integral part of the county and safeguard these valuable resources through proper management, sensitive enhancement and appropriate development. Recognise the important role that the arts and cultural can play in making a place as attractive area to live, work and enjoy”.

12.1        Introduction

Cultural heritage surrounds us in the buildings of our towns and cities, our landscapes, monuments and archaeological sites. Cultural heritage brings communities together and builds shared understandings of the places we live. The Built and Cultural Heritage, in the form of both tangible and intangible assets form an important part of our heritage, as they provide communities and society with unique opportunities to learn about the past, support a sense of place, and form an intrinsic part of the character and attractiveness of the County.

Architectural heritage represents the built environment of past centuries as well as more recent times. It informs us about the lives of past generations and contributes to the form of town, village and rural landscapes. Architectural heritage has a key role in making successful ‘places for people’ providing recognisable landmarks which help to create pride of place. Placemaking enables communities to play an active role in the development of their towns, villages and local areas. It is inclusive and takes account of different points of view while also helping people assess issues in their area and design solutions. It offers opportunities identified by citizens and offers active cooperation including consideration of their heritage and culture.

Archaeology provides an insight into past societies and cultures through an assessment of the material remains left by them and the evidence of their environment. It investigates their houses, settlements and tombs and everyday implements. It seeks to understand the landscape, vegetation and climate of previous times as they affected, and were affected by, past peoples. It provides a valuable cultural, educational and tourism resource, as well as creating an important sense of place. Every townland and parish in the county of Galway contains monuments ranging from prehistoric burials, ringforts, holy wells, medieval parish churches with graveyards, castles, or monuments from the more recent past. There are over 12,000 recorded monuments alone in the county. Archaeology is also a key element of cultural heritage, which has been defined by UNESCO as ‘the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations’.

Cultural heritage is recognised as a key component of the attractiveness and distinctiveness of towns, villages and rural areas. Strategic investment in culture, heritage and the Arts recognises that high quality infrastructure is critical for a vibrant heritage and culture sector and that investment in our cultural heritage underpins social cohesion and supports economic growth.  Galway is renowned both nationally and internationally as a centre of cultural heritage and the Arts. This Plan aims to support and enhance appreciation of this cultural heritage to ensure that it can be enjoyed by both local residents and visitors to the County and safeguarded for future generations.

12.2        Strategic Aims

Galway County Council shall work with the appropriate agencies, state bodies, stakeholders and landowners to ensure that the architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage of the County is protected and developed in a sustainable manner that is in accordance with the following strategic aims:

  • The Council recognises the importance of identifying, valuing and safeguarding the archaeological and architectural heritage of Galway for future generations which can be achieved through the proper management, sensitive enhancement and/or appropriate development of this resource;
  • The Council will conserve, enhance and protect the special character of the architectural heritage of Galway through the identification of Protected Structures, the designation of Architectural Conservation Areas (ACAs), the safeguarding of designed landscapes and historic gardens, and the recognition of structures and elements that contribute positively to the vernacular, industrial and coastal heritage of the County;
  • The Council recognises that planning for the regeneration of a historic town or village needs an integrated approach that balances the protection of the built heritage and the sustainable development of historic urban areas with the needs of modern living and takes account of the concerns and aspirations of the community and key stakeholders;
  • Promote and enhance the value of placemaking in present and future town and village environments by conserving and protecting the architectural heritage of the County and integrating new development;
  • Protect, support and promote the conservation and appropriate management and enhancement of the County’s archaeological heritage within the plan area. Take cognisance of the “Framework and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage” (1999), and the Convention for the protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe (revised) (Valletta, 1992) which sets out policy and broad principles for the protection of the archaeological heritage;
  • The Council will promote best practice and seek to undertake the appropriate maintenance of the historic assets in the care of the local authority where resources permit;
  • Support the implementation of County Galway Heritage and Biodiversity Plan 2017-2022 (and subsequent plans) in relation to the promotion and protection of its Cultural Heritage;
  • Promote and support arts and cultural activities, facilities and services that meets the cultural and artistic needs of communities, supports creative activity and enhances the cultural, economic and social life of communities in County Galway;
  • Engage with all relevant stakeholders (and in particular local communities) in matters relating to the protection of the architectural, archaeological, and cultural heritage and The Arts;
  • Encourage understanding of the architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage of the County. Shall have regard to the advice series for owners issued by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.  

12.3        Strategic Context

This chapter is prepared in the context of the following National and Regional Plans, Policies and Guidelines:  

National Planning Framework – Ireland 2040  

National Development Plan 2018-2027  

Climate Action Plan 2019 

Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Northern and Western Region 2020-2032  

Built & Archaeological Heritage – Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan 2019

National Heritage Plan (2002) and the New National Heritage Plan 2030 (Draft 2019)

Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended)

The National Monuments Acts 1930 – 20014 

Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1999

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH)

Framework and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (1999); Policy and Guidance on Archaeological Excavation (1999)

Government Policy on Architecture 2009- 2015

‘Places for People - National Policy on Architecture’ (November 2019).

The Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines 2011

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH)

Framework and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (1999); Policy and Guidance on Archaeological Excavation (1999)

‘National Policy on Town Defences (DoELG 2008)’

Culture 2025: A National Cultural Policy Framework (2020)

Galway County Arts Plan 2020-2024

Galway County Heritage & Biodiversity Plan 2017 - 2022

Commemorative Strategy for the County of Galway 2013-2023

Galway County Council’s Culture and Creativity Strategy 2018 - 2022

Public Art Policy 2020 – 2014

Galway Library Development Programme 2016-2021

Galway County Local Economic and Community Plan 2016 – 2022

Everybody Matters: A Cultural Sustainability Strategy Framework for Galway 2016 – 2025 

UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Making Great Art Work. Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland. Arts Council Strategy (2016 - 2025).

12.3.1    The National Planning Framework

The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets out to protect and value our important and valuable built heritage. The NPF is built around 10 no. National Strategic Outcomes (NSO’s), with NSO7 of particular relevance which aims to enhance amenity and heritage of our cities, towns, villages and rural areas so as improve their attractiveness and quality of life. The National Strategic Outcomes of NSO 7 will require investment in well-designed public realm, which includes public spaces, parks and streets, as well as recreational infrastructure. This is linked to and must integrate with our built, cultural and natural heritage, which has intrinsic value in defining the character of urban and rural areas and adding to their attractiveness and sense of place.

The NPF sets out its vision for Ireland as a creative, innovative and culturally attuned society, whose people, businesses and communities are equipped to further our national economic output and creative endeavour. There are three other National Policy Objectives (NPOs) which relate to heritage as follows: NPO 17, NPO 23 and NPO 60. The aim of NPO 17 is to enhance, integrate and protect the special physical, social, economic and cultural value of built heritage assets through appropriate and sensitive use. One of the aims of NPO 23 is to maintain and protect the natural landscape and built heritage which are vital to rural tourism. NPO 60 aims to conserve and enhance the rich qualities of natural and cultural heritage of Ireland.

12.3.2    The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy

The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) supports a common approach in managing and protecting the built, natural and cultural heritage of the region. The Strategy makes a strong reference to the heritage value of the region’s towns and settlements. The RSES identifies the specific significance of Architectural Heritage, Archaeological Heritage, Cultural Heritage and Heritage Led Regeneration, as set out in the following relevant Regional Policy Objectives (RPOs): RPO 4.15 ,RPO 5.8, RPO 5.11, RPO 5.13, RPO 5.14, RPO 5.15, RPO 5.16, RPO 5.17, RPO 6.41, RPO 7.9.  Plans for investment in culture and heritage recognise that high quality infrastructure is critical for a vibrant heritage and culture sector and that investment in our cultural heritage underpins social cohesion and supports strong, sustainable economic growth. In terms of regional policy objectives, specific priorities are to enhance arts and culture centres throughout the country, develop the sustainable tourism potential of our culture and heritage infrastructure and improve Ireland’s outdoor recreation infrastructure and natural heritage.

12.4       Climate Change

Support and enhance appreciation of the built heritage, archaeological heritage and cultural heritage to ensure that it can be enjoyed by both local residents and visitors to the County and safeguarded for future generations.

The principles of conservation-led regeneration are adopted in this plan and the plan promotes awareness and the appropriate adaptation of Ireland’s built and archaeological heritage to deal with the effects of climate change. The guidance outlined in the Sectoral Adaptation Plan ‘Built and Archaeological Heritage’ has been incorporated into the Plan so as to help deal with the effects of climate change on our built and archaeological heritage. It is also important to create awareness of the increased threat climate change presents to the historic built environment and archaeological heritage including appropriate adaptation.

The plan responds to the current energy efficiencies of existing building stock so as to reduce GHG emissions and help achieve the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan, 2019. The existing building stock offers its greatest asset in its ability to be recycled for alternative use and thereby reducing the need for demolition and construction, and subsequently generation of carbon dioxide.

12.5        Architectural Heritage Context

The Architectural Heritage of Galway is a unique and special resource. Our architectural heritage consists not only of great artistic achievements of the past, but also the everyday works of craftsmanship of the past. Architectural heritage relates to monuments, groups of buildings and sites, and includes all relevant man-made structures and features of the landscape in the county; such as houses, bridges, towns, demesnes and stone walls of considered architectural heritage value.

It is important that provision is made to ensure adequate protection for the built environment in its existing form and that consideration is given to the sympathetic re-use of historic buildings to allow the architectural heritage to be enjoyed and used into the future. The proposed new National Policy on Architecture will set out the Government’s ambition for better understanding of the character, qualities, potential and benefits of our built environment. It states that Architecture and our built environment are central to our society.

Local authorities, through their city and county development plans and designation through the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) and Architectural Conservation Areas (ACAs), enable places of architectural value to be protected. Good heritage management should be incorporated into spatial planning to promote the benefits of heritage led urban regeneration in historic towns, for example through the protection of historic urban fabric, the reuse of historic buildings and the enhancement of places of special cultural or natural interest.

12.5.1    Protected Structures

A protected structure is a structure that the Planning Authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view. Under Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, the Council must maintain a Record of Protected Structures (RPS).

A Record of Protected Structures is the record included in a Development Plan, correct at the time of publication. It may be amended by the addition or deletion of entries independently of the Development Plan review process. The inclusion of a structure in the RPS does not preclude appropriate use or development. Protection is defined as including, in relation to a structure, or part of a structure, conservation, preservation and improvement compatible with maintaining the character and interest of the structure. Protection is offered to:

a) The interior of the structure;

b) The land lying within the curtilage of the structure;

c) Any other structures lying within that curtilage and their interiors, and all fixtures and features which form part of the interior or exterior of any structure.

No works, which would adversely affect the character of the structure, or any element of it, which contributes to its special interest, may be carried out to a protected structure without planning permission. An owner or occupier of a protected structure may make a written request to the Planning Authority to issue a Section 57 Declaration as to the type of works, which it considers would or would not materially affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure that contributes to its special interest.

The purpose of the designation of protected structure status is to ensure that any changes or alterations to the building and/or its setting are carried out in such a way that the existing special character is retained and enhanced. The identification of structures for inclusion in the Record is based on criteria set out in the Architectural Heritage Protection ­ Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2011). See Appendix 6 Record of Protected Structures.

12.5.2    National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) Survey of County Galway

The purpose of the NIAH is to identify, record, and evaluate a representative sample of the post­ 1700 architectural heritage of Ireland, as an aid in the protection and conservation of the architectural heritage of County Galway. The survey explores the social and historical context of the structures and facilitates a greater appreciation of the architectural heritage of County Galway. The NIAH provides the basis for the recommendations of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to the planning authority for the inclusion of particular structures in their Record of Protected Structures. It is important to recognise the contribution that all historic structures, features and landscapes including those which are not included in the Record of Protected Structures, makes to the county’s heritage. The Council will seek the enhancement of these elements in recognition of their quality, character and local distinctiveness.

12.5.3    Architectural Conservation Areas

An Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) is a place, area, group of structures or townscape, which is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest or contributes to the appreciation of a protected structure. An Architectural Conservation Area may or may not include protected structures. In an ACA, protection is placed on the external appearance of such areas or structures. Planning permission must be obtained before significant works can be carried out to the exterior of a structure within an ACA, which might alter the character of the structure, or of the ACA.

ACA’s can be entire streetscapes, designed landscape associated with a country house, medieval towns, industrial complexes, designed open spaces, religious complexes and so forth. The special character of an ACA is made up of its architectural features, setting, spatial qualities and land uses.

The commerce and trade of County Galway may be seen in the significant number of original shop fronts in its towns and villages. People have become increasingly aware of the value of high quality shopfronts both historic and contemporary in attracting customers to do business and come to an area. Shopfronts and signage are very important factors in enhancing and contributing positively to the character of an area.

Each commercial business will have specific requirements in terms of shopfronts, signage and advertisement. Careful thought should be given to the design, size and careful placement of such elements, so as not to detract from the character of the area and this will need particular attention within designated Architectural Conservation Areas where appropriate.

The designation of ACAs gives protection to the greater part of the built heritage that may not be suitable for inclusion in the RPS but contributes to or forms the particular character of an area.

Recognition is given to the value of high-quality infill buildings and shopfronts, both historic and contemporary, in attracting visitors and local people alike to a vibrant town and village centre.

12.5.4    Vernacular Architecture 

Vernacular architecture refers to the traditional building forms and types built using local materials, skills and building techniques which form a vital component of the landscape. Vernacular buildings, through their siting, orientation and materials, display an intimate connection with their landscape. This includes traditional domestic buildings such as thatched cottages but could also include other traditional structures such as shopfronts, farmsteads, outbuildings, aspects of the industrial past, including lime kilns, mills, forges, and their products, such as gates. These structures reflect the unique local history and character of a place. Viable new uses and careful rehabilitation can contribute to sustainable development and encourage social and economic regeneration.

12.5.5    Placemaking

Placemaking relates to the interrelationship and connection between people and the spaces they use. It includes how people move around places, the buildings and structures as well as the open space and landscape of an area and place. It therefore requires a people-centred approach to the planning, design and management of our settlements and the built environment. It promotes balancing the conservation of the historic fabric with the needs of those who live in and use the historic settlement.

Ensuring high quality design adds value to our towns, villages and countryside and improves placemaking and our quality of life. The Plan will promote high quality design by encouraging its integration into every aspect of the plan. Placemaking is an essential link between spatial planning and improving people’s quality of life through the creation of attractive places to live, work, visit and invest. 

12.5.6    Energy Efficiency and Traditionally Built Structures  

The careful rehabilitation and retention of historic buildings in our landscapes, whether urban or rural, allows the materials and embedded energy of these structures to be harnessed for present and future generations.

Proposals to improve the thermal performance of historic buildings and to insert renewable energy technologies need to be sensitive to traditional methods of construction to ensure that the proposed works are compatible with the traditionally accepted method of allowing for moisture to be absorbed and released easily.  Ventilating the internal spaces performs the important function of allowing the building to breath. Interventions such as impermeable building products may have unintended harmful consequences for historic traditional buildings.

The location of solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable technologies will be carefully considered in the historic environment. Climate change can bring increased risk from storms, floods and wind that the historic structures were not built to withstand.  Disaster Risk Management plans can assist in addressing issues and promoting preparedness.

12.5.7    Designed Landscapes

Historic designed landscapes are gardens, parks or estates that were deliberately laid out to create a particular effect. By using features, such as follies to form vistas, altering river courses to form lakes, building walled gardens to create sheltered areas, an architectural and horticultural composition is created. The designed landscapes of Galway consist primarily of demesnes associated with large country houses and are often the setting for a protected structure.

The Council will promote awareness of the value of designed landscapes and associated features and promoting standards in relation to repair and conservation is important. Development proposals in these designed landscapes shall be accompanied by appraisals and surveying of these sensitive sites including historic gardens, demesnes, estates and their settings so as to evaluate any possible impact on the heritage value.

12.5.8    Industrial, Agricultural and Coastal Heritage

The industrial heritage of mills and canals rail lines, the road network and associated bridges are historic assets that have had a significant influence on the form and character of the County and can be adapted to meet modern needs. Buildings associated with agricultural practise are easily identifiable within our settlements.  Piers and harbours on the coast and rivers are evidence of a busy maritime culture.

Policy Objectives Architectural Heritage

AH 1                       Architectural Heritage

Ensure the protection of the architectural heritage of County Galway which is a unique and special resource, having regard to the policy guidance contained in the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines 2011 (and any updated/superseding document).

AH 2                      Protected Structures (Refer to Appendix 6)

(a) Ensure the protection and sympathetic enhancement of structures including their curtilage and attendant grounds included and proposed for inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) that are of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest, together with the integrity of their character and setting.

(b) Review the Record of Protected Structures in order to provide a comprehensive schedule for the protection of structures of special importance in the County during the lifetime of the plan.

(c) Ensure that development proposals are appropriate in terms of architectural treatment, character, scale and form to the existing protected structure and not detrimental to the special character and integrity of the protected structure and its setting.

(d) Ensure high quality architectural design of all new developments relating to or which may impact on structures (and their settings) included in the Record of Protected Structures.

(e) Promote and ensure best conservation practice through the use of specialist conservation professionals and craft persons.

(f) Prohibit development proposals, either in whole or in part, for the demolition of protected structures, save in exceptional circumstances. 

AH 3                       Protection of Structure on the NIAH

Give regard to and consideration of all structures which are included in the NIAH for County Galway, which are not currently included in the Record of Protected Structures, in development management functions.

AH 4                       Architectural Conservation Areas (Refer to Appendix 7)

Protect, conserve and enhance the special character of the Architectural Conservation Areas (ACA) included in this plan through the appropriate management and control of the design, location and layout of new development, modifications, alterations or extensions to existing structures, surviving historic plots and street patterns and/or modifications to the character or setting of the Architectural Conservation Area. Works within the ACA shall ensure the conservation of traditional features and building elements that contribute to the character of the area. The special character of an area includes its traditional building stock and material finishes, spaces, streetscape, shop fronts, landscape and setting. New proposals shall have appropriate regard to scale, plot, form, mass, design, materials, colours and function.

This will be achieved by;

(a) Protecting all buildings, structures, groups of structures, sites, landscapes and all features which contribute to the special character of the ACA from demolition and non-­sympathetic alterations.

(b) Promote appropriate and sensitive reuse and rehabilitation of buildings and sites within the ACA.

(c) Ensure new development within or adjacent to an ACA respects the established character of the area and contributes positively in terms of design, scale, setting and material finishes to the ACA.

(d) Promote high quality architectural design within ACAs.

(e) Seek the repair and reuse of traditional shopfronts and where appropriate, encourage new shopfronts of a high quality architectural design.

(f) Ensure that all new signage, lighting, advertising and utilities to buildings within ACA are designed, constructed, and located in such a manner that they do not detract from the character of the ACA.

(g) Protect and enhance the quality of open spaces within ACAs and ensure the protection and where necessary reuse of street furniture and use of appropriate materials during the course of public infrastructure schemes within ACAs.

(h) Prohibit development proposals, either in whole or in part for the demolition of a structure within an Architectural Conservation Area that contributes to the special character of the area.

(i) Protect structures in ACAs from non-­sympathetic alterations and encourage appropriate in­fill developments.

(j) Works materially affecting the character of a protected structure or the exterior of a building/ structure within an ACA will require planning permission;

(k) Any works carried out to a protected structure or the exterior of a building/structure within an ACA shall be in accordance with best conservation practice and use sustainable and appropriate materials.

(l) Ensure that any development, modifications, alterations, or extensions materially affecting the character of a protected structure, or a structure adjoining a protected structure, or a structure within or adjacent to an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), is sited and designed appropriately and is not detrimental to the character or setting of the protected structure or of the ACA.

AH 5                       Maintenance and Re-use of existing Building Stock

Promote the maintenance and appropriate re-use of the existing stock of buildings with architectural merit as a more sustainable option to their demolition and redevelopment.

AH 6                       Vernacular Architecture

Recognise the importance of the contribution of vernacular architecture to the character of a place and ensure the protection, retention and appropriate revitalisation and reuse of the vernacular built heritage including structures that contribute to landscape and townscape character and resist the demolition of these structures.

AH 7                       Local Place Names

Protect local place names as an important part of the cultural heritage and unique character of an area. Support the use of appropriate names for new developments that reflect the character and heritage of the area and that contribute to the local distinctiveness of a place.

AH 8                       Energy Efficiency and Traditionally Built Structures

Ensure that measures to upgrade the energy efficiency of protected structures and traditionally built historic structures are sensitive to traditional construction methods, employ best practice and use appropriate materials and methods that will not have a detrimental impact on the material, functioning  or character of the building.

AH 9                       Local Landscape and Place Assessment

To support proposals from local communities including Tidy Town Committees, Chambers of Commerce and residents’ groups in analysing the character of their place and promoting its regeneration for their own use and enjoyment and that of visitors to the area.

AH 10                    Designed Landscapes

Protect the surviving historic designed landscapes in the County and promote the conservation of their essential character, both built and natural. Consider protection of the designed landscape by inclusion in an Architectural Conservation Area.

Development proposals in designed landscape shall be accompanied by an appraisal of the contributing elements and an impact assessment.

AH 11                    Custodianship

Promote an inter-disciplinary approach demonstrating best practice with regard to the custodianship of protected structures, recorded monuments and elements of built heritage. 

AH 12                    Placemaking for Towns and villages

Promote the value of placemaking in cooperation with communities in their towns, villages and local areas.

AH 13                    Traditional Building Skills

Support and promote traditional building skills, training and awareness of the use of appropriate materials and skills within the Local Authority, community groups, owners and occupiers of traditionally built structures.

AH 14                    Design and Landscaping in New Buildings

Encourage new buildings that foster an innovative approach to design and acknowledges the diversity of suitable design solutions in appropriate locations while promoting the added economic, amenity and environmental value of good design. 

12.6        Archaeological Heritage

The archaeological heritage of County Galway includes structures, constructions, groups of buildings, developed sites, places, caves, sites, feature or portable objects, all recorded monuments as well as their contexts, and moveable objects, situated both on land and underwater or in the inter tidal zones.

Archaeological remains provide valuable information about our past and the people who lived here before us. This rich and valuable archaeological heritage provides a valuable cultural, educational and tourism resource creating an important sense of place. Each site and monument have a unique character and contribution to make to the landscape of the County and adds meaning to our understanding of the environment. The appropriate management of archaeological remains is essential to ensure the survival of these invaluable features.

Over time some sites have disappeared, others survive beneath the current ground surface leaving no visible surface trace or have been remodelled within more modern buildings or stand as monuments in their own right.

The Minister of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has specific responsibilities for the identification and protection of our archaeological heritage through the National Monuments Service. The National Monuments Service carries out these duties in regard to sites and monuments and their policies are outlined in the ‘’Frameworks and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (1999)’’ and other policy documents.

12.6.1    Monument Protection

A Monument can be protected in one of five ways:

  1. It is in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP).
  2. It is registered in the Register of Historic Monuments (RHM).
  3. It is a National monument subject to a preservation order (or temporary preservation order).
  4. It is a National monument in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht or a Local Authority.
  5. Archaeological structures may, in some situations, be considered as architectural heritage and, therefore, may appear on both the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) and the Record of Protected Structures (RPS). These structures are accordingly protected by both the National Monuments Acts and the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended).

Prior written consent from the Minister of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is required for any works at or in relation to all known archaeological monuments and zones of archaeological potential. Archaeology and the historic landscape provides a unique sense of place that benefits the quality of life and economy of the county. The Council will safeguard archaeological sites, monuments, objects and their settings listed in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP), and any additional newly discovered archaeological remains, and by identifying archaeologically sensitive historic landscapes ensure this rich heritage is maintained into the future.

12.6.2    Record of Monuments and Places

All known archaeological monuments are included in the statutory Record of Monuments and Places. The Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) was established under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994 and structures, features, objects or sites listed in the RMP are known as Recorded Monuments. Any persons proposing to carry out works at or in relation to a recorded monument must give two months written notice to the Minister. RMP maps and manuals are available for consultation (see or in the County library or the Planning office of Galway County Council.

12.6.3    National Monuments

Under Section 14 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 a National Monument is a monument in the ownership or guardianship of the State and or a Local Authority or monuments that are the subject of a Preservation Order or a Temporary Preservation Order. Prior written consent from the Minister of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is required for any works at or in relation to all known archaeological monuments and zones of archaeological potential. Lists of national monuments in the Minister’s ownership or guardianship (by county) and the listing for Preservation Orders can be accessed  at (

12.6.4    Underwater Archaeology

County Galway’s coastal waters, tidal estuaries and rivers contain many features and finds associated with its maritime/riverine heritage such as shipwrecks, piers, quay walls, fords, stepping stones and associated archaeological objects and features such as submerged landscapes, harbours, jetties, landing places, fish traps, kelp grids, bridge sites, crannogs and tidal mills. Section 3 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987 makes specific provisions for the protection of shipwrecks and underwater archaeological objects. Further information can be accessed at (

12.6.5    Historic Towns/ Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN)

Galway has a number of important settlements identified in The Urban Archaeological Survey of County Galway which include the towns of Athenry, Loughrea, Portumna and Tuam and the historic settlements of Ardrahan, Báile Chláir, Dunmore, Eyrecourt, Kilcolgan and Meelick. In the case of each of the towns and settlements listed above a Zone of Archaeological Potential is mapped showing the area most likely to contain archaeological remains, both upstanding and sub­surface.

The towns of Athenry and Loughrea are fortified towns and are members of the Irish Walled Town Network (IWTN). The Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN), seeks to ensure that Ireland’s unique cultural and archaeological heritage in relation to its walled and fortified towns and cities is protected and managed in a sustainable manner. The ‘National Policy on Town Defences (DoELG 2008)’ demonstrates commitment towards the protection, preservation and conservation of historic urban defences in Ireland.

12.6.6    Zones of Archaeological Potential

The physical remains of the archaeological monument today are not necessarily the full extent of the original monument which can remain buried in the ground with no visible surface evidence. This is the Zone of Archaeological Potential (ZAP). This can vary with monument type such as Early Ecclesiastical Sites, ringforts, medieval castles & churches complexes. The SMR database ( identifies Zones of Notification to assist authorities and other agencies.

12.6.7    Medieval Archaeology

Many of Irelands medieval structures, both rural and urban, were swept away in the 18th/19th century and replaced with buildings that make up the core of our heritage building stock today. Further potential for archaeology lies within these old buildings, as some were remodelled retaining elements of older buildings. Prior to development of these buildings an assessment should be carried to assess the heritage value of the structure.

12.6.8    Industrial and Post medieval Archaeology

Other important elements of our archaeological heritage are the later remains of structures and features associated with industrial, agricultural, cultural, military, docks and harbours, religious, social activities. These Industrial and post medieval items of built heritage include penal chapels, limekilns, houses, mass paths, stepping stones, mills, bridges, railway features and famine burial grounds. They can make a valuable contribution to the local historic landscape and have potential to add to our understanding of the past. Whilst some of these are Archaeological Monuments and/or Protected Structures, the vast majority have no such protection and are consequently very vulnerable items of our heritage.

12.6.9    Battlefield and Siege Sites

Battlefields have a significant place in our history and development of the nation. They contribute to the local historic environment and are ripe for interpretation and development as an economic resource. The Zone of Archaeological Potential of battlefield and siege sites can be quite extensive and can include associated features such as camp sites, entrenchments fortifications, siege works, and mass burials. There are significant battle sites in County Galway such as the site of the Battle of Aughrim and the Battle of Knockdoe. Therefore, in assessing any development proposals consideration should be given to the conservation and protection of the significant battlefield sites in County Galway.

12.6.10  Burial Grounds

Burial grounds are an important part of local heritage and often contain the standing remains or sites of earlier structures and also contain a great diversity of natural heritage and biodiversity. Burial grounds, which are included in Records of Monuments and Places, are afforded protection under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994. Consultation with the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is necessary prior to undertaking any proposed works in relation to historic graveyards. Galway County Council has an important role in protecting all historical burial grounds in County Galway and to encourage their maintenance and care in accordance with appropriate conservation principles.

12.6.11  Archaeology and Development

The Council requires that a proposed development (due to location, size or nature) which may have archaeological implications for archaeological heritage be subject to an Archaeological Assessment. This includes areas close to archaeological monuments, extensive in area (half hectare or more) or length (1km or more) and development that require an Environmental Impact Statement.

Where archaeological materials are found appropriate mitigation measures shall be put in place. Preservation in situ should generally be the presumed to be the preferred option and only compelling reasons can justify preservation by record.

Development that does not compromise sub surface archaeological remains will be encouraged. This is most effectively achieved by the refurbishment of existing buildings, in situations where it is possible to retain the greater part of the existing structures without the need for new foundations.

Various types of development can have visual or physical impacts on the setting of an archaeological monument. Proposals that preserve those elements of the setting that make a positive contribution to or better reveal the significance of the heritage asset will be favourably treated.

Previously unidentified archaeological sites may be uncovered during construction works including drainage schemes or road making. Archaeological deposits, which may be damaged by the development, must be investigated and recorded. It important that any development or planning application that has the potential to impact on an archaeological site, monument or structure shall be referred to the relevant Prescribed Bodies.

12.6.12  Raising Archaeological Awareness

Galway County Council has an important role to play in promoting initiatives aimed at raising awareness of archaeological heritage. Given the vast range of archaeological heritage within the County there is considerable potential for interpretation and recreation and contribution to the local economy through tourism.

Policy Objectives Archaeological Heritage

ARC 1                    Legislative Context

Support and promote the preservation, conservation and appropriate management and enhancement of the County’s archaeological sites and monuments, together with the settings of these monuments, having regard to the legislative, statutory and policy provisions relevant to the conservation of the archaeological heritage.

ARC 2                    Archaeological Sites

Seek to encourage and promote awareness of and access to archaeological heritage of the County for all, through the provision of information to landowners and the community generally, in co-operation with statutory and other partners.

ARC 3                    Archaeological Landscapes

To facilitate where possible the identification of important archaeological landscapes in the County.

ARC 4                    Protection of Archaeological Sites

Protect archaeological sites and monuments their settings and visual amenity and archaeological objects and underwater archaeological sites that are listed in the Record of Monuments and Places, in the ownership/guardianship of the State, or that are subject of Preservation Orders or have been registered in the Register of Historic Monuments, or that are newly discovered and seek to protect important archaeological landscapes.

ARC 5                    Development Management

All planning applications for new development, redevelopment, any ground works, refurbishment, and restoration, etc. within areas of archaeological potential or within close proximity to Recorded Monuments or within the historic towns of County Galway will take account of the archaeological heritage of the area and the need for archaeological mitigation.

ARC 6                    Burial Grounds

Protect the burial grounds, identified in the Record of Monuments and Places, in co-operation with the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Encourage the local community to manage burial grounds in accordance with best conservation and heritage principles.

ARC 7                    Battlefield Sites

Protect the Battle of Aughrim site and other battlefield sites and their settings.

ARC 8                    Underwater Archaeological Sites

To protect and preserve the archaeological value of underwater archaeological sites and associated features. In assessing proposals for development, the Council will take account of the potential underwater archaeology of rivers, lakes, intertidal and sub­tidal locations.

ARC 9                    Recorded Monuments

Ensure that any development in the immediate vicinity of a Recorded Monument is sensitively designed and sited and does not detract from the monument or its visual amenity.

ARC 10                  Zones of Archaeological Potential

To protect the Zones of Archaeological Potential located within both urban and rural areas and around archaeological monuments generally as identified in the Record of Monuments and Places. Any development within the ZAPs will need to take cognisance of the potential for subsurface archaeology and if archaeology is demonstrated to be present appropriate mitigation (such as preservation in situ/buffer zones) will be required.

ARC 11                  Industrial and Post Medieval Archaeology

Protect and preserve the archaeological value of industrial and post medieval archaeology such as mills, limekilns, bridges, piers, harbours, penal chapels and dwellings. Proposals for refurbishment, works to or redevelopment/conversion of these sites should be subject to careful assessment.

ARC 12                  Archaeology and Infrastructure Schemes

Have regard to archaeological concerns when considering proposed service schemes (including electricity, sewerage, telecommunications, water supply) and proposed roadwork’s (both realignments and new roads) located in close proximity to Recorded Monuments and Places and their known archaeological monuments.

12.7        Cultural Heritage

County Galway has a rich and diverse cultural heritage which is a significant social and economic asset to the County.  Culture plays a very important role in defining the perception of the county and providing its citizens with a sense of identity and continuity. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture such as buildings, monuments, books, works of art and artefacts and intangible cultural heritage such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge.

Arts and cultural facilities not only contribute to the artistic, social and general quality of life of communities, they are also significant contributors to the economy of the County by attracting visitors, investment and job creation. Many people visit the towns, monuments, archaeological and historical sites each year to enjoy this cultural experience. Culture is inherently multi-disciplinary, for example linking policies on economic growth and regeneration with those on environment, heritage and infrastructure provision. This Plan aims to encourage the further development of these cultural assets, increase local awareness of our heritage and cultural identity and promote the cultural tourism industry.

Galway County Council recognises the importance of our folklore and oral cultural heritage to the people of County Galway and to future generations. The Council will aim to work with groups in gathering, recording, preserving and promoting folklore and oral cultural heritage in the County. The County and Branch libraries strategically placed across the County provide a strong role in communities catering for all age groups with an active involvement in a yearly calendar of events. These branches provide a wide range of services that are a valuable resource in terms of culture, heritage and education. Galway County Council Archives service maintain the archives of the Galway County Council local authorities and make available archives that are invaluable cultural and heritage assets. 

Investment in culture and heritage can play a very important role in improving amenities and the attractiveness and liveability of different areas, urban areas including small towns and rural areas. Plans for investment in culture and heritage recognise that high quality infrastructure is critical for a vibrant heritage and culture sector and that investment in our cultural heritage underpins social cohesion and supports strong, sustainable economic growth. 

Regional priorities aim to enhance arts and culture centres throughout the country, develop the sustainable tourism potential of our culture and heritage infrastructure and improve Ireland’s outdoor recreation infrastructure and natural heritage. The Council acknowledges the importance of arts and cultural infrastructure to the county and that the renovation of Community Centres will bring valuable contributions for the people of Galway. The Council also acknowledges the contribution of Theatre and Arts Centre and Arts and will support same, where appropriate. The Council acknowledges the significance of utilising the Percent for Art Scheme as a means to create unique and meaningful artistic interventions within towns and communities.

12.7.1    Historical Sites and Initiatives

There are a number of places in the county which are of great public interest as places of historic interest, notably amongst these places, are sites associated with battlegrounds such as the Battle of Aughrim site. Places of social and folklore significance, like the original fairground in which the Fair of Ballinasloe was held, are also of public interest and it is the intention of Galway County Council to acknowledge the importance of these sites and to endeavour to protect and preserve them as places of historical interest.

The events of the decade between 1913 and 1923 were momentous and defining ones.  It was the Decade of Centenaries 2013-2023 that influenced relationships for a generation and was a period which saw the achievement of Irish independence and the foundation of our State. The decade was very important in modern Irish history and justifies a comprehensive commemorative programme that recognises its significance, acknowledges the achievements of its generation and enhances the understanding today of the events that shaped our society.

12.7.2    Placenames

The basic purpose of a placename is to prove identity and to assist communications. Irish placenames are an integral, part of the cultural heritage of Ireland. They are a valuable source of knowledge of the past, giving meaning to the landscape and defining the relationship between communities and their physical environment. Much of the folklore, genealogy, religion, daily life and work of those living on and interacting with their landscape can be appreciated through the study of placenames.

12.7.3    The Gaeltacht and Linguistic Heritage

Galway County Council recognises the importance of our linguistic heritage to the people of the County and to the cultural heritage of County Galway. Parts of Galway County lie within the Gaeltacht, mainly in the area from Bearna to Carna and including Oileáin Árann. These areas require special treatment to protect their linguistic and cultural heritage without hindering development and with an appropriate response to opportunities and challenges. The challenge is to promote these areas as a focus for development whilst ensuring that the development, which does occur, supports or complements the linguistic and cultural heritage. Galway County Council will work in partnership with groups who work for the promotion of the Irish language.

12.7.4    Intangible Cultural Heritage

In December 2015 Ireland ratified the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Intangible cultural heritage refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

12.7.5    County and Branch Libraries & Archives

Galway public library service was established in 1924 and is funded by Galway City and County Councils.  Galway has 29 libraries including branches on four islands and a Mobile Library serving rural communities and some house bound readers that do not have access to a library. Island House, Cathedral Square, Galway is the Headquarters of Galway Public Library Service.

Galway Public libraries provide a popular service for everyone, allowing unbiased and unparalleled access to the world’s knowledge. The priority of Galway Libraries is to make the local library the Community/Cultural Hub of each town and village in the county. The Public libraries provide public talks on many topics, exhibitions and also provide the nationwide Healthy Ireland at Your Library programme which acknowledges libraries as a valuable source of community health information.

The goal of the Galway County Council Archives service is to maintain the archives of the Galway County Council local authorities and to collect and make available archives that are of local importance. Therefore, Galway County Council shall make arrangements for the proper care, conservation and management of its archives. Galway County Council Archives Service’s mandate is therefore to acquire, preserve, manage and make accessible the local authority’s archives.  It will also, when resources allow, collect, preserve, manage and make accessible the documentary heritage of the county and its people as these important collection and records are an invaluable cultural and heritage asset. 

Policy Objectives Cultural Heritage

CUH 1                    Cultural heritage

Protect and promote the cultural heritage assets and the intangible cultural heritage assets of County Galway as important social and economic assets.

CUH 2                    Special Places of Historic Interest

To protect and promote where possible special places of historical interest.

CUH 3                    Placenames/Naming of New Developments

Promote and preserve local place names, local heritage and the Irish language by ensuring the use of local place names or geographical or cultural names which reflect the history and landscape of their settings in the naming of new residential and other developments. All names will be in the Irish language only. The naming and numbering schemes including associated signage must be submitted to the Planning Authority prior to the commencement of a new development.

CUH 4                    The Gaeltacht and Linguistic Heritage

(a) To protect the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht and to promote Irish as a community language. To promote and facilitate the sustainable development of An Ghaeltacht and Island communities in County Galway.

(b) To support organisations involved in the continued promotion and preservation of the Irish language and culture. To work in a positive and encouraging way to create and maintain a bilingual environment in the County, and to ensure the availability of opportunities for the use of spoken and written Irish.

CUH 5                    Library and Archives

(a) To facilitate the development and implementation of Galway Library Development Programme 2016-2021 or subsequent programme and support the development and promotion of the library network in the county.

(b) Galway County Council shall support the provision of a purpose built repository, meeting international archival standards, to house, and ensure the preservation, of this important heritage resource.

12.8        Creativity and The Arts

The Arts Council is the national agency for funding, developing and promoting the arts in Ireland. Making Great Art Work, Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland, Arts Council Strategy (2016 - 2025) establishes the coordinates by which the Arts Council will lead the development of the arts in Ireland. They work in partnership with artists, arts organisations, local authorities, public policy makers and others to include arts in Irish Life.

Culture 2025 – A Framework Policy to 2025 sets the direction for Government’s policy and aspirations across the cultural sector, including the arts, the Irish language and the creative, heritage and audio visual sectors and how these aspirations can be achieved. It sets out a framework committing to increasing resources for arts and heritage, supporting Irish culture on the world stage and improving funding structures for investment in national and local services.

Culture 2025 is the main implementation vehicle for the Creative Ireland Programme which is an all-of-government initiative with a wellbeing strategy at its core which aims to improve social cohesion and access to cultural and creative activity in every county across the country.  It provides for high quality, well managed built and natural environments that contribute to public confidence and quality of life. It places creativity at the centre of public policy, aiming to improve access to cultural and creative activity in every county across the country.  The Creative Ireland Programme from 2017 to 2022 provides a clear mechanism for the delivering on this vision by ensuring creativity is at the heart of public policy and by the implementation of actions under the five pillars:

• Pillar 1: Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child

• Pillar 2: Enabling Creativity in Every Community

• Pillar 3: Investing in our Creative and Cultural Infrastructure

• Pillar 4: The Creative Industries: Ireland as a Centre of Excellence in Media Production

• Pillar 5: Unifying our Global Reputation.

Participation and access are central to the vision. Local authorities have a crucial role in the overall local delivery of the entire Creative Ireland programme.

The county of Galway has long been associated with the arts and culture, with an exceptional quality of life and natural landscape offering artists and creatives the type of environment to thrive. Supporting creative communities is vital and there is a responsibility to ensure that the landscape is protected, the built and natural heritage is further developed in a sustainable manner and that the elements that are conducive to creativity are safeguarded.

Galway County Council has adopted and published a Culture and Creative Strategy 2018 to 2022, which shares the vision of the Creative Ireland programme that every person living in Ireland will have the opportunity to fully realise his or her creative potential. The Strategy also brings coherence and promotes collaboration between the individual culture based strategies; the Heritage & Biodiversity Plan, the Arts Plan and the Libraries Plan, all of which relate to the Local Economic and Community Development Plan, 2016-2021.

The County Strategy provides a framework that assists in the cultural advancement of the county of Galway. Creative Ireland facilitates an enhanced level of coordination, focus and leadership to existing policies and initiatives across national and local government, State agencies, the arts and cultural sector, Gaeltacht and Irish language organisations and provides a link to private business and the creative industries sector.

It supports and enhances the wide range of cultural programmes already in place through the arts office, library and archive service, conservation, heritage, economic development and Irish language provisions in the Council. The collaborative approach of the Culture Team demonstrates how significant leverage of existing projects magnifies the scale and reach of Galway County Creative Ireland initiatives in terms of budget, numbers of participants and positive impact on the quality of life of people living in County Galway.

Creativity is valued as a distinct asset in Galway, with a host of artists, makers, chefs and coders contributing to the county’s reputation as a great place to live and work. From international designations, such as European Region of Gastronomy 2018, European Capital of Culture 2020 and the growing creative industries; Galway County Council is committed to supporting the wealth of talent already here and to discovering and inspiring the creators of tomorrow. Participation in all forms of creative and cultural activity contributes to the health and wellbeing of the citizens of the county. Through the implementation of community based arts, culture, language, wellbeing and heritage programmes Galway County Council aspires to ensuring every citizen regardless of age, gender or ethnicity is aware of, take part in and experience the value and importance of creativity in their lives.

Galway County Arts Plan 2020 -2024 address how to support the growth and continuing development of the arts, not only encompassing Galway County’s needs and ambitions but also placing them within the overall context of local, regional and national strategy for the Arts. This plan recognises the social, economic and cultural contribution the Arts can play in the cohesion of communities, the growth of local and regional economies, its benefit to tourism, and the role the arts can play in making a place an attractive area to live, work and enjoy. The County Development Plan will support the implementation of the Galway County Arts Plan 2020 – 2024.

The Galway County Council Public Art Policy 2020 – 2024 priorities include the development of new commissions and pubic art programmes which will support professional artists and public engagement along with the stewardship and conservation of County Galway’s public art collection which is part of the overall arts and culture agenda. This plan recognising the importance of Public Art as cultural landmarks in urban redevelopment, roadways, housing and recreational and amenity developments. 

It is acknowledged that the arts can make a significant and positive contribution to the development of the social, economic and cultural life of communities and the plan intends to support this role by recognising the arts as part of the fundamental vision and essence of placemaking in Galway County. The plan also acknowledging the employment opportunities of the creative industries by supporting the more traditional art forms while seeking to encourage opportunities for the newer digital creative economy such as film making. The more recent emergence of a stronger cultural tourism sector can be supported by enhanced arts infrastructure, where appropriate. 

The current arts, heritage and cultural infrastructure in the county of Galway includes a range of theatres, local museums and heritage centres, music venues, performance, arts and exhibition spaces, galleries and workshops many are in private or community ownership. This arts, heritage and cultural infrastructure is a very valuable community, social and economic resource for the county of Galway. Arts and cultural infrastructure provision needs to be based on the needs of a region or town, its population size and the planned future population targets. It is the intention of this plan to support and facilitate the provision and development of arts, heritage and cultural infrastructure at appropriate locations throughout the County. This plan also encourages the reuse of centrally located vacant buildings for social, cultural and artistic uses. New developments shall also be encouraged to make adequate provision for arts infrastructure for the social and cultural needs of an area.

Policy Objectives Creativity and The Arts

CA 1                       Development of Arts and Cultural Infrastructure

Provide for the balanced development of an arts and cultural infrastructure that meets the cultural and artistic needs of communities, supports creative activity and enhances cultural, economic and social life of communities and which are accessible to all members of the community.

CA 2                       Development of facilities

Support and facilitate the provision or development of arts spaces, cultural spaces and entertainment facilities including performance, exhibition, studio and other arts related facilities in appropriate locations, where proposals are in accordance with the other policy objectives of this plan.

CA 3                       Public Realm Works of Art

Encourage the commissioning of new works of art for the public realm in association with new development proposals and regeneration proposals, where appropriate.

CA 4                       Implementation of plans and programmes

Support the implementation of the Council’s Arts Strategy 2020-2024, the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022, the Culture and Creative Strategy 2018-2021 and other subsequent and appropriate plans and programmes that may be developed during the lifetime of this plan.


Map 12.1: Architectural Conservation Area

Map of Architectural Conservation Area 



We wish that the recommendations contained in the 2021 Community Area Based Plan for Lackagh and Turloughmore and the Redevelopment plan for Lackagh Museum be given consideration in any local...
Please see attached submission ref. Ch 12
Chapter 12: Architectural, Archaeological and Cultural Heritage In section 12.8, Creativity and The Arts, suggests that “the county of Galway has long been associated with the arts and...
12: Architectural, Archaeological and Cultural Heritage In section 12.8, Creativity and The Arts, suggests that “the county of Galway has long been associated with the arts and...
The Kelly Clan organization would like to use the Battle of Aughrim visitor centre