A conjectural reconstruction of the ceremonial centre of Rathcroghan, by artist J.G. O’Donoghue in collaboration with Joe Fenwick, as it may have looked during a significant ceremonial event in the Late Iron Age. Rathcroghan mound, the northern enclosure, the eastern-facing funnel-shaped avenues, and the encircling 360m enclosure are depicted from an elevated vantage point to the northeast. Photo reproduced by permission of J.G. O’Donoghue/Roscommon County Council/Rathcroghan Visitor Centre.
Jan 14 2019 Posted: 14:58 GMT

The Rathcroghan Resource Community has been successful in its bid under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri), through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for its project, ‘Farming Rathcroghan: Sustainable Farming in the Rathcroghan Archaeological Landscape’ and has been awarded a grant of almost €1 million (€984,000) to implement this project over the course of the next five years.

Joe Fenwick and Dr Kieran O’Conor from the Discipline of Archaeology at NUI Galway, as well as PhD candidate Daniel Curley, the Farming Rathcroghan Project Co-ordinator, are an integral part of the Rathcroghan Resource Community, which has been instrumental in making this successful project proposal under the EIP-Agri scheme. The Discipline of Archaeology has had a research interest in Rathcroghan, the ancient ‘royal’ capital of Connacht, and the general north Roscommon area over the past 40 years or more, and these endeavors continue to the present day as part of a more expansive interdisciplinary initiative, ‘The Connacht Project’.* The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project is a logical progression of the NUI Galway’s on-going involvement with the greater Rathcroghan community and most especially its farmers, who have been custodians of this remarkable landscape over the centuries. 

Speaking about the project, Joe Fenwick, Archaeological Field Officer from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project is an exciting new initiative with enormous potential for the future. Its objectives are to manage, care for and conserve this important archaeological landscape by implementing a programme of economically sustainable and ecologically sound farming practices, while also facilitating visitor access to the area.”

The project will formulate, test and develop a suite of innovative management solutions designed to sustain a viable and vibrant rural farming community in the context of a culturally and ecologically sensitive landscape. In so doing, the project aims to raise awareness among the general public of the significance of Rathcroghan as a farmed archaeological landscape and promote the proactive role of farmers and farming in the care and maintenance of the living landscape in harmony with its rich cultural heritage and ecological assets.

The project team hope that some of its tried and tested practices can be applied to other culturally sensitive landscapes throughout Ireland and the European Union and so the ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project might become a flagship project for others to follow in the future.

The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project has been developed using a locally led partnership approach. Its operational group, the Rathcroghan Resource Community, consists of a lead partner, Farming Rathcroghan CLG (comprising directors from Rathcroghan Farmers, Tulsk Action Group and Rathcroghan Visitor Centre) and various operational group members (comprising the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway; Roscommon County Council; Teagasc, Agriculture and Food Development Authority; World Heritage Unit, National Monuments Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht).

For more about the ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project and other EIP-Agri related projects visit the National Rural Network website at: https://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/innovation

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