• Cyril McAree

Irish Heritage Site Céide Fields Wins Prestigious Italian Landscape Award

The Office of Public Works (OPW) Heritage Site the Céide Fields has been awarded the prestigious Carlo Scarpa international landscape award for Gardens in an announcement made in Milan today. Every year the Italian Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche awards the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens – to attract attention to a site which is particularly rich in natural, historical and creative values. The award will be accompanied by an exhibition in Treviso, a book and a TV documentary which forms part of an awareness raising campaign, a fundamental element of the prize. The formal prize-giving ceremony will be held in Italy on 12th May.

The story of Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, is truly a fascinating one. In the 1930s Patrick Caulfield, a local school master in North Mayo noticed lines of stones in the ground when cutting turf and realised that they must pre-date the bog. However it wasn’t until 40 years later his son, Professor Seamus Caulfield an archaeologist began excavating the site with his students to look for evidence of the community that lived there 5,000 years ago. In 1990, the OPW worked with Seamus and the local community to build the award-winning visitor and exhibition centre. The building is designed around a four and a half thousand year old pine tree.

The exhibitions in the Centre are arranged around three main themes - the natural landscape, the human imprint on the landscape and the geology of the stunning North Mayo coast. The real experience of the Céide Fields however, is the walking tour with the Visitor Centre guides who bring the site to life by helping visitors to imagine walking in the steps of our ancestors from 5,000 years ago.

Speaking about the award and the Céide Fields Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief said, “The Céide Fields has both a fascinating recent and ancient history and is a great example of sustainable tourism. Consistently ninety percent of the 30,000 plus annual visitors to the Centre are independent travellers so although it has been designated a Discovery Point on the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way, it still remains somewhat of a hidden gem. This award will propel this wonderful heritage site, which is older than the pyramids, onto the world stage and bring it to a wider audience to enjoy and cherish for future generations”.




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